It's not about the huddle, offensive collaboration is key

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sport

Whether Ben Roethlisberger is calling plays at the line or Todd Haley signals them into the huddle, what's important in the Steelers' last six games is getting all contributors on the same page.

How do those cliches go again?

There's no "I" in team? It's amazing what a team can accomplish when no one cares who gets the credit? All good stuff.

All currently being overlooked in wake of Pittsburgh's 37-27 win over Detroit Sunday - a.k.a. No Huddle Sunday.

Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has his share of critics and his supporters. One thing that's very difficult for the public to argue is he is not quick and effusive with his praise on the team, and his speed to take the blame in a loss.

That message seems even more important now.

The Steelers have managed to win four of its last six games after an 0-4 start. They stand on the edge of the playoff race in the AFC, but face their most daunting task yet - back-to-back divisional road games, one in a short week (Thanks, NFL). The Steelers have a weapon fans have been clamoring for over the last few years - the no huddle they ran extensively and successfully against Detroit. Stands to reason it will be employed to a higher degree against Cleveland in Week 12 and Baltimore in Week 13.

Perhaps not as much as it was against Detroit, but clearly, they cut through Detroit's defense, making something the team has struggled with in their previous 25 games - scoring points.

Should it matter who was actually calling the plays?

It's an odd concept to many, but the offensive coordinator isn't always a tyrannical dictator. The micromanaging task of calling the play isn't always done in a "run this or else manner." A no-huddle offense is usually dictated by the quarterback, but that direction is bestowed to the quarterback based on the general vision from the offensive coordinator and position coaches.

To Roethlisberger, everyone contributes.

"It’s a combination when we come to the sidelines," Roethlisberger said, as quoted by Post-Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette. "It’s me calling them out there, but on the sidelines I’m talking to all the receivers, tight ends, and running backs, coach Haley, coach Randy Fichtner, all the coaches. "We are trying to brainstorm and see what is the best, so they can best prepare me when I am on the field to call the best play possible."

Perhaps this topic will come up when offensive coordinator Todd Haley speaks to the media Thursday, but the lack of running game against the Lions - a team that's now allowed 197 rushing yards in its last four games - was by design as much as anything else. It didn't seem likely the Steelers would run well anyway, so the decision was made to attack their porous secondary.

And it worked. It worked to a high degree. Was that the result of Roethlisberger's voice in the huddle magically transforming plays called into successful ones, or was it simply the collaboration of many voices channeling through the team's quarterback, all with the intention of putting the team in the best possible position to succeed?

Or, put another way, which would work better overall?

If the no-huddle offense quickens the tempo of a team that's likely to be at a disadvantage hat-to-hat with their offensive line against their opponents' defensive line for the rest of the year, and it helps Roethlisberger exploit that advantage, they should continue doing it.

But any benefit of that is only the result of a naturally collaborative game plan that should mandate the inclusion of several opinions. Those opinions will spawn other opinions, and that kind of organic game-planning is impossible to predict.

It's not about what Haley is calling. It's not about what Roethlisberger is calling. It's the process of several individuals working together on what they do well. Whether Ben has the final say over the play call, or Haley tells him which of three plays to pick is irrelevant if the team isn't comfortable and confident in those calls.

If the team can come to that at the line of scrimmage, or they need to huddle up to hash it out, it doesn't matter. Considering the enormous challenge of consecutive must-win divisional games in the next nine days, let's hope that collaboration continues.

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