It seems that every year we hear a lot about how the Pittsburgh Steelers want to come out and run out of the no huddle on offense, and generally they’ve fallen well short of the mark in terms of expected usage. But they did see more work out of the no huddle in 2018 than they had in years prior with Randy Fichtner in the driver’s seat in his first year as offensive coordinator.
Fichtner replaced Todd Haley after six years as offensive coordinator, head coach Mike Tomlin electing not to renew his contract, promoting the former from quarterbacks coach, a job that he still retains. But Fichtner is Ben Roethlisberger close companion, and they have worked together closely to build the offense.
He has also made it very clear in the past that he fully trusts Roethlisberger to run the ship when appropriate, which probably has something to do with the increased usage. There have been games where they came out using it as part of their gameplan. They have used it for entire drives.
They wanted to get that look last night in the third preseason game against the Tennessee Titans, with most of the first three drives—the drives in which Roethlisberger played over 19 snaps—consisting of usage of the no huddle.
With others like Maurkice Pouncey getting into the game for the first time as well, it was still newer to the offense for the 2019 season, and there were and are some kinks to work out of the system, but the offense came off the field feeling as though they were in control.
“Ben coordinated a good job calling some runs to mix it in there”, right guard David DeCastro said after the game about the no-huddle approach and balancing the pass and the run. “Obviously it was a little wet out there, so it was tough, and we were forced to run it a little bit more, but it was pretty balanced, in my opinion. The no-huddle worked. We were tired, but so were they, so it was good”.
As he alluded to, fatigue was a bit of an issue. On the Steelers’ third possession, after catching two passes in a row, wide receiver JuJu Smith-Schuster tapped out for a couple of running plays before returning to catch a 17-yard touchdown.
Will the Steelers use the no-huddle even more in 2019, even without Antonio Brown? Roethlisberger seems to feel comfortable with the abilities of Donte Moncrief and James Washington to execute out of the no huddle, so it would not be a surprise if we do see that even more this year.