The Steelers have a new offense. But they have an old quarterback. With an old tell.
During the three drives led by Ben Roethlisberger on Saturday night against the Lions, the Steelers lined up in shotgun formation 11 of 16 times. Twice, they ran. Nine times, they threw.
Roethlisberger still has a very different pre-snap posture depending on whether it’s a run or a pass. When it’s a pass, his left heel comes off the ground in the second or so before the snap. When it’s a run, his feet stay on the ground.
Twice, it was obvious that the Steelers would pass the ball because Roethlisberger had no tailback to his left or right.
It’s not just the lifting of the left heel before the snap. Roethlisberger’s entire demeanor is different (not obviously, but it’s there) when the shotgun snap will result in him surrendering the ball and ending his role in the play and when he’ll be receiving the snap and then getting to work. He moves differently, looks different before the snap, depending on whether it’s going to be a run or a pass.
Last month, evidence emerged of the longstanding tell from Roethlisberger when in shotgun formation. He should stand the same way prior to a run or a pass, in order to avoid giving any defenders who are paying attention a chance to have a split-second of advance preparation for the play to come.
It’s unknown whether opposing defenses previously were aware of the tell. They are now. It’s all the more reason for the Steelers to coach that specific tendency out of their quarterback’s game before Week One at Buffalo.