The Steelers’ offense has been struggling, to say the least. The team is 28th in the NFL in scoring at 16.7 points per game, a near-10-point drop from the 2020 unit.
Worse still, there are zero reasons to expect much of that to get better over the coming weeks other than hope and natural regression to the mean.
However, there might be a silver lining to the Steelers’ offense. Magically, when they go to a no-huddle or up-tempo type of offense, they move the ball much better. Maybe, there is a reason behind what this effect is for the Steelers’ offense?
It is in fact not a peculiar phenomenon at all. No-huddle offenses work because of the tempo change they bring with them. It is quite simple. Put on the shoes of a defensive player just for a second. If a team goes on a static tempo the entire game, it is much easier to go through run fits, assignments, responsibilities, and process things up front. That is very much the reason that no-huddle works. It causes havoc in the head of defensive players and forces them to get their responsibilities with great quickness. It can lead to lapses, breakdowns, or miscommunication among all the players. The Steelers have caused some of this at times by going up-tempo whenever they do.
The other advantage of no-huddle is the obvious fact that teams do not get substitute new personnel. Well, maybe they can, but that risks making those guys get out of position or causing a 12-men on-the-field penalty. These are the numerous advantages of going into a no-huddle offense. The Steelers are creating new stresses when they go up-tempo as a result of their largely static gameplan prior to when they actually do so.
Yet, this is not the only way the Steelers can speed up the internal clock of teams. They could also utilize what is known as a sugar huddle. Essentially, the offense gets into a huddle two or three yards away from the line, and after they break it, they try to get the snap off as fast as possible. That can cause just as much havoc as one would imagine up front. More importantly, it actually gives the offensive line a bit of break. With pass rushers often simply not ready and not having time to develop a cogent strategy, this can help out an offensive line as much as it can confuse a defense.
That is to say, tempo changes are the Steelers’ best friend right now. There are few proven things this offense does well. However, going up-tempo and getting their quarterback and offensive line into a rhythm is in fact one of those ways. It can ease the stress on some of the offense and put more on the defense. Matt Canada is known for his changing of tempos. He did it at all of his stops in college.
The changing of tempos is obviously not the fix-all sale. However, if there is one way the Steelers can wane through tough waters while they try to figure out everything else, incorporating tempo into the gameplan as a tool to maybe get the offense going to a degree would be a good start.