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Was Ben Roethlisberger's Ailing Foot Accounted For in the Steelers' Week 15 Game Plan for the New York Jets?

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Wow, I sure was naive to think that I'd be mentally sharp enough to do a damn thing after driving 1250 miles over the course of 30 hours or so from Monday early afternoon to Tuesday early evening. I love me a good, long drive - plenty of time to think about the Steelers, the meaning of life, and everything in between. But man, even though I prefer them over annoying air-travel days, hard not to admit that it's taxing physically to drive 1200 miles by yourself (with two pets in tow).

Anyway, I'm here in sunny ridiculously rainy southern California for nearly two weeks, and though I'm too beat to write anything of substance here just yet, I do have plenty to say on both the Pittsburgh Steelers Week 16 game against the Carolina Panthers on Thursday night, as well as what I think will transpire in both conferences over the course of the final two weeks of the 2010 NFL regular season  

I'd also like to write a bit more about the Steelers loss to the Jets last Sunday, as I haven't been able to do so since leaving Monday afternoon thanks partially to the atrocious 'internet service' I had at my hotel last night. (La Quinta: Spanish for A Return to the Dial-Up Days).  But with such a short week this week, we shall we're our collective attention turns to this next few days leading up to Christmas on Saturday.

Regardless, I'm here on vacation, soon to be well rested, and I couldn't be more excited about what lies ahead of us in the next month. Great time of year for NFL fans. Let's enjoy while we can!

Now, to my quick thought that may or may not generate much discussion amongst you. But it stems from maryrose's Week 16 edition of Five Burning Questions. The first of his five questions asked about the play call that resulted in a safety late in the Steelers' loss to the Jets last Sunday. After reading y'alls responses to his questions - not just the first one - I was impressed by your insights, opinions, analysis, wit, etc first and foremost.  I was, though, surprised to see that nobody mentioned the fact that Ben Roethlisberger was playing with an ailing right foot that was heavily bandaged. He's Roethlisberger - you don't see him wince and limp and complain when he's competing. But let's not forget the fact that he was still really banged up last Sunday. 

Okay, we know Roethlisberger is tough as nails, so why do I bring this up?

Well, my hunch is that Bruce Arians devised a game plan that had Roethlisberger in the shotgun even more frequently than usual, including on running plays. The draw that resulted in a safety was run out of the shotgun, but though I can't check it this very minute, my hypothesis is that a high percentage of the Steelers' other running plays also came out of the 'gun. And I'll take it one step further and guess that a healthy number of pass plays also were run from the shotgun. That's nothing new necessarily for an Arians' offense, but I think that the Steelers' offense was a tad limited - or at least affected - by the fact that Roethlisberger's foot was hurt. There are obviously ways in which you can minimize the amount of physical exertion your quarterback puts on his feet, and the most obvious one is to put him in the shotgun where he doesn't have to engage in 3, 5, or 7-step drops that can easily add up over the course of a game. 

If you have the game on DVR of downloaded, weigh in and let us know what percentage of the Steelers runs came out of the 'gun. I simply haven't had time to do so, though I'll try to do the same myself tomorrow if nobody has had the time or inclination to re-watch and take note of just how many plays came from the shotgun.  

Anyway, I'm not saying that necessarily 'excuses' Arians calling a slow-developing draw to the running back on the roster with the least amount of escapability and strength to shed tackles. I hate almost every draw in the NFL. Draws typically only work when you're so far up shi&% creek offensively that the defense is willing to give you 5-12 yards. Maybe in college, but not in the NFL where defenders are waaay to well disciplined and athletically gifted.

I do though think that us fans are too quick to judge this or that decision at times - decisions that on the surface seem wholly inexcusable and unequivocally illogical. Just like every other aspect of life, it's rarely that black and white. Lots of other factors and prior decisions in play that introduce exponentially more nuance into the decision making process.  And in this instance, I wonder if the Steelers went into last set on limiting the number of times Roethlisberger would put stressful pressure on that foot.

Now that I think of it, seems like Roethlibserger was a touch more disciplined about getting rid of the ball against the Jets, perhaps in an attempt to limit the number of hits he took this week after being battered and bruised for nearly all of November and the start of December. Frankly, he didn't fare that well getting rid of the ball quickly. But even though we can't verify this one way or another for the time being, I'd also be interested in hearing your take on whether or not you agree that Roethlisberger seemed more intent on getting rid of the ball quickly against the Jets, especially early on in the game when the message was more loudly and clearly ringing in Ben's ear. Thoughts?

Happy Holidays friends! Look forward to having some fun with those of you all that are around the site the remainder of the week and weekend. Drinking game during Thursday night game (soda, espresso, juice all acceptable)? Like, a drink for every shot-gun run on 3rd and short? Two drinks for every Hines smile? Could be fun...