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Steelers Burning Questions: Intermediate and middle of the field Edition

Bombs Away, or Dink and Dunk?

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers Minicamp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

This isn’t something new, and in fact it’s something that drives me insane. Insane to the fact I find myself yelling at the TV while watching our beloved Pittsburgh Steelers play. I mean no one’s listening so why do I do it? Let me also tell you that it drives my wife nuts when I stand up right in front of a 65” inch television, sometimes blocking her view. She’s called the get back coach in my household, always pulling on my waist band to get the “bleep” out of her way. I won’t apologize for how I watch the Black and Gold, or for demeanor in my own house...yes for three hours a week I become unhinged.

The definition of insanity is repeating the same thing over and over, expecting different results. Well here we are looking at a similar offense which refuses to use the middle of the field or throw some intermediate routes. But why?

Is it something that our aging QB refuses to use? Is it set up in the all around scheme from the offensive coordinator? You watch other teams use the middle of the field, in fact Henry Ruggs came all the way across the field in the game on Sunday catching a pass and, if I remember correctly, ran out of bounds before being hit.

I get the fear of the middle of the field, no one wants to get lit up, but teams find ways to have players running free on the Steelers’ defense all the time, and the middle of the field is sometimes used. I’m sure Jon Gruden doesn’t want Ruggs lit up because he just doesn’t have the size to take that kind of punishment, but what teams do is scheme to have these plays run.

Where is this scheming in the offensive pass sets? Do the Steelers not have plays designed to have a great route runner such as Diontae Johnson, who can free himself against just about any defender, come across the middle without taking a great impact hit. I don’t want anyone getting crushed, but a third of the field is not being used.

I remember one play in the preseason with Mason Rudolph at quarterback. Chase Claypool was lined in the slot and ran a 12-15 yard out route along the side line. The defender was not even close and I said to myself “Claypool is going to kill it from the slot”. To me, this sets up the seam for later in a game which also involves the intermediate as well as using the middle of the field.

I’m no expert by any stretch of the imagination, and there are more qualified members here at BTSC that can shine light on this mystery. I’m not the only one that recognizes the lack of use. The local media, other Steelers fan sites and just the general talking heads of the league see it too. It makes no sense to me, so I’m hoping that someone can provide some insight why this it’s either ‘Bombs Away or Dink and Dunk’?

Inquiring minds want to know.

Now onto those Burning Questions:

  • Why do the Steelers refuse to use the intermediate and middle thirds of the football field?
  • Why is Chase Claypool only used on end arounds and the deep heave and pray? Am I the only one that thinks he would kill it in the slot on occasion?
  • Why is JuJu Smith-Schuster relegated to just catching 5 yard turn arounds?
  • Where is the two tight end sets, it’s not like the offensive line can’t use some help blocking?

As always, Stay Safe and Go Steelers!