Steelers' film session: Offense displays quick-strike capability
Put yourself in Todd Haley's shoes for a minute.
You are required to come up with a game plan against one of the most disruptive defensive fronts in the league, which doesn't allow teams to run the ball.
Sure, the Jets might be vulnerable defending the pass, but your offensive line won't allow that to happen with the struggles they've had protecting the quarterback.
You would love to get the ball in the hands of Antonio Brown, Heath Miller and Le'Veon Bell, but, once again, the fear of pressure and possible game-altering turnovers are a worry.
So, what would you do?
Well, Haley came up with the ultimate quick-strike plan of screens, quick throws and extra protection, Ben Roethlisberger executed it to perfection, and the Steelers collected a 19-6 win over the Jets.
Six of the Steelers first eight pass plays were screens, with three of them targeting Brown; Roethlisberger got rid of the ball in less than two seconds in all but 12 of his 30 throws; there were at least two tight ends on the field for 35 of the Steelers' 61 offensive snaps.
That resulted in Roethlisberger getting sacked only three times and hit three other times. He completed 23-of-30 passes for 264 yards and the game's only touchdown to Emmanuel Sanders.
It all started with the screens for Haley.
He called 12 total, with Brown leading the way with four catches. Bell and Miller had three, and Sanders one. There was one incompletion.
Even when a screen wasn't called, Roethlisberger got rid of the ball on rhythm. His first 10 attempts were all quick throws: 0.97, 0.96, 1.81, 1.71, 1.41, 1.76, 1.67, 1.01, 2.79 (sack), 3.40 (pump fake) and 1.81 seconds.
Add an extra tight end in the formation, and it was obvious that Haley wasn't taking any chances to allow the Jets' defensive line to be disruptive — especially early in the game.
• If Jarvis Jones has shown anything over the first month of the season it is that he can be disruptive. But the rookie can also be, well, a rookie. On two occasions, the Jets took advantage of Jones' eagerness — one of which resulted in Jones taking a seat on the bench. The first play of the game, Jones slammed down the line of scrimmage that allowed Geno Smith to gain 9 yards on a zone read to the spot left vacated by Jones. In the second quarter, Jones got sucked in during an end-around by Mike Goodson. The play resulted in only 2 yards, but Jones went to the bench and did not return until the start of the third quarter. Jason Worilds, who replaced Jones, sacked Smith on the next play.
• Ryan Clark was responsible for the Steelers' first turnover of the season, but William Gay should get an assist. Gay, who replaced Cortez Allen in the starting lineup, jammed Jets tight end Konrad Reuland right before the 5-yard legal limit than threw him off his route. Smith threw to a spot — a spot that was occupied by Clark because of Gay's success at throwing off the Jets' timing.
• The outside zone blocking scheme was never going to be a big part of the Steelers' running game, but it is looking more like it might be gone for good. The Steelers called 26 run plays and didn't use the outside zone once. However, it has become a nice part of the Steelers' play-action and waggle game, which forces defenses to flow to one side allowing the backside to be open clear.
• Kelvin Beachum got whipped by Muhammad Wilkerson early. The play would have resulted in a safety if it wasn't for the nifty footwork of Ben Roethlisberger. After that, Beachum didn't allow a hit, a pressure or miss an assignment the rest of the game — despite a couple of questionable holding calls. What was most impressive with Beachum was his ability to get to the second level — something that's not common with tackles.
• The Steelers love to use the “quarter” personnel of six defensive backs — Gay, Clark, Ike Taylor, Troy Polamalu, Cortez Allen and Shamarko Thomas. Against the Jets, they leaned more heavily on their base package because of their ability to run the ball. Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has 27 base calls, 28 quarter calls and two nickel calls. The Steelers' most success came out of the base; they allowed only 120 of the Jets' 267 yards with two turnovers.