I really wanted to put the majority of the blame on Ben Roethlisberger for the Jaguars loss, but I just couldn’t. The Steelers set themselves up for failure with their game plan, and it was downright frustrating to watch. Ben’s failures only exaggerated what was an offensive disaster.
Even Jaguars fans were downright miffed by the Steelers play calling last Sunday. While I wouldn’t say this blame was on Tomlin, Todd Haley certainly is not excused. First, I really want to know why the heck the Steelers refuse to use play action passing.
Runs like this are examples of why I’m left scratching my head. When you run the ball and gain yards like this, the defense is gonna sell out to stop it. Why would you not try to move those linebackers and safeties up off the fake to open up the middle of the field?
The lack of play action passing in this offense is downright baffling to me.
Speaking of the middle of the field, the Steelers, from what I could tell, didn’t have much success over the middle of the field past 10-yards in this game. A lot of that has to do with the linebackers not getting sucked in whenever they passed it. I didn’t chart it, but I swear, I don’t think the Steelers ran a single play action pass in this game.
Another thing I have a problem with is how they used Martavis Bryant in this game.
This is infuriating to say the least and this wasn’t a one time thing either.
Why are you throwing to a crosser vs. a Cover 3 look? Why are you doing this vs. a LB tandem that’s among the most athletic in the league in Myles Jack and Telvin Smith. It makes no sense, especially when you realize where the holes in cover 3 are.
If you’re going to beat Cover 3, you have to attack these holes in the defense. Often times you’re going to have the outside CBs giving the WRs a pretty good cushion on the outside. As much as I know people hate screens, this was the perfect game to call them.
If you’re playing with that much cushion, and you have two DBs on one side and the only free defender is the deep safety, that’s not a lot of resistance. This makes it pretty easy to get about 4 to 10 yards a play, or so.
Pittsburgh’s best offensive drive came in the 2 minute drill before half time. It shouldn’t come as a shock that they attacked the same hole in cover 3 on the two key plays of that drive.
You can see Ben anticipate the throw about as soon as JuJu Smith-Schuster gets even with the safety. The window is between him and the FS, Ben hits it and JuJu is able to hang in through a big hit.
Throws like this show that Ben isn’t done either. If you think he’s lost his arm, I’m going to show you throws like this as a rebuttal.
Speaking of anticipation by Ben, here’s the other Cover 3 beater on the same drive.
Same hole, this time Ben seemed to manipulate the underneath safety with his set up and eyes. It made it sell like Ben was going towards the sideline, instead he hits AB perfectly in that hole. Ben threw this well before AB is even close to breaking his route.
It’s almost as if when you attack the weakness, it’s harder to make mistakes. Even though the Steelers did flash their moments of good play calling in this game, they didn’t find the same success in the hole between the Mack and the SAM linebackers.
Problems with attacking the hole between the Mack and the SAM LB though is the fact that these LBs (Jack and Smith) are extremely athletic. That makes a small window even smaller. You can see why I’m frustrated with the lack of play action passing for reasons such as this.
This is why I continue to be befuddled by the Steelers blatantly bizarre lack of play action passing in their offense. If you’re going to beat a zone defense, attack the holes, and if those holes aren’t opening, force them to respect the run.
It’s not that difficult of a concept.
I’m no offensive coordinator, and I know damn well Todd Haley and the Steelers know more about offensive play calling than I do, but if they’re going to find a way to win against the Chiefs on Sunday, they will need to establish play action. Being one dimensional and predictable on offense wasn’t ever going to work vs. a stout Jaguars defense, and it’s sure as heck won’t work vs. a more complete team on the offensive side.
The Steelers offense better get their crap together, or they will be playing from behind in this upcoming game.