The bye week is an important time of the year for every team, and not just because it gives the players an opportunity to let their bodies heal before they continue on through the rest of the journey that the regular season presents. That is a big component of it, but this time is also a major opportunity for self-reflection that teams otherwise couldn’t get in the middle of a campaign.
That comes down to both the players and the coaches, but it’s really on the coaches more than anything to undertake the self-scouting process, figure out what they do well and what they don’t and how to adjust, and what it takes to make those adjustments, whether it’s personnel changes, technique adjustments, or schematic details that need to be rearranged.
As their AFC North rivals prepare for their Week Seven games, the Pittsburgh Steelers and offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner have used this time to take a long, hard look at what they have been able to do—and what they haven’t been able to do—so far this year.
“We’ve been working on our prior game study”, he told the team’s website earlier this week. “We’ve been kind of breaking it down in a couple different areas. We’ve had a few quarterbacks playing and different personnel playing. That’s something that we do every year at this time. It came at a good time to be able to do it”.
The fact that they have had such tumult and turnover at the quarterback position certainly adds an interesting wrinkle to the process. The Steelers only had the services of Ben Roethlisberger for six quarters, and most of the last six quarters were helmed by Devlin Hodges, with Mason Rudolph, now cleared from the concussion protocol, fielding the rest.
Asked it if was a challenge to self-scout amid all the issues that they have had, particularly at quarterback, Fichtner said, “a little bit, maybe, but we’re still looking at concepts, things that we do well that we’re asking them to do and things that maybe we need to do a little bit better”.
The good news is some of the things that they weren’t doing well, they have already started to do better. That goes especially for running the ball, though they can’t fool themselves into thinking that having success against the Cincinnati Bengals on the ground suddenly clears everything up.
There is still a lot of work to do in the passing game, but that’s no surprise given the turnover not just at quarterback, but also wide receiver, and even tight end. After getting a look at what they have to work with, it’s time to initiate a plan to carry them through the rest of the season.