Thoughts on the Stiller Offense
We went to Baltimore and the offense sputtered and stumbled most of the game. The aggressive run-blitzing and quick defense gave us problems all day. Bettis was bottled up and Stewart was a bit erratic. Never was the pigskin physically thrown further than 19 yards past the line of scrimmage. A few 3d down passes were thrown well short of the sticks. Josh got a sore leg from punting so much. The Steeler defense, facing a weak, inept offense, did fairly good but still was spongy at times. We ended up escaping Baltimore with a narrow win.
Question: Am I describing the '98 contest at Baltimore, or the '99 one??
If the answer is "both", then the follow-on questions are: WHY? And, When are we going to rectify this? And, what has been modified in the past 350-some days (since the last meeting at Baltimore)? And, is this '99 offense supposed to better, or merely equal to, the '98 version?
Maybe some clues can be obtained from Ed Bouchette's PG article today. According to Bocuhette, "One thing they have not done is throw deep, again. They don't have a speed receiver on their team and their statistics reflect that. They average only 9.5 yards a reception, which is lower than last year's subterranean 10.15 yards, second lowest in the NFL. They (the Steelers) have been trying to get the ball quickly on short routes to rookie Troy Edwards in order to let him make a big play with his quickness. Edwards has caught nine passes, tied with Courtney Hawkins for the team lead, but he has been unable to shake free on any of them. He averages 9.2 yards a catch and his long is 19."
Oh, ok. NOW I see it. I guess I was just a step slow on this one.
Let me re-phrase the Bouchette article, for clarification's sake:
1. Edwards --- who by the way is not "allowed" to start because he's a rookie -- is going to be used primarily on short routes because of his good RAC skills, but rarely, if ever, will he be used deep.
2. Our offensive game plan for "big plays", according to this article, is NOT to go deep, but rather to throw short stuff and hope that Edwards can shake and bake for big yardage.
3. Nowhere in the plan is there apparently any room for convincing play-action fakes (not lazy PAP fakes that don't even fool the beer vendor in Level 600), nor DOWNFIELD throws on the run by the QB, nor stop & go's by the WRs. Nowhere in the plan is there room for a 1st down bomb, like the one PSU used late in Saturday's game to complete a 78-yard TD to Chafie Fields and get a come-from-behind win at Miami.
4. This plan should really help our running game against defenses like the Ravens showed us last Sunday. The DBs, seeing that our gameplan is to throw almost nothing but short stuff, can now move even CLOSER to the line of scrimmage for increased run support. And, the DBs, knowing that we only throw short stuff, can now being to "sit and read" on these little slants and hitches, and start ball-hawking and rabidly going after INTs on telegraphed passes thrown by the Western Union Man.
Boy, I sure do have a real confident outlook on the offense now�.
The Still Mill