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More Play Action? Steelers Could Make Key Schematic Change in 2023




PITTSBURGH — The Steelers could be shifting a key schematic concept in 2023. Play action has long been an afterthought for Pittsburgh, but could that change in 2023? Allen Robinson II thinks that it’s very possible the Steelers could end up running a lot more play-action this year.

In 2022, Kenny Pickett was among the league’s bottom in just about every metric related to play action, including raw attempts, with just 70. Overall, the team ran play action on just 16 percent of their snaps, 21st in the NFL a year ago. While that is a slight increase, Pickett had a measly 5.5 yards per attempt, the worst in the NFL among starting quarterbacks. So, with rumored changes occurring, a more robust play-action game could make sense.

“Yeah, I get the vibe that there will be a lot of it,” Robinson said. “We still, for us, need to have quicks and things like that. With Kenny being mobile and everything, it’s different (than the Rams). Most offenses will have that element of play action, and certainly with a guy like Najee. You’re going to be able to draw defenses up and that will be a big element.”

Miles Boykin, another wide receiver, talked about the same thing. While the Steelers’ offense goes hunting for big plays in the 2023 season, especially in the passing game, play action is expected to be a key element of that with a strong running game. In the past, Canada has utilized play action and the Steelers could look to do it in 2023.

“It can be huge (play action),” Boykin said. “Anytime you have a quarterback like Kenny that is mobile and can move and do different things, it gives the defense an aspect they have to think about. The more things you throw at a defense, the more liable they are to make some of those mistakes.”

This one feels like a wait-and-see moment to truly see if it shows up on game day. But the team could use it to unlock the middle of the field. Doing so can lead to far more explosive plays with YAC opportunities for the passing offense at large. If it does happen, it is a welcome change.