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Reporter Questions How Much Autonomy Arthur Smith Has in Steelers Offense



Pittsburgh Steelers OC Arthur Smith

The Pittsburgh Steelers are signing free agent wide receiver Scotty Miller to a one-year contract, according a report by Adam Schefter of ESPN. The Steelers now have added four players this offseason who played in Atlanta for Arthur Smith, as Miller joins Cordarrelle Patterson, Van Jefferson and MyCole Pruitt.

In some sense, the Steelers have turned into Atlanta North, especially at the skill positions. There’s no doubt about it, it’s clear that new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith has a big say in some of the Steelers’ decision-making. The familiarity in a first-year offensive scheme certainly doesn’t hurt, however. The quartet of former Falcons could be used to help teach others the offense.

Aditi Kinkhabwala of CBS Sports questioned just how much autonomy Smith has in the Steelers offense, though. She thinks Art Rooney II and Mike Tomlin could be pulling the strings.

“I think that’s more a question of what is Mike Tomlin, and perhaps to some degree Art Rooney, dictating,” she said during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan. “I think that as opposed to someone who has complete autonomy to be a scientist in a lab, it’s you have to fit the philosophy of what the organization wants.”

Show host Chris Mueller pointed out that Smith has a history of relying on heavy running back and tight end packages. Last season with the Atlanta Falcons, Smith used 3+ wide receivers just 18% of the time, which was by far the lowest percentage in the NFL, according to Warren Sharp of Sharp Football.

Last year, the Steelers had 71 percent of their snaps come with three wide receivers on the field, the 10th highest in the entire NFL. With the shallow wide receiver room again this season, it would not be a surprise to see that once again.

The Steelers will have a new run scheme coming to town, too. Under Matt Canada, they primarily run inside zone and split zone as their base, but throughout the season last year, they became a more diverse team, leaning into duo and other gap runs with pulling guards. That is the way the league is actually going with how diverse they are in the run game, but Smith runs mostly one thing, and that is wide zone. Pittsburgh ran some of that under Canada, but last year, it was far from their main ingredient.

Atlanta ranked 27th in runs with a pulling guard while the Steelers ranked in the top ten. So, the question becomes how much of the previous run game stays and how much they embrace Smith’s wide zone concepts. You have to imagine that Smith’s run game schematics are going to pop in a significant amount, but it’s not crazy to consider that Smith would look around the NFL and try to pivot into embracing some of those gap schemes considering where other top play-callers are going into the 2024 NFL season with in general.

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Edward Carmichael
Edward Carmichael
May 10, 2024 9:30 am

as a true Steelers fan, I hope Arthur Smith throw the ball more to Calvin Austin ll, Darnell Washington