By Dale Grdnic
PITTSBURGH — When the Pittsburgh Steelers were struggling on offense during the second half against the Jacksonville Jaguars this past week, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger asked offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to go to the no-huddle attack.
Arians politely declined.
“In the second half, we talked about it,” Arians said. “He wanted to go, and I didn’t. I didn’t believe it was time to speed the game up. We just needed to make more first downs in that second half.”
Not surprisingly, Roethlisberger has lobbied Arians several times each game, but “we haven’t done enough no-huddle,” the quarterback said. “I feel that we can change it up, and I feel that it can be a weapon for us. We just haven’t had a chance to get into it much just yet. … I love doing it.
“I feel like we’ve got so many weapons, and we’ve done it everywhere,” Roethlisberger added. “To me, I’d like to do it every game regardless of how we’re doing. But, traditionally, we’ve done it when we’ve struggled on offense. … We go to it when things aren’t clicking on offense.
“It’s an advantage to me, because I’m calling the plays and can see what the defense is. When a play is called from the sideline, it’s called off tendencies. We have good coordinators, so they know tendencies, but … it can be a rhythm thing as well. (And) we’re winning the games, so we can’t complain too much.”
Arians noted that an advantage for the offense is that the no-huddle can cause communication problems for a defense.
“As long as there are no communication problems for you,” Arians added. “That’s the big thing, and there have been a lot of interchanging pieces (on offense). So, we’re not as coherent as I’d like to be with all 11 guys to run a lot of it, but we’re capable of running it. And it may become a major force like it has in the past. So, we’ll see.
“I think (the young wideouts) are fine. It’s more the young linemen and all the different guys we’ve had up front. All you need is one missed code word, and that can lead to a big hit on your quarterback. So, it’s something that we talk about every week. (Ben) comes to me 2-3 times a game, and I tell him ‘maybe next series.’ (But) we usually have a plan for it.”
Arians was asked who doesn’t like the no huddle, and he responded that everybody likes it. So, what’s the problem?
“There’s a time and place for everything,” Arians said. “I have all the trust in the world with Ben calling the plays. It’s the other 10 guys in the huddle functioning properly at that speed, because Ben can play a whole lot faster than the other guys. And when I see the other guys playing as fast as he does during no-huddle, then I think we’ll be good to go.”
It looks like the Steelers will be without nose tackle Casey Hampton (shoulder), linebacker James Harrison (eye), nose tackle Chris Hoke (neck), offensive guard Doug Legursky (toe) and defensive end Aaron Smith (foot) again this week.
Running back Rashard Mendenhall (knee), center Maurkice Pouncey (elbow), wideout Mike Wallace (hamstring) and linebacker Jason Worilds (quad) were all limited in practice Thursday, but they are expected to practice Friday and play against the Arizona Cardinals Sunday at 4:05 p.m. at the University of Phoenix Stadium in Glendale, Ariz.