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The Pittsburgh Steelers offensive game plan without Antonio Brown

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The Pittsburgh Steelers will be without their most dynamic playmaker in Antonio Brown. Take a look at how the Steelers will devise a game plan to score points without No. 84.

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First, I am not an offensive coordinator. Nor am I going to claim to be smart enough to devise an actual game plan which a NFL team would deploy, but what I do know is the Pittsburgh Steelers. Their personnel, their tendencies and I have an educated guess as to how they will want to attack the Denver Broncos defense without their best wide receiver, their starting running back and a bum throwing shoulder of their franchise quarterback.

Seems like the offense is in dire straits, but maybe not. Before talking about the X's and O's of this potential matchup, it should be noted about the environment. Sports Authority Field at Mile High is far from a trip to the San Diego Chargers, where Steelers fans take over the stadium. There will be Terrible Towels, but not nearly enough to make the impact the Steelers have seen in other venues this season.

The Steelers odds of going into their no-huddle or muddle huddle offense to try and maximize matchups is certainly intriguing, but without Brown at wide receiver, combined with the crowd noise they might be limited into what they can, and cannot, do from a communication standpoint.

With that said, if I were sitting in the office with Todd Haley, pitching him my 4-point game plan for success without Brown, it would look something like this.

  • The Steelers can ill afford to allow the Denver defense to bring their safeties into the box to not only stop the run, but to prove Ben Roethlisberger cannot throw the football downfield. With that said, it will be up to Roethlisberger to try and stretch the field early in the game to prove he can throw the deep ball, but also to get the safeties out of the box.
  • On top of stretching the field, the running game will be extremely important. If there is ever a time to try and keep an offensive balance between run and pass, it is today. If the Steelers have to rely on Roethlisberger to throw 50 times, like he had to in Week 15, it could spell problems with him throwing the football. Fitzgerald Toussaint and Jordan Todman did a tremendous job filling in for DeAngelo Williams, and that will have to continue in Denver.
  • Utilize run/pass formations to help keep the Denver defense guessing. It has been a while since we've seen the Steelers deploy the famous "bunch" formation with regularity, and they would be smart to look at those formations this week to not only help in pass protection, but also to give the offense versatility in play calling, without tipping their hand. Also, this can allow Heath Miller to be utilized as a pass catcher and blocker to the best of his ability.
  • Utilize the short passing game as an extension of the running game. The Steelers love the bubble screen passes to Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton, and that should continue Sunday. Doing so will allow Roethlisberger to throw an easy throw without the risk of getting sacked. Take this a step further and extend it to those quit hitting passes to wide receivers when the Denver defense is playing a soft coverage scheme.

There you have it. It will be difficult with Roethlisberger's potential limitations and with no Williams and Brown, but if the team can utilize what they have to the best of their ability, this team still has plenty of talent on their roster to score points -- even against the top ranked defense in the NFL.