The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.
There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.
Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.
There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.
Question: How much time will Steven Sims see on offense today?
Things we know: Chase Claypool spent most of his time this season in the slot; Claypool is no longer on the team; Steven Sims spent a lot of time working in the slot in practice this week. Things we don’t know: how much the Steelers will run 11 personnel down one of their top receivers; how much Sims will be that third receiver when they do run it.
Outside of Diontae Johnson and rookie George Pickens, the only other wide receivers the Steelers have as alternatives to Sims are Miles Boykin and Gunner Olszewski. The former is primarily a special teamer, the latter would under other circumstances be sitting on the bench after losing his return job if they weren’t down to only five wide receivers.
So it’s rather likely that Sims is going to be the third receiver most often when the Steelers do use three receivers. There will be situations where they might use others, like using Boykin when they want to take a shot down the field.
But there are other packages to explore that they now have a golden opportunity take advantage of with the shuffling of their top weapons on offense. Why not use more two-tight end sets, not just with Zach Gentry as the number two but also with some packages featuring Connor Heyward?
Here’s a novel idea, use Derek Watt at fullback more. It’s not like it could hurt the run game. I would even like to see packages with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren on the field together. Both of them are capable of doing anything asked of them, including blocking for the other if necessary.
Let’s face it, what do they have to lose? They’re 2-6. They might as well be creative. There’s no sense in taking a ride-or-die approach with handing Sims 50-60 snaps per game if his performance doesn’t merit it and you have the chance to expand your versatility and unpredictability.