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Old 08-21-2007, 11:05 PM   #1
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Default More passes seem to lead to more losses

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
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:17 PM   #2
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Default Re: More passes seem to lead to more losses

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.
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:19 PM   #3
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Default Re: More passes seem to lead to more losses

"tight ends are excited about making plays"?? i'm still waiting to see that. hopefully coming soon.
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:27 PM   #4
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Default Re: More passes seem to lead to more losses

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.
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:31 PM   #5
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Default Re: More passes seem to lead to more losses

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
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:35 PM   #6
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Default Re: More passes seem to lead to more losses

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
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:36 PM   #7
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Default Re: More passes seem to lead to more losses

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.
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:44 PM   #8
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Default Re: More passes seem to lead to more losses

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....
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:47 PM   #9
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Default Re: More passes seem to lead to more losses

Quote:
Originally Posted by tony hipchest View Post
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
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Old 08-21-2007, 11:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: More passes seem to lead to more losses

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.
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