PITTSBURGH — The Steelers know they will not learn a new scheme overnight. New offensive coordinators Eddie Faulkner and Mike Sullivan will tell you that not much can change; in fact, Faulkner said as much. It’s too late in the season to make such a drastic change, but it could be enough time to make tweaks that impact how their season will play out. Don’t expect any crazy changes.
“No, I mean, you can’t,” Faulkner said. “We are in the middle of the season. You got to roll with what we been doing, putting game plans together, what our guys can execute, and we’re going to continue to do that.”
But they can allow quarterback Kenny Pickett to be put into a solid situation. He does not expect any changes, but wrinkles that allow the existing scheme to pop more than it is right now could be the solution.
“You can’t have wholesale changes at this point,” Pickett said. “We’re going to run the system that we’ve been using. Coach Sully and Coach Faulk, they’re going to put their wrinkle on what they want to run and when they want to run it.”
What is the change they can make in the passing game? Enhance the use of motion into meaningful building blocks and use play action to attack areas of the field that can allow for explosive plays. Pittsburgh faces some lowly pass defenses on the schedule that could allow these wrinkles to pop.
The Steelers don’t use play action much, but its benefit is almost a net zero when they do. Meanwhile, they use motion at the snap at a league-average rate, but its benefit is virtually a net zero when used. Why? The fancy buzzwords like ‘motion’ and ‘play action’ are staples that every team in the league uses to some degree. But Pittsburgh’s usage of both is without purpose on plays. Instead, it is either short throws to the flat that will result in a modest catch and run but not an explosive play or something that takes away from the play.
I want to see motion used to give free releases, new stacked looks, and for play action to attack the middle of the field. These things are all in the playbook in some manner. We saw them at training camp. But they have not come to fruition. And maybe Pickett is just bad at it, but I would like to find that out. Open up the field a little bit and give the quarterback some easy layups, and if he fails you from there, the picture of the offense becomes clearer. But these are basic things that Pittsburgh should do.