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Steelers look to increase play-action passing attack

Ben Roethlisberger AP

With their rushing attack struggling in 2013, the Pittsburgh Steelers also lost the ability to successfully utilize their play-action passing attack.

The Steelers ranked 27th in the league last season in rushing and were tied for 29th in average yards per carry at just 3.5 yards per attempt. That lack of effectiveness on the ground made it easy for opposing defenses to not have to respect their play-action fakes. It was a missing aspect of the Steelers offense that they hope to recapture this season.

According to Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers used play-action on just 11 percent of their passing plays last season. Offensive coordinator Todd Haley wants to see that number increase this season.

“Running the football, whether we’re huddling or no-huddling, is something we’ll do better, a lot better,” Haley said. “That will only help what we’ll be able to do. I believe we’ll be able to throw it with anybody.

“When you can throw it as well as we did with the run game not exactly where we wanted it tells you we have a chance to be good. When you’re running the football it makes throwing a heck of a lot easier.”

Per the Post-Gazette, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had only 74 dropbacks with play-action last season, throwing for 470 yards with three touchdowns and four interceptions.

The Steelers did see some positive signs from rookie running back Le’Veon Bell, who started 13 games for Pittsburgh last year. Bell rushed for 860 yards and eight touchdowns and caught 45 passes out of the backfield for 399 yards. If Bell and the rest of the Steelers rushing attack can take a step forward, it could help bring that play-action element back to the offense and provide some better opportunities in the passing game for Roethlisberger.

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24 Responses to “Steelers look to increase play-action passing attack”
  1. thestrategyexpert says: Jun 27, 2014 12:42 AM

    Fake the handoff and throw it deep to Tomlin down the sidelines.

  2. realdealsteel says: Jun 27, 2014 12:51 AM

    Steelers will win their division. 11-5 record.

  3. tokyosandblaster says: Jun 27, 2014 1:16 AM

    Unfortunately, no one takes this offense seriously.

    They have literally no one who is more than mediocre.

    No one.

    >

  4. steelers33 says: Jun 27, 2014 5:00 AM

    Couldn’t run because of our oline. Expecting pouncey,decastro and munchack to get us back on track.

  5. tommy57 says: Jun 27, 2014 6:02 AM

    Cart in fort of the horse here. Fix the running game and the play action will take care of itself.

  6. baltimorons says: Jun 27, 2014 6:20 AM

    Super Bowl.

  7. bigbenownsthenfl says: Jun 27, 2014 6:22 AM

    11-5 record steelers win the afc north easily! And we shall return to glory! Bungles are the bungles. Ratbirds are all convicts who only care about partying and wife beating and the browns? Well I’m sure that needs no explanation!

  8. geezohman says: Jun 27, 2014 6:39 AM

    Not too many years for Big Ben, this just might be the year the Steelers make an impact. Browns won’t be a factor yet, Dalton is just becoming a so so QB and this year will be big for Ravens QB. Good year coming up.

  9. mikea311 says: Jun 27, 2014 7:07 AM

    a running game usually helps…

  10. zam0854 says: Jun 27, 2014 7:19 AM

    Big Ben will be 32 next season and the Steelers did neither pass or run well last season. Ben almost threw the ball 600 times last season and only averaged 260 passing a game. Steelers fans can think its a shot at their organization but this guy ain’t getting younger and this teams window for success is slowing closing. In a division that has gotten much better over the past 3 seasons, the Steelers may be chasing Cincy for a few years.

  11. ialwayswantedtobeabanker says: Jun 27, 2014 7:53 AM

    With HOF’er Munch coaching up a healthy (knock on wood) OL — this really could be the year the Steelers restore the rushing attack.

    Bell was quite strong last year once his health returned, and the Steelers went 6-2 down the stretch. And Blount averaged 5.0 yards per carry last season. Archer is intriguing as well — and is a wild card in the situation.

    We also finally get a fully healthy Heath Miller back — who is, by the account of many, the best blocking TE in the league.

    And just as the run sets up the play-action pass — the passing attack also sets up the run, and I really dig our WRs (Antonio, Wheat, Lance, Martavis, Justin, not sure if the speedy Heyward-Bey will stick due to the depth of this group).

    Unless Pittsburgh suffers key injuries (e.g., Ben), we should expect Steeltown to rock a strong 2014 season.

  12. clashpoint says: Jun 27, 2014 7:59 AM

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again:
    If your team has good running backs, maybe your offense can run the ball. If your team has a good quarterback and receivers, maybe you can throw the ball. If you have a bad offensive line, you won’t be doing either.

    It might be a passing league, but some things never change, and football games are usually won in the trenches. The Steelers line has had a high draft choice pedigree recently but not high production, and in my humble opinion that clown they hired to coach the offensive line last year screwed up a lot of the lineman’s progress. I’ve already forgot his name on purpose. He was supposed to be more of a scheme guy than a skills teacher when they hired him but Mike Pouncey’s knee says he even stank at that.

    Well, I’m optimistic the hiring of Mike Munchak will improve every lineman in quality and their cohesiveness of play on the field. Given his own pedigree and production over the years as an offensive line coach – and as a skills teacher – I think the Steelers are going to improve quite a bit on offense this year. Go Steelers!

  13. steelerdynasty2010 says: Jun 27, 2014 8:02 AM

    definitely looking for some improvement from the offense. you can dress it up however you like, its going to come down to the red zone. we have to stop leaning on fgs in those situations and settling for a score instead of trying to be aggressive and get into the endzone.
    what i dont understand is why at this point Haley doesnt just relegate himself to chief offensive advisor to the qb. he and ben should sit down each week and craft a gameplan, and just let ben go no huddle based on the gameplan they made together.

  14. steelerben says: Jun 27, 2014 8:26 AM

    This year there are legitimate threats in the backfield, a full strength Heath Miller and a wide receiving corp with a lot of potential. For the playaction to work, that offensive line is going to have to start living up to it’s draft pedigree.

  15. enoughofthatalready says: Jun 27, 2014 9:25 AM

    If you look back at the first 10 games of last season, the reason they did not use play-action is because every time they did, Ben would look up and have 2 or 3 defenders in his face. The OL improved ten-fold over the remaining 6 games but the hurry-up took precedent over play-action. Better OL play and a better running game will help, but the receivers also need to get some separation as well.

  16. thegenoatkinsdiet says: Jun 27, 2014 10:03 AM

    Can’t hurt to try. It’s not like it could go much worse.

  17. crownofthehelmet says: Jun 27, 2014 10:51 AM

    Last year’s offense the back half of the season was as good as any in the league. It’s now improved, and while Ben is technically a year older, he had to have felt much better physically after last season than he has in any recent season. Staying upright will do that for you.

    I expect a great season, but if we fall short of expectations, it’ll be because our D-line + D-backs play was lacking.

    I’m definitely excited about the 6-0 division record we’ll roll with this year.

  18. steelcurtainn says: Jun 27, 2014 1:01 PM

    Play action will help Big Bens game now that you have B&B boys running the ball. The steelers offense is going to roll up some points this year. The Bungles and Ratbirds defenses might as well not show up.

  19. bobzilla1001 says: Jun 27, 2014 3:03 PM

    WARNING: BEN BASHING ALERT.
    The reason the Steelers’ offense was better the second half of last season was because Roethlisberger committed far fewer turnovers. Plus, the defense and special teams chipped in with four TDs.
    I still believe compiling an 8-8 record against a schedule that included the Titans, Texans, Jets, Vikings, Raiders, Bills, Lions, and the Browns (twice) was embarrassing. There’s 7 games in that cluster that were against teams that fired their coaches. The Steelers lost to those fired coaches four times. Thank god for the Browns.

  20. Nofoolnodrool says: Jun 27, 2014 4:19 PM

    I still believe compiling an 8-8 record against a schedule that included the Titans, Texans, Jets, Vikings, Raiders, Bills, Lions, and the Browns (twice) was embarrassing. There’s 7 games in that cluster that were against teams that fired their coaches. The Steelers lost to those fired coaches four times. Thank god for the Browns.

    So your suggestion on the schedule is to go down to your local Schedules Are Us and pick out a tougher one …right? Of course the Steelers picked last years….oh wait they played only the ones scheduled by the league. What a useless comment about a schedule you have no control about unless your intent is to negative and to see your name on a header.. Pathetic egomaniac.

  21. steelcurtainn says: Jun 27, 2014 5:20 PM

    WARNING: BEN BASHING ALERT.

    You don’t need to alert us with your Ben Bashing alerts. We all already know its coming. As Nofool stated, the steelers don’t set up the schedules. They play the teams scheduled by the NFL. Who do you expect the steelers to play Brady Bunch and the Manning boys every week to be legit contenders?

  22. ampatsisahypocrite says: Jun 28, 2014 12:31 AM

    Antwaan Randle-El, with Ben: 23 starts, 184 receptions, 2,265 yards and 7 TDs. Without Ben: 48 starts, 186 catches, 2,202 yards and 8 TDs.

    Santonio Holmes, with Ben: 48 starts, 235 receptions, 3,835 yards, and 20 touchdowns. Without Ben: 41 starts, 146 receptions, 2,128 yards, and 16 touchdowns.

    Nate Washington, with Ben: rising star. Nate Washington, without Ben: Nate who?

    And need I even get into Mike Wallace?

    The numbers say what a stud QB Ben is. The bashers say… nothing, as usual.

  23. stillers213 says: Jun 28, 2014 10:44 AM

    “The reason the Steelers’ offense was better the second half of last season was because Roethlisberger committed far fewer turnovers. Plus, the defense and special teams chipped in with four TDs.”

    And why did he commit fewer turnovers?……
    because he was upright more in the 2nd half which goes right back to crown’s point! What exactly is yours?

  24. bmoreballbuster says: Jun 29, 2014 2:58 AM

    RAVENS look to increase SACK-ACTION on Stoolers passing attack!
    GO RAVENS!

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