Steelers' passing game is nothing new

Pittsburgh didn't turn into a pass-happy outfit overnight. And just because they threw more than they ran against Denver, it doesn't mean the team has lost its identity. In fact, this is the game plan made popular during the Super Bowl run.

Perspective is a funny thing. Following the Sunday night loss, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's John Harris penned possibly one of the most hair-brained columns I've read since Joe Bendel left the paper a few years ago. It reeks of lazy writing, half-truths, and is loaded with more clichés than you can swing a dead cat at. There are enough fatuous statements to fill a presidential debate, but I'll just point you to my favorite:

Led by an offense that normally runs the ball first and asks questions later, the Steelers called Willie Parker's number only three times in the opening quarter. Either the Steelers didn't have much confidence early in their ground attack, or Denver's short-handed defense, ranked last against the run, showed the rest of the league how to whip the Steelers up front.

Look, just because the Pittsburgh Steelers came out throwing the ball all over the yard doesn't mean the team is suffering an identity crisis. You can question the overall game plan but to suggest that the team must not have had much confidence in their ground attack is just … well, stupid.

Yeah, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called 10 pass plays and three running plays in the first quarter. Big whoop. Anybody watch the Steeler's first five games? Here are the first-quarter run-pass breakdowns (with the percent of all plays that were runs in parenthesis):

CLE: 4 runs, 7 passes (36%)
BUF: 6 runs, 6 passes (50%)
SF: 4 runs, 3 passes (53%)
ARI: 6 runs, 10 passes (38%)
SEA: 5 runs, 5 passes (50%)
DEN: 3 runs, 10 passes (23%).

Notice anything? Sunday night wasn't the first time Pittsburgh featured the pass over the rush. Oddly, however, John Harris only mentions the Steelers losing their identity when they lose. ("As they did in their first loss of the season, at Arizona, the Steelers appeared to lose their identity last night.") He confuses things further when he suggests that the team didn't play to its strength -- the running game -- and, get this, they abandoned the run altogether in the second half. That, without a doubt, is the dumbest sentence ever written.

A couple of thoughts. First, did anybody else see eight and nine Broncos defenders standing near the line of scrimmage? You think with the bye week, an atrocious Denver run defense, and facing the league's leading rushing team, defensive coordinator Jim Bates came into the meeting room last Tuesday and said something to the effect of, "I don't care if Ben Roethlisberger throws for 500 yards, WILLIE PARKER AIN'T BEATIN' US!"

So knowing that, Harris still thinks the Steelers are suffering an identify crisis? Really?

Second, I'm sure Arians stole a page out of the 2005 postseason manual when game-planning for Denver. That the galaxy's best cornerback, Champ Bailey was questionable with an injury made it even easier (he ended up not playing). Let's see, should the Steelers a) run Parker into a eight-body wall of human flesh all night, or b) take his chances with Big Ben, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller, and Timmy Spaeth versus a banged up and aged Broncos secondary? Decisions, decisions.

Don't misunderstand, there were plenty of moments where I was yelling at the television -- and a Bruce Arians in particular -- and then sat blank-faced as the ridiculousness ensued. If the Steelers had run another draw play, I was heading to the garage to start the car, windows up. Ditto for Kendall Simmons shadow boxing as defenders strolled past him on their way to plastering Roethlisberger.

But in terms of all the pass plays, I had no real issue with them. Save the Big Ben fumble for six (I won't even include the Hines Ward tipped interception, even though he makes that grab nine times out of 10), or one defensive stop, and we're not even having this conversation.

And if you think otherwise, you're kidding yourself. For shiggles, I looked back at the 2005 postseason, when the Steelers did exactly what their opponents expected them not to do: they passed the ball. A lot. And it worked. I don't recall many objections to that strategy at the time. In fact, I have a distinct recollection of people praising Ken Whisenhunt as a genius, and predicting he'd make a great head coach, blah blah blah.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, here's the chart. A few things to note:

* In the first quarter of every postseason game (including the Super Bowl), the Steelers passed more often than they rushed. And the same holds true for the second quarter, save the Super Bowl (the ratio was 50/50). Strangely, in the second half, Pittsburgh was primarily a running team, preferring to keep the ball on the ground -- and the clock moving -- on an astonishing 70 percent of the plays. Hmm, why do you think that was? I'm sure Harris points to this as proof that the 2007 Steelers lost their identity: they didn't run the ball in the second half Sunday night.

* During the divisional game in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh had 31 offensive snaps in the first half, and called 21 pass plays, a 32/68 run-pass ratio. Sunday night, the Steelers had 35 offensive snaps, and called 24 pass plays, a 31/69 run-pass ratio. Looks familiar. According to Football Outsiders, Indy's run defense ranked 17th in 2005, so following the logic prescribed above, Pittsburgh should've kept to their identity and run the ball. You know, like they did in that Monday night matchup a few months earlier, when they were absolutely embarrassed on national television.

The 2007 Broncos rank 29th in run defense, so I suppose you could make the argument that the Steelers HAD to run the ball. Even with everybody standing near the line of scrimmage. It's a weak argument, though, particularly since Pittsburgh's had a lot of success throwing when opponents sell out to stop the run.

For me, it's pretty simple: it starts with the offensive line, which had a rough go of it in Denver. The defense was a no-show, but the chances of that happening again are a lot less than, say, Kendall Simmons missing 12 blocks in a row. The run-to-pass ratio is somewhere near the bottom of things to be worried about with this team (just ahead of Skippy Reed going to bars topless). In the future, if people are going to call out the Steelers for being pass happy when they lose, I'd recommend they voice those same complaints when the Steelers win. It makes it infinitely easier to spot the nutjobs.

As always,

Your IGP (inveterate glorified poster)

Steel City Insider Top Stories

\r\n\r\nPerspective is a funny thing. Following the Sunday night loss, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review's John Harris penned possibly one of the most hair-brained columns I've read since Joe Bendel left the paper a few years ago. It reeks of lazy writing, half-truths, and is loaded with more clichés than you can swing a dead cat at. There are enough fatuous statements to fill a presidential debate, but I'll just point you to my favorite:

Led by an offense that normally runs the ball first and asks questions later, the Steelers called Willie Parker's number only three times in the opening quarter. Either the Steelers didn't have much confidence early in their ground attack, or Denver's short-handed defense, ranked last against the run, showed the rest of the league how to whip the Steelers up front.

Look, just because the Pittsburgh Steelers came out throwing the ball all over the yard doesn't mean the team is suffering an identity crisis. You can question the overall game plan but to suggest that the team must not have had much confidence in their ground attack is just … well, stupid.

Yeah, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called 10 pass plays and three running plays in the first quarter. Big whoop. Anybody watch the Steeler's first five games? Here are the first-quarter run-pass breakdowns (with the percent of all plays that were runs in parenthesis):

CLE: 4 runs, 7 passes (36%)
BUF: 6 runs, 6 passes (50%)
SF: 4 runs, 3 passes (53%)
ARI: 6 runs, 10 passes (38%)
SEA: 5 runs, 5 passes (50%)
DEN: 3 runs, 10 passes (23%).

Notice anything? Sunday night wasn't the first time Pittsburgh featured the pass over the rush. Oddly, however, John Harris only mentions the Steelers losing their identity when they lose. (\"As they did in their first loss of the season, at Arizona, the Steelers appeared to lose their identity last night.\") He confuses things further when he suggests that the team didn't play to its strength -- the running game -- and, get this, they abandoned the run altogether in the second half. That, without a doubt, is the dumbest sentence ever written.

A couple of thoughts. First, did anybody else see eight and nine Broncos defenders standing near the line of scrimmage? You think with the bye week, an atrocious Denver run defense, and facing the league's leading rushing team, defensive coordinator Jim Bates came into the meeting room last Tuesday and said something to the effect of, \"I don't care if Ben Roethlisberger throws for 500 yards, WILLIE PARKER AIN'T BEATIN' US!\"

So knowing that, Harris still thinks the Steelers are suffering an identify crisis? Really?

Second, I'm sure Arians stole a page out of the 2005 postseason manual when game-planning for Denver. That the galaxy's best cornerback, Champ Bailey was questionable with an injury made it even easier (he ended up not playing). Let's see, should the Steelers a) run Parker into a eight-body wall of human flesh all night, or b) take his chances with Big Ben, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller, and Timmy Spaeth versus a banged up and aged Broncos secondary? Decisions, decisions.

Don't misunderstand, there were plenty of moments where I was yelling at the television -- and a Bruce Arians in particular -- and then sat blank-faced as the ridiculousness ensued. If the Steelers had run another draw play, I was heading to the garage to start the car, windows up. Ditto for Kendall Simmons shadow boxing as defenders strolled past him on their way to plastering Roethlisberger.

But in terms of all the pass plays, I had no real issue with them. Save the Big Ben fumble for six (I won't even include the Hines Ward tipped interception, even though he makes that grab nine times out of 10), or one defensive stop, and we're not even having this conversation.

And if you think otherwise, you're kidding yourself. For shiggles, I looked back at the 2005 postseason, when the Steelers did exactly what their opponents expected them not to do: they passed the ball. A lot. And it worked. I don't recall many objections to that strategy at the time. In fact, I have a distinct recollection of people praising Ken Whisenhunt as a genius, and predicting he'd make a great head coach, blah blah blah.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, here's the chart. A few things to note:

* In the first quarter of every postseason game (including the Super Bowl), the Steelers passed more often than they rushed. And the same holds true for the second quarter, save the Super Bowl (the ratio was 50/50). Strangely, in the second half, Pittsburgh was primarily a running team, preferring to keep the ball on the ground -- and the clock moving -- on an astonishing 70 percent of the plays. Hmm, why do you think that was? I'm sure Harris points to this as proof that the 2007 Steelers lost their identity: they didn't run the ball in the second half Sunday night.

* During the divisional game in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh had 31 offensive snaps in the first half, and called 21 pass plays, a 32/68 run-pass ratio. Sunday night, the Steelers had 35 offensive snaps, and called 24 pass plays, a 31/69 run-pass ratio. Looks familiar. According to Football Outsiders, Indy's run defense ranked 17th in 2005, so following the logic prescribed above, Pittsburgh should've kept to their identity and run the ball. You know, like they did in that Monday night matchup a few months earlier, when they were absolutely embarrassed on national television.

The 2007 Broncos rank 29th in run defense, so I suppose you could make the argument that the Steelers HAD to run the ball. Even with everybody standing near the line of scrimmage. It's a weak argument, though, particularly since Pittsburgh's had a lot of success throwing when opponents sell out to stop the run.

For me, it's pretty simple: it starts with the offensive line, which had a rough go of it in Denver. The defense was a no-show, but the chances of that happening again are a lot less than, say, Kendall Simmons missing 12 blocks in a row. The run-to-pass ratio is somewhere near the bottom of things to be worried about with this team (just ahead of Skippy Reed going to bars topless). In the future, if people are going to call out the Steelers for being pass happy when they lose, I'd recommend they voice those same complaints when the Steelers win. It makes it infinitely easier to spot the nutjobs.

As always,
[MEDIA:488690]
Your IGP (inveterate glorified poster)\r\n","mobileBody":" Perspective is a funny thing. Following the Sunday night loss, the 's John Harris penned possibly one of the most hair-brained columns I've read since Joe Bendel left the paper a few years ago. It reeks of lazy writing, half-truths, and is loaded with more clichés than you can swing a dead cat at. There are enough fatuous statements to fill a presidential debate, but I'll just point you to my favorite:



Look, just because the Pittsburgh Steelers came out throwing the ball all over the yard doesn't mean the team is suffering an identity crisis. You can question the overall game plan but to suggest that the team must not have had much confidence in their ground attack is just … well, stupid.

Yeah, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians called 10 pass plays and three running plays in the first quarter. Big whoop. Anybody watch the Steeler's first five games? Here are the first-quarter run-pass breakdowns (with the percent of all plays that were runs in parenthesis):

CLE: 4 runs, 7 passes (36%)
BUF: 6 runs, 6 passes (50%)
SF: 4 runs, 3 passes (53%)
ARI: 6 runs, 10 passes (38%)
SEA: 5 runs, 5 passes (50%)
DEN: 3 runs, 10 passes (23%).

Notice anything? Sunday night wasn't the first time Pittsburgh featured the pass over the rush. Oddly, however, John Harris only mentions the Steelers losing their identity when they lose. (\"As they did in their first loss of the season, at Arizona, the Steelers appeared to lose their identity last night.\") He confuses things further when he suggests that the team didn't play to its strength -- the running game -- and, get this, . That, without a doubt, is the dumbest sentence ever written.

A couple of thoughts. First, did anybody else see eight and nine Broncos defenders standing near the line of scrimmage? You think with the bye week, an atrocious Denver run defense, and facing the league's leading rushing team, defensive coordinator Jim Bates came into the meeting room last Tuesday and said something to the effect of, \"I don't care if Ben Roethlisberger throws for 500 yards, WILLIE PARKER AIN'T BEATIN' US!\"

So knowing that, Harris thinks the Steelers are suffering an identify crisis? Really?

Second, I'm sure Arians stole a page out of the 2005 postseason manual when game-planning for Denver. That the galaxy's best cornerback, Champ Bailey was questionable with an injury made it even easier (he ended up not playing). Let's see, should the Steelers a) run Parker into a eight-body wall of human flesh all night, or b) take his chances with Big Ben, Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes, Heath Miller, and Timmy Spaeth versus a banged up and aged Broncos secondary? Decisions, decisions.

Don't misunderstand, there were plenty of moments where I was yelling at the television -- and a Bruce Arians in particular -- and then sat blank-faced as the ridiculousness ensued. If the Steelers had run another draw play, I was heading to the garage to start the car, windows up. Ditto for Kendall Simmons shadow boxing as defenders strolled past him on their way to plastering Roethlisberger.

But in terms of all the pass plays, I had no real issue with them. Save the Big Ben fumble for six (I won't even include the Hines Ward tipped interception, even though he makes that grab nine times out of 10), or defensive stop, and we're not even having this conversation.

And if you think otherwise, you're kidding yourself. For shiggles, I looked back at the 2005 postseason, when the Steelers did exactly what their opponents expected them not to do: they passed the ball. A lot. And it worked. I don't recall many objections to that strategy at the time. In fact, I have a distinct recollection of people praising Ken Whisenhunt as a genius, and predicting he'd make a great head coach, blah blah blah.

Anyway, for your viewing pleasure, here's the chart. A few things to note:

* In the first quarter of every postseason game (including the Super Bowl), the Steelers passed more often than they rushed. And the same holds true for the second quarter, save the Super Bowl (the ratio was 50/50). Strangely, in the second half, Pittsburgh was primarily a running team, preferring to keep the ball on the ground -- and the clock moving -- on an astonishing 70 percent of the plays. Hmm, why do you think that was? I'm sure Harris points to this as proof that the 2007 Steelers lost their identity: they didn't run the ball in the second half Sunday night.

* During the divisional game in Indianapolis, Pittsburgh had 31 offensive snaps in the first half, and called 21 pass plays, a 32/68 run-pass ratio. Sunday night, the Steelers had 35 offensive snaps, and called 24 pass plays, a 31/69 run-pass ratio. Looks familiar. According to Football Outsiders, Indy's run defense ranked 17th in 2005, so following the logic prescribed above, Pittsburgh should've kept to their identity and run the ball. You know, like they did in that Monday night matchup a few months earlier, when they were absolutely embarrassed on national television.

The 2007 Broncos rank 29th in run defense, so I suppose you could make the argument that the Steelers HAD to run the ball. Even with standing near the line of scrimmage. It's a weak argument, though, particularly since Pittsburgh's had a lot of success throwing when opponents sell out to stop the run.

For me, it's pretty simple: it starts with the offensive line, which had a rough go of it in Denver. The defense was a no-show, but the chances of that happening again are a lot less than, say, Kendall Simmons missing 12 blocks in a row. The run-to-pass ratio is somewhere near the bottom of things to be worried about with this team (just ahead of Skippy Reed going to bars topless). In the future, if people are going to call out the Steelers for being pass happy when they lose, I'd recommend they voice those same complaints when the Steelers win. It makes it infinitely easier to spot the nutjobs.

As always,
[MEDIA:488690]
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