With the NFL Draft over and done, the play books handed out and Rookie Mini-Camp now behind us, we start to really see the upcoming season take shape. Soon OTAs will be here and we'll get to see the rookies interact with the veterans for the first time. And if you're like me, this can all be just as exciting as looking forward to the actual games. If you're like me, there are two seasons in sports: Football season and Waiting For Football season.
That said, football in shorts, as Mike Tomlin would say, over the weekend brought the football world a semblance of things to come. By way of pics and videos at steelers.com we got to see second-round draft pick Mike Adams at left tackle, last season's practice squad player John Malecki at center, first-round draft pick David DeCastro at right guard and, also from the practice squad, Trevis Turner at right tackle making up part of the first-team offensive line. Two will make the team, including one who'll start opening day, and two have a better chance of making the practice squad again (though, the team is reportedly high on Turner). And they are a part of the unit who'll be responsible for protecting Ben Roethlisberger.
Speaking of the aforementioned play book, Roethlisberger was on WDVE radio last week and, when asked about what Todd Haley is installing, he referred to it as the "Rosetta Stone." Being that Roethlisberger just finished his Bachelor's of Science degree in Education from Miami (Ohio) University, he should be able to study up on it easily enough. (Please tell me you picked up on the sarcasm...)
"I do know some stuff from obviously being in the building and walking by the rooms, sneaking in the rooms by myself and trying to look at things, because you can't meet and talk football. So I walked into the rooms to see what was kind of going on and I thought I picked up a Rosetta Stone book. Yeah I see some stuff and we're going to need to meet this week, trust me, because we've got to figure some stuff out", he said.
Big Ben Roethlisberger was mainly being facetious and he did illicit a jocular reaction. But Tuesday he was on the Rich Eisen podcast and spoke differently about the offense. It seems that the more things change, the more they stay the same.
"In these meetings I've had with coach Haley, he's all about the no-huddle and using our wide-receiver weapons and throwing the ball and stuff like that," Big Ben said on the podcast, which airs on the NFL Network Thursday and can be found in iTunes also. - http://richeisen.nfl.com/2012/05/08/rich-eisen-podcast-ben-roethlisberger-and-larry-fitzgerald/
The Chiefs ran over 100 no-huddle plays in 2011, whereas the Steelers ran around 50. So we'll definitely see a modern-day offense, no "three yards and a cloud of dust" plays for this offense. Which probably isn't good news to many in Steeler Nation who have clamored for more running of the football. After all, the Steelers only ran the ball 32% of the time last season.
Personally, I'd like to see not more necessarily, but more efficient running of the ball. The goal line percentages were up dramatically from previous years, but the red zone and third down efficiency numbers weren't at all. That lends itself directly to the running game. Not necessarily being able to pound forward with the run, but at least to threaten with the run.
With a functioning, even threatening, offensive line and running game they can directly affect those ineffective red zone and third down numbers. In fact they can do so while still running the no-huddle. The implementation of the one does not preclude the use of the other. The low running game percentage stated earlier isn't something Haley wouldn't have noticed.
Haley is known for utilizing the weapons at his disposal and realizes the real strength of the offense is in Big Ben and the wide receivers and tight end he has. Add to that, the offensive line was directly addressed in the draft. Protecting Big Ben is now a priority. Haley would probably want to emphasize a quick release along with the no-huddle in order to further protect him and make the offense flow.
Regardless, Big Ben most likely is very happy with what he's seeing thus far in the offseason. He got a thousand pounds of new beef to protect him and knows he'll definitely get to play with all his toys when the season starts.
The Steelers have now signed four of their draft picks. Alameda Ta'amu, Chris Rainey, Mike Adams and Toney Clemons. Official numbers on Ta'amu show a $433,000 signing bonus and a $181,000 signing bonus for Rainey. The rest of the number are here: http://t.co/4WlgGh8o
All I have for the other two are total numbers: Mike Adams is about $3.5 million or so, while the contract for Toney Clemons is around $2.15 million.