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83-Steelers-43
08-22-2007, 12:05 AM
More passes always seem to lead to more losses for the Steelers
Wednesday, August 22, 2007

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The game of football has been a simple equation for the Steelers through the years. Run = Victory. Pass = Disaster.

That's why it makes some people, inside the organization and out, a little nervous whenever they hear about the plans for the new Steelers offense to be more wide open.

More passes often mean more defeats for the Steelers.

Start with 2003, when they became enamored with the idea that quarterback Tommy Maddox could pass them into a Super Bowl. They averaged 93.0 yards rushing that season -- the only time in the past 40 years they averaged less than 100 -- and 206.5 passing and finished 6-10.

They returned to the ground game the next two seasons and led the league with a 154.0 average and went 15-1 in 2004 and averaged 138.9 in 2005 and won a Super Bowl.

Last year, they came within 67 yards of a team record when they threw for 4,026 gross yards -- and finished 8-8.

The logical conclusion would be to pack it in and run the ball more, not open things up and practically make the fullback vanish.

Few players, however, would agree, and none believes the Steelers will return to the Tommy Gun offense where they abandon the run in favor of the pass.

"I think Pittsburgh will always be a run-oriented team," Hines Ward said. "But I think we're going to find ways to be more ball control -- we don't have to just run, run, run and then try to convert third downs. We're going to pass on first and second downs and try to pick up a first down on first and second down instead of just being predictable."

That, quarterback Charlie Batch noted, is how they reached the Super Bowl after the 2005 season. Defenses in Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver expected to see the usual formula from the Steelers' offense -- run, get a lead, and then run some more to protect it. Instead, Ben Roethlisberger came

out throwing, and they caught defenses by surprise.

"I look at it more of how we kind of attacked teams during the playoff run in '05," Batch said. "We threw it early in the first half and then we were able to pound it out in the second half. I can kind of see that track happening this season, where you still get your attempts."

There's little doubt the Steelers' philosophy on offense will change, though. At times, they will look like the Oakland Raiders when they throw it deep. At others, they will take on a West Coast offense look, using the pass to control the ball in short spurts. A 4-yard gain, the theory goes, is the same whether it comes by run or by pass.

Even an old guard is convinced that getting away from the old tried-and-true, black-and-blue is the right way to go.

"I think we're definitely getting a step away from it," Alan Faneca said. "I don't know how many steps, but it's definitely going to be different. Teams are definitely going to have to play us differently. They can't sit on that, strictly come in and say we have to stop the run. That's going to force them to play us differently."

There will be more use of the no-huddle and quarterbacks calling their own plays, and more one-back sets with Willie Parker and four receivers. Coordinator Bruce Arians is convinced it's the best way to go, and he has convinced his players of it, too.

"When people say 'open up the offense and we're going to pass more,' that's not the sense," Ward said. "Bruce Arians loves to run the ball, no question about it. We're going to stick to our run, but we're going to do it different ways. We're going to be more balanced this year.

"It's going to be hard for a lot of defensive coordinators to really key on us because we're coming out in four-wide personnel -- we still run the ball out of four wides and we've picked up good yardage by spreading the field out and opening holes for our running back.

"Are we going to pass 50 times a game? No, but we are going to be more ball control and we're going to take our shots down the field. That's something Bruce Arians always does as a coordinator. When we played Cleveland here in the playoff game, he took his shots. If it weren't for one guy dropping the ball, they'd beat us in the playoffs."

The Steelers came from behind in the fourth quarter to win that game in Heinz Field, 36-33, Jan. 5, 2003, when Arians was the Browns' offensive coordinator.

It's the only time the Browns have made the playoffs since their return to Cleveland in 1999. Now, Arians has brought that offense to the Steelers.

"I'm excited about our offense," Ward said. "I know Willie, the receivers, the tight ends are all excited about making plays. We can't wait until the season starts."


Pass unhappy?

Steelers records in the top five passing seasons under Bill Cowher

Year
Quarterback
Yards
Team W-L
Playoffs?

2006
Ben Roethlisberger
3,513
8-8
No playoffs

2003
Tommy Maddox
3,414
6-10
No playoffs

1993
Neil O'Donnell
3,208
9-7
Lost wild card

2001
Kordell Stewart
3,109
13-3
Lost title game

1997
Kordell Stewart
3,020
11-5
Lost title game

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07234/811168-66.stm

delhess
08-22-2007, 12:17 AM
how ironic is it that last year indionapolis departed from their throw-first mentality in some of the biggest games they have ever seen and the result was a sb victory?

i remember peyton shaking his head at some of the play calling, but sometimes you step outside of the box and surprise yourself.

on the other hand, if you ignore your history (2003 season) you usually end up looking like a fool.

delhess
08-22-2007, 12:19 AM
"tight ends are excited about making plays"?? i'm still waiting to see that. hopefully coming soon.

tony hipchest
08-22-2007, 12:27 AM
hmmm. 2 of 5 years in the affc game. i'll take my shots with an experienced ben as opposed to kordell. after all ben has led us to 2 afcc games in the last 5 years w/o one of the top 5 pqassing attacks in the past 5 years.

what deserves mention is the 95 steelers who had an excellent 2 minute drill and 4 wr set with charles johnson, ernie mills, andre hastings, yancy thigpen, graham and stewart out wide.

if im not mistaken, the steelers scored more points in the final 2 minutes of the half or end of the game than any team that season.

i cant wait to see 4 wide on 3rd and 3 from the 50 and willie hand off to holmes for a 50 yd reverse.

FastWillieParker39
08-22-2007, 12:31 AM
If the oline can block, our offense should be pretty darn good. However, if they don't then Ben will be running for his life

TackleMeBen
08-22-2007, 12:35 AM
i think i will have to agree with tony on this.. i would rather take my chances with ben throwing the ball.. and besides, we can always dress the wrs up as cheese so he can hit them :wink02:

Preacher
08-22-2007, 12:36 AM
Oh Goodness...

I get tired of posting this thought... so I will shorthand it.

2003. The pass WASN'T tried. Why? Because we had a weak armed QB throwing the ball to a deep threat only cared about playing half the time. An offensive line that was unstable at best. And a RB that had serious issues actually running the ball (Amos Zero...).

Oh yeah, and let us talk about our defense that year... better thought, let us NOT talk about the DB's that year.


So nope, it really WASN'T tried.

tony hipchest
08-22-2007, 12:44 AM
our last 2 sb appearances proved atleast the threat of balance was key.

if you run run plays most of the time, and the defense guesses run play most of the time, odds say defense is gonna win if you dont have a back like jerome who can win most of the time vs 8 in the box.

for those who havent noticed, we no longer have jerome, and we currently have a qb of the likes we havent seen since bradshaw.

a shift away from cowher, grimm, and wisenhunt suggested such a change. a shift the rooneys didnt oppose. no reason we should oppose it either, i guess.

if all else fails, cowher will be available next season for the right price....

TackleMeBen
08-22-2007, 12:47 AM
if all else fails, cowher will be available next season for the right price....

no he will be the new coach for the panthers.. b/c they are going to suck and fox is going to get the boot

Edman
08-22-2007, 12:47 AM
Why do people assume the Steelers will be pass-happy this year? In truth they're just going to be more balanced and hopefully less predictable.

steelers forever 8
08-22-2007, 02:09 AM
After watching the o line and tight ends block so far this pre season. i have concerns about the new offense. sure we can pass, but running looks a lot harder with out a fullback.

Cherinko
08-22-2007, 02:57 AM
We dont lose because we pass alot. We pass alot because we're losing. It's not as if we're any worse passing the ball than most other teams in the NFL, it's just that when we run the ball, it's a sign we're already winning and dont need to pass as much. And vice versa.

Galax Steeler
08-22-2007, 04:44 AM
I don't think that we are going to pass alot more it just to get 4 reciver sets to open holes for willie.

Elvis
08-22-2007, 05:58 AM
I definitely agree that we need to do something different to help out our running game, but to let Big Ben pass the ball 30 times a game is gonna be a mistake I believe anyway. I wouldnt mind seeing a 3 WR set more often to just keep the defense guessing ya know, but when you go to 4 WR's and passing 30 or more times with Ben there is no telling what is going to happen..
:tt02:

SteelersMongol
08-22-2007, 07:24 AM
... a shift away from cowher, grimm, and wisenhunt suggested such a change...

Yep. This is a new era, new coach. New mentality! Those loses, the problem was (I think) coach Cowher only tried it, he wasn't really gonna apply it in as a whole plan.

.. if all else fails, cowher will be available next season for the right price....

Yeah, I don't think he's coming back. And folks, we're "stuck" with The-Man-In-Black for like another 15 years. :tt02:

steelers4
08-22-2007, 07:39 AM
83-steelers-43 all of those stats are in the past now and they mean nothing. unless your looking at 2006 your looking at mainly a different team. passing does not equal losing it equals winning.

if they went the whole year without passing they would lose.

Atlanta Dan
08-22-2007, 08:39 AM
Ed.B. of the P-G has his theme set up if this season craters - the Steelers abandoned the run.

In his online chat yesteday, to which I linked, Bouchette said cutting Kreider would send the wrong message about where the Steelers are heading this year.

Between that and the shots at the O-line shuffling that he stated yesterday, I get the vibe Bouchette does not think this offense currently is anywhere close to being ready to be a force during the regular season.

Howveer, with Parker as the RB the grind it out offense will not work; Willie P. can break way, but if it is 3rd and 2 there is no guarantee he will make the yardage. Add to that Davenport also not being a move the chains back and it is time to shake things up - it all depends on Ben getting time to make his reads and then stepping up his game and making them.

X-Terminator
08-22-2007, 09:01 AM
Why do people assume the Steelers will be pass-happy this year? In truth they're just going to be more balanced and hopefully less predictable.

You're a Steelers fan, and you need to ask that question? Our fan base is notorious for not liking change - if they had their way, Ben would throw 5 passes a game. And of course, they'd be the first ones bitching about why the offense sucks and can't score any points. You mention throwing the ball more, and everyone assumes we're going to turn into the early 80's Chargers or the Rams from 5 years ago. :dang: They all conveniently forget that when we made our SB run, what did we do? We passed the ball to get a lead, then pounded it out the rest of the way - just what Charlie Batch said in the article. When someone can tell me what's so scary about being less predictable and a dual-threat to run or pass on any down, I'll reconsider my opinion.

BlastFurnace
08-22-2007, 09:34 AM
I'll just be happy to see Heath Miller get more involved in the passing game. It's about time that we realize that we are wasting a tremendous offensive threat that we are treating like he is Mark Bruenner # 2.

Livinginthe past
08-22-2007, 02:22 PM
Its a chicken and egg stat that isn't just particular to the Steelers - it pretty much applies to the NFL as a whole.

When you can't move the ball consistently (either on the ground or in the air) you tend to find yourself behind and probably behind big on a fairly regular basis.

When you are behind big or late in a game you have to pass, but passing (especially when teams know you are forced into it) becomes very dangerous, leads to turnovers and ultimately losses and a poor record.

It takes time to transition from a grinding running offense that passes sparingly into a balanced attack that can go aerial at will.

This transition could mean the possibility of another 6-10 year because the transition affects the whole team, right through to the defense who may have to play less aggressive due to more time spent on the field.

The franchise and fanbase have to be prepared for short term losses to get long term gain - of course the NFL isn't exactly blessed with patience but the Pittsburgh owenrship (if not its fans) seem to have that level of patience.

steelpride12
08-22-2007, 02:54 PM
i think i will have to agree with tony on this.. i would rather take my chances with ben throwing the ball.. and besides, we can always dress the wrs up as cheese so he can hit them :wink02:

Ya, but Ben threw alot last year and it got him 23 INT's. I don't see how throwing more will help def. since were a run based team.

OneForTheToe
08-22-2007, 02:55 PM
This, "don't throw too much or we lose argument" is kind of a chicken and the egg argument. Did throwing more really make us into be a poor team; or did we throw more because we were a poor team to begin with and thus were usually always behind?

TackleMeBen
08-22-2007, 03:50 PM
Ya, but Ben threw alot last year and it got him 23 INT's. I don't see how throwing more will help def. since were a run based team.
but in Ben's defense he was making very bad decisions and not reading the routes well.. maybe coach tomlin has worked with him on his color blindness this year:wink02:. he does have a very good arm to throw the ball.

Stlrs4Life
08-22-2007, 10:31 PM
Why do people assume the Steelers will be pass-happy this year? In truth they're just going to be more balanced and hopefully less predictable.

We have a Bingo! I really can't believe Bouchette wrote this, but bet he wrote this just to throw out a page for the day.

SteelCityMan786
08-22-2007, 10:46 PM
hmmm. 2 of 5 years in the affc game. i'll take my shots with an experienced ben as opposed to kordell. after all ben has led us to 2 afcc games in the last 5 years w/o one of the top 5 pqassing attacks in the past 5 years.

what deserves mention is the 95 steelers who had an excellent 2 minute drill and 4 wr set with charles johnson, ernie mills, andre hastings, yancy thigpen, graham and stewart out wide.

if im not mistaken, the steelers scored more points in the final 2 minutes of the half or end of the game than any team that season.

i cant wait to see 4 wide on 3rd and 3 from the 50 and willie hand off to holmes for a 50 yd reverse.

One of the AFCC games Ben won.

I just hope we don't go big with the pass. It just isn't Steelers football.

JackHammer
08-22-2007, 11:11 PM
how ironic is it that last year indionapolis departed from their throw-first mentality in some of the biggest games they have ever seen and the result was a sb victory?

i remember peyton shaking his head at some of the play calling, but sometimes you step outside of the box and surprise yourself.

on the other hand, if you ignore your history (2003 season) you usually end up looking like a fool.

I think stepping outside of the box is the key thing here. We did it in the 05 playoffs by going pass first in our biggest games. It's not about changing what you do. It's about when/how you do it.

Steeldude
08-23-2007, 08:51 AM
2003 was also the season where the steelers had only one starter on the O-line play in every game.

the problem during the kordell era was the fact that kordell was a WR, not a QB. but for some odd reason the steelers thought he was one.

it all comes down to a balanced attack. enough said :)

steelpride12
08-23-2007, 01:21 PM
but in Ben's defense he was making very bad decisions and not reading the routes well.. maybe coach tomlin has worked with him on his color blindness this year:wink02:. he does have a very good arm to throw the ball.

Thanks babe u have always have my side.

ShutDown24
08-23-2007, 01:53 PM
Wow Ed, you just put that together,,, Congratulations on pointing out a statistic so unbelievably obvious that even the national media talked about it last season.

WisconsinSteelerMan
08-23-2007, 02:16 PM
I know that there is a brand of Steelers Football that we have all grown to know and love and that we all HATE to see change. The thing is...IT HAS CHANGED... We have a new coach for the first time in 15 years. This is for all intents and purposes a new team... I think that if we have the weapons to use...USE THEM. I think that Ben is taking the game WAY more seriously than he did in the past. He is realizing that he actually has to practice and review his play from week-to-week. I think that he is one year more mature, and he has the weapons to throw to.

Why not open it up a bit and let them fly. As long as we can have the run as balancing act to keep everyone else guessing, I see it as a WIN!

Crawling back into my hole to avoid the flames!

Mike in La Crosse, WI