Beauty in the Eye of the Beholder

The Steelers' new offense under coordinator Todd Haley has been described as anywhere in the range of 'frustrating' to 'exciting.' Mike Prisuta has the story from the South Side.

The play was memorable for its inertia rather than its execution.

Eventually, the ball was snapped. But not before someone in the group standing behind the formation had hollered "delay of game."

Not that tight end Heath Miller admitted to being distracted by such sarcasm. "You mean the one where it took forever for us to get the play off? No, I never pay any attention to that stuff," Miller insisted.

And so it goes on the South Side as the Steelers begin to grapple with the new offense.

Todd Haley's collection of plays and the verbiage by which they're identified remain open to interpretation (and at times difficult to grasp in a timely fashion).

Ben Roethlisberger continues to rely on verbiage such as "frustrated" and "frustrating" to characterize the pace at which the Steelers are absorbing and understanding Haley's masterpiece and the collective mindset of the offense in the interim. And the quarterback isn't alone in finding the work challenging to interpret and appreciate, at least here at the outset of OTAs.

"We're definitely eager to see how this thing is going to go," running back Isaac Redman said. "It's tough on everybody. We're just trying to get the hang of it."

Coach Mike Tomlin set a tone after OTA No. 1 on Tuesday by announcing his expectation that the players would "learn rather quickly" what is suddenly being required of them.

Clearly, some are more enthusiastic than others toward that end.

Willie Colon is all for the new offense. In discussing his transition from right tackle to left guard, Colon talked with great anticipation about his belief that the Steelers are "definitely going to run the ball more," and about how we should "expect a lot more play-action."

Center Maurkice Pouncey is also a big fan of what's taking place. "I like the new playbook," Pouncey said. "I like it a lot, man. Hopefully, everyone else does.

"It's exciting, man, especially the things coach Haley brings to this offense. It's really going to look a lot different this year, especially with the running game. We have a lot more running plays. We might run it a lot more in the red zone.

"I know it's going to work out for the best for us."

When the backs aren't running it they might just be catching it in the flat. That occurred often enough during Day 1 of OTAs that Pouncey was asked whether a Roethlisberger record for checkdowns had been set.

"It might have been, man, but (Chris) Rainey, he's special," Pouncey said. "You can check it down to him and let him do things in open space."

Such an approach would seemingly be in Baron Batch's wheelhouse as well as Rainey's. And Rashard Mendenhall's, provided he can get healthy.

Added Redman: "We're kind of emphasizing getting the ball to the running backs a little bit more this year. We'll see how it goes."

If it goes well no one will much care whether the Steelers are running it or throwing it.

Once Roethlisberger advances from frustrated to proficient the new offense will be perceived as a thing of beauty.

In the meantime, the initial glimpses provided and the initial reactions offered, in some cases volunteered, are compelling. That makes this May unlike any other in recent Steelers history.

"It's a totally different offense," wide receiver Emanuel Sanders assessed, "totally different play calls, totally different style.

"A lot of people have asked me is it more pass-happy or more run- happy? I think Coach Haley is going to do a great job; it depends on the team we're playing. It's definitely different route concepts, a lot of quick game and a lot of play-action.

"I think it's going to be fun."


Steel City Insider Top Stories