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Hines Ward blames Ben Roethlisberger, not Todd Haley

To Ward, it's all about play-calling in the no-huddle. The Steelers aren't running a lot of no-huddle so far this year, but this isn't a question of blame as much as responsibility.

Ron Schwane-USA TODAY Sports

It's all about blame in Pittsburgh today.

Ex-Steelers wide receiver Hines Ward is continuing his bout of relevancy by discussing the current state of affairs surrounding the team. He put the blame squarely on Ben Roethlisberger in a recent appearance on NBCSN. Ward's reasoning is based in the notion Roethlisberger is calling the plays in the no-huddle offense, not Todd Haley.

As true as that may or may not be, theoretically, Ben is only calling plays selected by Haley and implemented during practice that week. The execution of those plays is up to the players on the field and, if selection of the plays when the clock is rolling is up to Ben, that doesn't dismiss Haley from the success or failure of both of those things.

That's a long way of saying if it's broken, it's up to all of them to fix it. Neither Ben Roethlisberger nor Todd Haley told Markus Wheaton to run uninspired and confusing routes against Cleveland, leading to a 4-catch game on 11 targets, just five weeks after he shredded the same secondary for his biggest game as a pro.

There's plenty of blame to go around here. The question becomes how they respond to this.

Facing the game's best defensive player Monday in Houston's J.J. Watt, it's far less about play calls and far more about protection schemes. Giving your offense a chance to succeed means you have to take aggressive strides forward. Obviously, you can't block Watt with three guys on every play. Expect more quick-passing out of the shotgun but away from Watt's bomber-sized wingspan. In doing that, they'll have to be willing to take deep looks when man-coverage inches closer to cut off the shorter passing lanes.

The Steelers' Week 7 game will have to implement perhaps the team's most meticulous game plan to date. In other words, wait until after this one to start assigning blame because Houston's defense is more of a challenge to prepare for than Cleveland's. Then, if things still haven't been fixed with an extra day to prepare and a home game, we'll have a better sense of who's to blame.