As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare to face the Baltimore Ravens in Week 4 on Thursday Night Football, many fans within the Steelers' vast fan base are concerned about the team's chances of surviving this AFC North rivalry game, and beyond, without Ben Roethlisberger at the helm.
Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks in the league, so obviously fans will show some concern for the fact when the Ravens come to town it will be Michael Vick under center, and not No. 7. Although concern is there, it doesn't mean the Steelers can't win this upcoming game, and beyond, with Vick at quarterback. The team just needs to get the recipe in tact to increase Vick's talents, or to play within his "comfort zone" as Mike Tomlin said in his press conference Monday.
As fans have become accustomed to seeing the Todd Haley quick hitting offense work to perfection with players like Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell thriving within the system, the offense with Vick at quarterback will look different, but not necessarily worse.
One of the biggest differences in the Steelers recipe for success with Vick under center will be their approach to the game plan. The Steelers are a balanced unit, which often trends towards the pass when things go unbalanced. It is safe to say the Steelers will look to Le'Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams to help carry the load, and to take pressure off Vick.
How the Steelers will approach the running game will also be interesting to watch. The Steelers would be wise to run the majority of their plays from the shotgun formation. This will not only give Vick more time to scan the field, but will give the offense versatility within their offensive plays, as the team has proven more than capable of running out of the shotgun. To add onto the shotgun formation, the Steelers could also look to go into more 2 and 3 wide receiver sets, all with the intent of running the football. Spreading out the defense will open up lanes and help create favorable one-on-one matchups along the solid Steelers' offensive line.
Haley and Tomlin will obviously look to have plays Vick is comfortable with installed into the game plan, but the game plan has to still revolve around players like Antonio Brown. When Vick entered the Week 3 game against the St. Louis Rams, Brown's production came to a screeching halt. Getting Vick on the same page with the league's best wide receiver with quick passes will be the best elixir for keeping the Ravens' pass rush at bay.
Lastly, the Steelers offensive line certainly should be a big part of the Steelers recipe in the transition to Michael Vick. Despite giving up 5 total sacks vs. the Rams on Sunday, the offensive line has been a bright spot for the Steelers in this young 2015 season. Putting trust in the line to provide Vick the kind of time Roethlisberger had been afforded through nearly 3 weeks should give fans hope Vick can make this new scene work.
The Steelers have a tough stretch of games ahead of them throughout Roethlisberger's absence, but there is nothing to suggest this prolific offense can't do enough on the field to win football games, despite the fact it will be Michael Vick throwing passes for the foreseeable future. They just have to find that perfect recipe to success, and hopefully it is found prior to Thursday night.