2020 Offseason Questions: Will Steelers Run More 4-5WR Sets Again With Ben Roethlisberger’s Return?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.

The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.

How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will the Steelers run more four-wide-receiver sets again in 2020?

One of the staple looks of Randy Fichtner’s offense as the 2018 season developed was the use of four-receiver sets, and morphed even into five-receiver sets. It was a package that they used a lot, for example, in the win over the New England Patriots.

With Ben Roethlisberger missing most of the season and in the absence of Antonio Brown, however, we barely saw this look at all in 2019. Over the past two drafts, the Steelers have added Diontae Johnson and Chase Claypool now, to add to the pairing of JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Washington.

So will they find ways to get all of them on the field at the same time? Might we even see some of that five-receiver look, with…whoever the fifth receiver ends up being? Ryan Switzer? Deon Cain? Somebody else, either on or off the current roster?

This is the most-pedigreed wide receiver room that the Steelers have had in some time, with four wide receivers that they have drafted within the first 66 selections of the past four draft classes. All three who have already been in the NFL have shown some level of skill, and are their top three receivers. Claypool is a 6’4”, 233-pound cherry on top with a huge catch radius.

The Steelers ran 18 plays out of five-receiver sets last year, all but two of which came with Roethlisberger at quarterback (and all but one of those being in Week One). They also ran nine snaps out of four-receiver sets, with a mixture of everybody at quarterback.

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