While former Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger says that he doesn’t miss playing the game after retiring this offseason, he certainly seems as though he would miss talking. He launched a new podcast, Footbahlin, as the new season started, and he’s already pumped out a handful of extended episodes that largely consist of him going on tangents that most people who followed his career won’t care about.
But he did have something interesting to say about the Steelers’ upcoming Thursday night game this week against the Cleveland Browns. He talked about his own experiences in these short-turnaround games and how the offenses prepared in those situations—and how they simplified the offense by using the no-huddle call sheet.
“Short weeks are brutal. Brutal. Sometimes on Thursday, you’re still not right. So it’s gonna be tough to play”, he said. “Typically, in those short weeks, you really, I don’t want to say ‘dumb down’ the playbook, but you just go with what your core is”.
Of course, it’s not rocket science to suggest that you work from a more limited menu when you have less time to prepare for a game. Presumably, just about every team does this to some degree in every situation in which they don’t have the typical amount of allotted time. But Roethlisberger offered that it could go beyond the short-week preparation process.
“It’ll be interesting to see what they do this week. Are they gonna kind of go with what they’re good at?”, he said. “Maybe that’s what they need to kind of reset themselves, actually, getting back to doing what they do”.
He has Merril Hoge on as his guest, and Hoge actually talked about how it was common for them to have to ‘reset’ over the course of the season by going back to a core set of fundamental plays and working on them and getting back to the basics.
Perhaps this offense doesn’t have any basics right now. But it wouldn’t be a bad time to start identifying some candidates and seeing what they can get working against the Browns on Thursday night. And obviously they have a no-huddle play sheet. So maybe taking Roethlisberger’s suggestion wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world.
“We used to, our [offensive coordinators, Bruce Arians, Randy Fichtner], would turn the call sheet over, and that was our no-huddle side”, he said. “Because everybody knew the no huddle like the back of their hands because we had to, and it was easy to call from that and you could just go from there and do it”.
When even the players are observing from the locker room that things tend to go better out of the no huddle, it’s inevitably going to lead to comments and questions coming from fans and the media, and until they show otherwise, it’s legitimate. It’s prudent to work from an abbreviated menu this week for practical reasons, but could it also benefit beyond that?