The Pittsburgh Steelers did something we hadn’t seen from them all season long when they faced the Lions last Sunday – opening the game with the no-huddle offense. The Steelers and Ben Roethlisberger were very effective running the no-huddle and quickly found themselves up 14-0 against a Lions defense that was predicted to give this Steelers offensive line a difficult time. Despite the offensive brakes that were put on in the second half due to yours truly’s inability to stick with a game plan that is actually working, Big Ben and the rest of the offense were able to march their way back to a lead and a drive that sealed the win late in the fourth quarter. Because the offense on Sunday looked the best it has all season long, the question had to be asked during the week – Will the Steelers open up with the no-huddle again against the Browns in Cleveland?
Though folks like Scott Brown feel differently, I believe that this Sunday in Cleveland is as good a time as any to make the no-huddle a key component to the offense from here on out. As Brown points out, one of the pros to running the no-huddle against Cleveland is both the Lions and Browns have similar stout front lines. The no-huddle did not allow the Lions to move in and out of their base defense (that has been very effective this season) from huddle to huddle, and it kept their top linemen like Suh virtually a non-factor in the game. The no-huddle can do the same against Cleveland, and were the Steelers to put some scores on the board that didn’t come from Suisham’s leg, it could really take the crowd out of the game. And let’s face it Big Ben thrives in the no-huddle – and when Ben is happy and playing at top level, the team usually wins.
Brown and others argue that the weather plays a major factor in whether the Steelers should run the no-huddle or steer clear. The temps will be below freezing and there’s a 40% chance of snow showers during the game. The wind will be whipping off the lake at a blustery 20 mph. That would make just about any passing game shorten up and the run game take precedent. However, I don’t believe that’s a good choice for the Steelers. The run game has struggled all season due to the offensive line’s inability to consistently open up lanes for Bell and Dwyer. The Browns front line and LB’s will eat that up and cause headaches (possibly literally) for the offensive line and Bell. The Steelers will face 3rd and longs all afternoon, and those have not gone well this entire season.
Despite the cold, snow, wind, and being away I think the Steelers’ best chances for winning lie in the no-huddle and the quick passing game from Ben. There’s no need to play conservatively by running the traditional huddle. As some witnessed in the second quarter of the Browns and Bengals last week that if an offense puts pressure on the Browns defense by staying aggressive, they cave – not only defensively, but a guy like Jason Campbell struggled to bring the team back from the brink.
The Steelers are either faced with the option of sticking with the no-huddle and possibly knocking out Cleveland early while potentially going nowhere on offense because of slippery turf, slippery footballs, and inaccurate throws from the wind OR they go with the huddled offense and run game that has been a disservice to this team all season long, have very little momentum throughout, and keep Cleveland in the game for far too long. Let’s face it, if the no-huddle doesn’t work in the first quarter or even the first half, they won’t be any worse off than they usually are at that point in the contest and can move to the huddle later.
Yeah, I’ll go with the no-huddle, please.