No one expects a team to page to the back of the playbook during the preseason. Game plans aren't really established, and offensive coordinators look to find the balance between well-practiced plays and variations of those plays in order for the players to get used to the basics as well as give them a chance to execute and show coaches what they can do.
Alan Robinson wrote a feature in today's Tribune-Review in which he quotes Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley as saying "not a whole lot of new is going to be showing up" in regards to the Steelers' playbook.
What Haley shows during preseason action, including Sunday's night's home game against Indianapolis, is a different story.
Haley called an understandably conservative game, with heavy involvement of tight ends blocking and running backs being the focal weapon of the attack. His first play was a screen pass (a completion to RB Isaac Redman), and he called several more on top of it. As Robinson pointed out, the Steelers had at least one tight end on the field in every play they ran.
The Steelers' offensive execution wasn't as crisp as it could have been, but in comparison, neither was Philadelphia's.
It's likely we'll see much of the same kind of strategy in Sunday's game as we did last week. They'll continue to work on screen passes and try to establish a running game along with that. Pass protection was clearly an issue, but it's something that will work itself out over time.
That first screen pass, by the way, went for five yards. What offensive coordinator doesn't like a 2nd-and-5 situation? The benefit of this kind of approach is it forces teams to have disciplined linebackers who can move laterally at high speed. Redman was able to get up field for a respectable gain on that first play, and Philadelphia's linebackers played well the whole game.
Haley doesn't need to open up the playbook nearly as much as players need to execute what's called. If Haley is set on making sure players are as prepared as they can be to execute five running plays and 10 passing plays, and those are all he calls, every offensive player is in a position to execute.
That's what the preseason is for, and the execution piece is what we can expect the Steelers to improve on against the Colts.