Group meetings pay for Steelers offense
The Steelers are doing things like never before on offense, in part because they're preparing as they never had prior to Mike Tomlin's arrival as head coach.
Two games into his tenure, Tomlin has been true to his stated intention not to micromanage.
For new offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, that's translated into the freedom to call plays that seek a specific target no matter the coverage.
To pull that off, the Steelers are conducting more meetings than ever before, not just by position and as an offense, but also as a skill-position ensemble.
"Before, the quarterbacks met with the quarterbacks, the wide receivers met with the wide receivers," wide receiver Hines Ward said. "We came together sometimes, the quarterbacks and the wide-outs, but we never watched film with the tight ends and running backs included."
Now, such gatherings are a regular part of the Steelers' Wednesday and Thursday routines.
"I want to do all the talking in that meeting so that everybody hears it in one voice," Arians said. "When we leave that room, we're on the same page."
As a result, the skill-position players are gaining an appreciation for how important their roles are on each play, even on occasions when their number isn't called.
"When Bruce calls a play, everyone is starting to understand what the play is supposed to mean," Ward said.
Ward knew, for example, that his role was critical on a deep ball the Steelers called on first-and-10 from the Browns' 40-yard line during their season-opening win on Sept. 9 in Cleveland. The play was designed to go to wide receiver Santonio Holmes, but its success depended on Ward running a hard, fast route at the proper depth to draw the front-side safety away from Holmes.
Ward did, and the play resulted in a touchdown.
The Steelers took a similar gamble in Sunday's home win over Buffalo after taking over on downs at their 37.
This time, free safety Jim Leonard didn't bite on the underneath route and was in position to provide deep help on Holmes and ultimately come up with an interception.
On both occasions, the Steelers broke the huddle determined to go to Holmes rather than to read the defense and react accordingly.
Ward, in his 10th season with the Steelers, can't remember a time when they were permitted to commit themselves in such a manner.
"No," he said. "I was wondering why (Roethlisberger) even threw that pass to Santonio, but that was Bruce. He wanted to take a shot, and he thought the safety was going to bite up on me and he said 'I want you to just throw it.' "
Arians took responsibility for the interception against Buffalo but said it won't alter his approach.
"We're taking our shots (deep)," Arians said. "If we don't take four shots, then we didn't do our job in my opinion, four to five every game."
The additional meetings weren't popular initially, but they're being embraced heading into Sunday's game against San Francisco.
"At first guys were griping about it," Ward said. "But right now we're 2-0. There's nothing to complain about."
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers notebook: Safety Mitchell faces former team, hurts leg
- Preseason valuable for Steelers’ offensive line
- Former longtime Steelers publicist Kiely dies
- Rossi: Steelers will make small strides this season
- For Steelers outside linebacker Jones, size is not an obstacle
- Steelers have plenty of new faces at wide receiver
- Steelers cornerbacks Allen, Gay, Taylor have something to prove
- Tomlin: ‘Everything on table’ for Bell, Blount punishment
- Steelers notebook: WR Moore says teammates’ pot bust won’t change focus in locker room
- Steelers defense waving flag on penalty calls
- Steelers’ Polamalu downplays emotional outburst