- Throwing them off balance: The Steelers ran the no-huddle offense in the first two drives of Sunday’s game against the Lions, both of them resulting in touchdown receptions by
Antonio Brown. Coach Mike Tomlin said the main reason was to help counteract the effectiveness of the Lions’ dominant front line that includes Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley and limit their defensive communication.
“We thought that we could throw them off balance and maybe minimize some of the things that they were capable of doing, maybe even let fatigue set in a little bit,” said Tomlin. “That was one element of it. Another element of it is you change the flow of defensive communication and maybe minimize some of the things that you see. All the normal things that you go through in terms of the decisions that you make whether or not you use no-huddle, those were part of the equation for us last week. They’ll be part of the equation for us this week.
“We have a certain scripted set of questions that we ask, if you will, if we choose to employ it as a weapon. If enough things are favorable for us, then it’s something we’ll consider, work on, prepare and utilize.”
- Proceed with caution: The no-huddle is something Tomlin has said in the past has to be used cautiously, and he reiterated that because of television copy and calls being picked up by the microphones that are utilized by network television, particularly on nationally televised games.
“There are audio things to be concerned about, quite frankly,” said Tomlin. “Particularly in prime time television games when there are boom mics and stuff that work on those cables above the field. Technology has changed the way that is viewed. Television copy of no-huddle offenses has a lot of information on their video. It’s something that has been going on in football for a number of years, so you’ve got to be very cautious about employing it, how much you employ it, how you change your verbal communication – there are a lot of things that are capable of limiting your ability to run no-huddle besides your willingness or your desire to.”
Playing to win: The Steelers ran the no-huddle in the fourth quarter against the Lions while down 27-23, and continued to go with it after taking a 30-27 lead. Quarterback
Ben Roethlisbergersaid when he went to the sidelines, Tomlin was adamant about sticking with the no-huddle.
“It was working for us, so why change?” said Tomlin. “Why play not to lose? And more than anything, it’s that mentality. We play and we play to win.”
- Times up: Coaches can communicate with the quarterback through audio in the quarterback’s helmet until there are 15 seconds remaining on the play clock. In the no-huddle, hurry-up offense, it’s common for that communication to continue even when the quarterback is at the line of scrimmage. Tomlin said that isn’t a problem for Roethlisberger, and doesn’t cause any confusion.
“That’s routine,” said Tomlin. “As long as there is more than 15 seconds on that play clock, we have the ability to communicate with him, like everybody in the National Football League does, even if they’re at the line of scrimmage.
“He’s a professional like all of those guys are. You’ve got to be able to give and receive information. That is part of some of the things that go on in no-huddle-like communication, not only on offense but on defense as well. I just think that’s where we are in today’s NFL. Yes, he is communicating with people and yes he is getting information in his ear, but I’m sure there are 31 other starting quarterbacks that deal with similar issues under those circumstances.”
Plenty on the menu: Roethlisberger is choosing some of the plays in the no-huddle, a number Tomlin wasn’t certain of, but they are plays that are all part of the team’s regular offense and are part of the menu of plays available for each game.
“Make no mistake. There is a lot of preparation that goes into this,” said Tomlin. “There is a menu of plays decided upon collectively during the course of the week, and he is simply picking from that menu. We’re not there unscripted, leaving him up to his devices, even though he’s fully capable, that wouldn’t be fair to him. There is preparation involved. There is a certain level of preparation and preparedness and a menu, if you will.
“Those plays that we employ in no-huddle, we also employ in our normal offense. It’s not like it’s a different set of plays. It’s just how we choose to communicate prior to the ball being snapped and the smaller menu, if you will, of play selection associated with no-huddle offense.”