- Matt Williamson, ESPN.com
The Steelers lost Antwaan Randle El in free agency and Ben Roethlisberger was in a serious motorcycle accident in the offseason, but Pittsburgh's passing game could still be better this year than it was in Roethlisberger's first two seasons in the league.
As Roethlisberger matures, there should be new wrinkles and a higher percentage of pass plays called by offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, but they are not going to get carried away. As long as Bill Cowher's chin is protruding, his teams will run the football to set up the pass, never the other way around. They still are the Steelers.
Pittsburgh's running game traditionally draws extra defenders near the line of scrimmage and takes pressure off its receiving weapons. Cowher and Whisenhunt will exploit this with play-action, trick plays and an expanded deep passing game. The Steelers haven't gone deep often, but Roethlisberger is one of the very best deep passers in the league and his success rate is very strong. This should be a more frequent play call for the Steelers in 2006, especially with the addition of first-round pick Santonio Holmes.
The Steelers won't change their run-first philosophy, but expect them to take full advantage of Ben Roethlisberger's growing skills.