There are several tentpole drills that the Pittsburgh Steelers like to run during training camp. Seven Shots is a big one, but perhaps the most significant is the running of the two-minute drill, which they typically do at the end of practice.
Head coach Mike Tomlin gives the offense and defense a scenario (for example, 1:37 left, one timeout, ball on the offense’s 28-yard line), and they have to go out there and play it out. Whether the offense wins or the defense wins, something good can come of it, but some things you just don’t want to see happen.
Like ending the game with a pass short of the goal line, tackled three yards out. That’s how fourth-year quarterback Mason Rudolph’s two-minute drill was capped off when he targeted JuJu Smith-Schuster short of the goal line with little time remaining, before safety Minkah Fitzpatrick came on to make the tackle three yards away from the end zone. Time expired before they could run up and spike the ball.
“At 15 seconds, we’ve got to take shot at the endzone”, Tomlin said when he was asked about his reaction of frustration in that scenario. “When Minkah tackled that guy in the field of play right there, the game’s over, and we’ve got to have that level of awareness”.
“It was annoying, yes, but I also acknowledge that the learning process is part of this”, he added, while also acknowledging that his response came from his feeling that some involved should know better. “It’s an opportunity to teach, but some of those guys have been around a little bit, and so I expressed that feeling”.
According to our notes, Rudolph completed all six of his pass attempts during his two-minute opportunity, but Tomlin was displeased with how that final completion took shape. He climbed the pocket before finding Smith-Schuster open, but Tomlin wanted to see the ball heading for the end zone in that context, when you don’t have time to run another play.
When asked if the blame was more on Rudolph or on offensive coordinator Matt Canada, he would only offer that it’s on everybody. The offense or the defense fail as a unit, not as individuals, and that includes the coordinators. It’s on the total group to do better, and not to leave the ball on the three as time expires.
On the plus side, Dwayne Haskins’ shot at the two-minute drill ended in much better fashion on what sounds like a good day overall for the third-year arm as he competes for a roster spot. The session was capped off when he found rookie wide receiver Rico Bussey open down the right sideline for a deep score.