"The waiting is the hardest part."
Those words sung by Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers ring true for Pittsburgh Steelers fans everywhere, at least when it pertains to the team's potent offense in 2015.
After sitting through the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, OH watching Ben Roethlisberger, Le'Veon Bell, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant, Markus Wheaton and Maurkice Pouncey all in street clothes, fans were finally given a chance to watch the starters in action Friday night against the Jacksonville Jaguars, and they didn't disappoint.
It took 6 plays in just three minutes for the team to complete an 80-yard drive which was capped off by a 44-yard touchdown pass from Roethlisberger to Bryant. To say fans were mesmerized by the team's offensive capabilities is an understatement. The potential this unit possesses has to be downright frightening for opposing defensive coordinators.
The passing attack is certainly noteworthy. After all, in the modern NFL the game is built around stellar quarterbacks. However, if you watch the opening drive against the Jaguars, there are some underlying factors which might take a back seat but shouldn't be overlooked.
Breaking down that 6-play drive might best illustrate my point:
Play 1: Shotgun formation, Bell to Roethlisberger's left, 3 WR set, Wheaton motions from left to right.
Result: Completion to Antonio Brown for 6 yards
Play 2: Shotgun formation, empty backfield, Bell split wide left
Result: Completion to Bell for 9 yards and a first down
Play 3: Single back formation, Heath Miller motions from left to right
Result: Bell rush off right side for 16 yards
Play 4: 'I' formation, Brown the lone receiver on left side of the field
Result: Bell rush off right guard for a gain of 2 yards
Play 5: 'I' formation, Miller motions from left to right with Brown lone receiver on right side
Result: DeAngelo Williams rush up the middle for 3 yards
Play 6: Single back formation, bunch to the right with Miller, Wheaton and Bryant
Result: 44-yard play action completion to Bryant for a touchdown
Just like that, the Steelers struck pay dirt, but look at the drive and you'll see a couple things which should make fans extremely happy.
First, the Steelers ability to stay balanced throughout the drive. Bell rushing for 18 yards on two carries helped set up the play action pass to Bryant for a touchdown. Without success in the running game, play action rarely works.
Second, there were no negative plays. Every snap resulted in positive yardage. Whether it was a rush for 2 yards or a completion for 6, the Steelers were constantly moving the ball and forcing the defense to adjust.
Lastly, the Steelers variation of formations helps them move the ball with ease. Whether it was the throwback 'I' formation with Roosevelt Nix paving the way for Le'Veon Bell, or the bunch formation which resulted in a touchdown, the Steelers have the look of an offense which can run or pass from nearly any formation, which makes them even more versatile and dangerous.
The drive was impressive, exciting and downright enthralling when fans thought about watching this offense work for a full 4 quarters. Not all drives will be this easy, but to see them put on such a display in limited work in the preseason leaves fans wanting more. Their next chance will be this Sunday when the Green Bay Packers come to Heinz Field for the team's third preseason game.
The waiting is the hardest part.