2020 South Side Questions: Will Steelers Use More Pre-Snap Motion As Season Progresses?

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the regular season, following the most unique offseason in the NFL since at least World War II. While it didn’t involve a player lockout, teams still did not have physical access to their players, though they were at least able to meet with them virtually.

Even training camp looked much different from the norm, and a big part of that was the fact that there will be no games along the way to prepare for. Their first football game of the year was to be the opener against the New York Giants.

As the season progresses, however, there will be a number of questions that arise on a daily basis, and we will do our best to try to raise attention to them as they come along, in an effort to both point them out and to create discussion

Questions like, how will the players who are in new positions this year going to perform? Will the rookies be able to contribute significantly? How will Ben Roethlisberger look—and the other quarterbacks as well? Now, we even have questions about whether or not players will be in quarantine.

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 continue to expand upon their usage of pre-snap motion in the offense?

Arguably the biggest wrinkle the Steelers have added this offseason, at least from a schematic perspective, has been the uptick in the usage of pre-snap motion on the offensive side of the ball. This has been widely credited to the hiring of Matt Canada, who is nominally the quarterbacks coach, and it’s been a very frequent topic during interviews, both in training camp and the regular season.

While the Steelers rank pretty high in terms of motion being used at the snap, there are still a number of teams who more frequently use pre-snap motion to show one look only to move to another, with the player or players in motion re-setting before the ball is snapped, such as flipping linemen from one side of the field to the other.

One thing that is worth noting is that most of their use of motion has come on running plays, with only a small handful of it on passing plays. The Steelers will want to balance this out or else risk telegraphing that motion almost always signals that a running play is coming.

At the outset of the year, head coach Mike Tomlin said that it might take time before we really start to see the imprint that a new face like Canada might be able to have, especially as he gets a grip on his main job tasks. Remarks like that feel like an indication that we could see even greater use of motion as the year progresses.

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