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Splash plays and Haley's WR usage

 
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CKSteeler


Joined: 17 Mar 2013
Posts: 5387
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 9:32 pm    Post subject: Splash plays and Haley's WR usage Reply with quote

I'm talking about pass plays over 20+ yards which the Steelers actually rank pretty high in, but which have come in bunches in a few games and been absent in others.

The one thing this team had going for it in the second half of last year was Antonio Browns ability to create after the catch. The offense got a lot of cheap yards working him in the middle of the field where he had space to do something with the football. We have not seen that this year.

I attribute this to two things:
1. The team is looking to run more out of their shotgun formation so they want bigger bodies inside. Thus, the routes that would be going to Brown last year are going to Justin Brown and Heath Miller more often than not.
2. The team lost Cotchery and Sanders. They replaced that with Wheaton, Justin Brown, and Heath Miller. Wheaton is being used pretty much in the Sanders role, but Brown and Miller inside are being used inside for reasons listed in #1.

A 20 yard pass play on a fade is nice. It also doesn't give the WR as much of a chance to do something with the football after where as if you get Brown the football in space between the numbers, he has a pretty good chance of making a few tacklers miss. He's one of the most dangerous WR's in the league with the ball in his hands, but because the team is looking for guys who can help block...

The team has tried to compensate with WR screens (notably absent from the gameplan this week, thankfully) and end arounds which they have run at a pretty ridiculous pace.

Yards after the catch need to be a part of this offense for it to succeed as its designed, but the team is basically conceding the middle of the field (a reversal of the over emphasis in Haley's first two years) with slow bodies who lack the talent to create on their own. They are doing this for the run game at the expense of the passing game.

The personnel packages make this offense even more predictable than it was before.
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CKSteeler


Joined: 17 Mar 2013
Posts: 5387
PostPosted: Mon Oct 13, 2014 9:37 pm    Post subject: Reply with quote

And think about the play to Archer in the pre-season. The team has used him almost exclusively as a runner thus far. They seem to want to establish that when they bring him on the field, they will not only run, but target the middle of the field when they do so.

Yet, it seems like it would be easier to break him in and get results if you gave him the ball on quick plays where his speed could actually show. I don't mind using him to run inside. It's almost necessary to keep the defense honest and there is potential to break off a run if the blocking sets up right. But that should be secondary.

We've also seen very little of Wheaton in between the numbers even though Haley/the team talked up his ability after the catch when he was drafted. He was like a RB as a WR, we were told. So, why isn't he being used like that?
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Steeler Hitman


Joined: 25 Apr 2006
Posts: 1186
Location: Laurel, MD
PostPosted: Tue Oct 14, 2014 5:21 am    Post subject: Reply with quote

Good comments CK Steeler.

The offense is also out of sync in the passing game despite some of the success moving the ball. That is part of why they can't put the ball in the end zone. Some of it is the play calls but also as you stated how personnel is being used. I will also add to your thoughts as well.

The timing between Big Ben and particularly Wheaton, Justin Brown and Lance Moore is not consistently there yet. Antonio Brown has been used in the ways that you described and has not readily been given a chance to stretch the field or run down the middle of the field consistently. Miller is not (and never was) a speedy TE who can stretch the defense inside the middle of the field. As you stated the team seems to struggle on how to use Dri Archer now that he is healthy again. His injury probably contributed to the comfort level and being in sync with the offense as well.

As a result, splash plays are not as consistent as they should be with the talent that is available. Some of it is growing pains and the other is design. The growing pains will ease with practice and success. The scheme and play calling is the coaching. The last three games the offense has left 100 - 150 yards in missed opportunities and minimum of 7 - 14 additional points per game as well.

Todd Haley is not always an easy guy to like as a coordinator, but there is the potential to be a downright explosive and scary offense. Dropped passes, inaccurate passes, sacks, fumbles, and penalties have kept this offense from hitting stride and becoming elite. Not many teams have as good a big three as Ben, A. Brown and L. Bell.
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