The Steelers didn’t know what hit them in Foxboro on Sunday. Literally.
“The first drive hit us by surprise,” linebacker Bud Dupree said Monday, via Ray Fittipaldo of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “They came out firing and they caught us off guard. We were checking and they were checking at the same time. Hats off to that team. They had a great preparation.”
Dupree added that the Steelers were not expecting to see the no-huddle offense as much as they did.
“We didn’t really anticipate it like that,” Dupree said. “It was more in their approach to the no huddle, the checks they made right away. It was a great job by Tom Brady.”
Or it was not a great job of planning, preparation, and execution by the Pittsburgh defense.
As of last month, questions were being asked about New England’s reduced use of the no-huddle offense. Then came a Monday night game against the Ravens, during which the Patriots extensively employed a no-huddle approach to manhandle Pittsburgh’s top rival.
Regardless of whether the Steelers did or didn’t anticipate it, they failed to adapt to the circumstances. Coach Mike Tomlin admitted that it happened to the offense after the injury to Le’Veon Bell; it apparently also happened to the defense.
While Dupree surely didn’t intend to point a finger at coaching, his explanation points a finger generally toward a place where coaching is one of the reasons for the lack of preparation for a no-huddle attack and for the inability to adjust quickly on the fly to the tactics the Patriots were employing. Only so much of that failure can be blamed on execution; at some point, the quality of the coaching is called into question.