Offseason Playbook: Steelers

A look at Pittsburgh's philosophy, team needs and a key free-agent move

Originally Published: March 5, 2013
By Gary Horton and Field Yates | ESPN Insider
Mike WallaceAP Photo/J.D. CavrichIf Mike Wallace leaves as a free agent, how will the Pittsburgh Steelers replace him?

In a new offseason series, Insider takes an in-depth look at NFL teams before free agency begins March 12. What is each team's philosophy on offense and defense, biggest needs and one player who could make for an ideal signing in free agency?

Team philosophies

Offense -- Todd Haley's stint as coordinator for this usually productive offense has not been without its issues. This was supposed to be a physical run offense in 2012, but injuries and inconsistent play hurt the ground game. It is mostly a man blocking concept with multiple backs trying to wear down the defense and control the clock, and they will run the ball out of multi-receiver sets and spread formations versus sub-package defenses. In the passing game, the Steelers went to more short passes to not only protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from too many hits on seven-step drops, but also to give their speed receivers a chance for quality yards after the catch. This group has vertical receiving skills and Big Ben throws a nice deep ball, so look for occasional big shots, often off of play-action. They also like to use the quarterback pump fake and double moves by the receivers. Look for more no-huddle by Big Ben, as he likes the freedom of calling his own plays. The Steelers will use a lot of three-wide receiver sets and bunch formations.

Gary Horton spent 10 years in the NFL as a scout and another 10 years at the college level as an assistant coach and recruiter. He is the founder and most seasoned member of the Scouts Inc. staff, and his extensive experience at all levels of football make him an excellent talent evaluator.
Field Yates has previous experience interning with the New England Patriots on both their coaching and scouting staffs. A graduate of Wesleyan University (CT), he is a regular contributor to ESPN Boston's Patriots coverage and ESPN Insider.