Offensive Woes

Discussion in 'Pittsburgh Steelers' started by beachbum, Oct 12, 2017.

  1. beachbum M.V.P. Steelers

    I did some film work the last couple of days. I watched every offensive snap and paid close attention to red zone and 3rd downs. For a guy that has seen Ben play poorly over the last few years it was even more eye-opening than I had feared. Not only was his decision making as poor as I've ever seen but his arm strength has really worried me ever since the Ravens game.

    I went to the game in Baltimore as I try to do each year and aside from the abnormal amount of Steelers fans at the game (likely a byproduct of the Ravens taking a knee in London) the most alarming thing I saw was what a lack of velocity on the football coming out of Ben's hand. On several throws the ball appeared to float and there was a noticeable lack of zip on the football. My immediate thought was maybe he was just going through one of those dead arm periods that I've read a lot of QBs go through and maybe that's it but I saw more of it watching the Jags game.

    Anyway... I watched a lot but the process of recording it, converting it to a GIF and then uploading the GIF to a site that will allow me to share it is really time consuming so I only have a couple of examples to show today. The first example was literally the second play of the game. Ben had just gone deep to AB and it's now 2nd and 10 at the 23 yard line.


    Above is the route combinations. This is right before pre-snap and it's a pretty simple read for Ben. He has the look he wants. All he has to do is read the safeties. Juju and McDonald are both running vertical routes so he only has to read the ILB and two safeties. If the safety close to the LOS doesn't drop the deep safety can't be in two places. If he drops he'll have the underneath throw to Jesse James. A rookie QB could read this. I'll let the GIF play (I figured out how to do slow mo which helps).


    Pretty easy to see above that Ben has multiple options here. The safety in the box takes away the underneath route and the deep safety shades towards McDonald. All alone on a great post route is JuJu for a TD. McDonald is also open but for some reason Ben tries a pump fake which throws off his motion and results in a duck that gets batted down by the underneath LB.

    Bottom line... Haley dials up a perfect play with multiple options that should be a TD and Ben can't execute which can be explained even furthere when you look at the view from behind...


    Just like the play last week that AB received all the criticism for (somewhat justified) Ben doesn't even look at one side of the field. He has two guys running vertical routes against a single high safety and he doesn't even read it. When I read what he said last week in his defense about reading the one side of the field I thought to myself how many other QBs were chuckling to themselves. If I have time I'll make a GIF of the play and show Weddle right on the has marks (not really on one side) and how easily he could have seen AB if he was looking but to get back to this play. Ben has determined pre-snap he's going to McDonald, tries some unneccessary nonsensical pump fake and then delivers a retarded pass. Do you now easily he could have simply glanced to his left and hit JuJu on the post? How different is this game if it's 7-0 Steelers after two plays.

    And then later in this drive he does a nice job of stepping up in the pocket on 3rd down but air mails the ball over Bryants head. Results = FG. Results = fans questioning Haley's play-calling. Results = fans saying Tomlin can't get his team prepared. Results = Beach want to go with Josh Dobbs (yes I realize he's 3rd string).
  2. beachbum M.V.P. Steelers

    Next play is the 3rd and 2 in the 3rd quarter with a chance for the Steelers to go up 13-7. Haley calls trips-right with AB on the opposite side by himself. But that's not the play they ran because of Ben. I GIF'd the play in two parts because of size limitations but below is Ben changing the play...


    You can see him bring Jesse in tight to the formation to help in protection (Max protect) and he sends Bell out wide to try and effect the safety. He already had Rosie Nix for protection so now he's taken away his best red zone target (Jesse) and made him the 7th blocker on a 4-man pass rush. And then he motions to AB something only he and AB can know. The results? AB runs a double move from the 2yd line. Yes, you read that correctly. A double move in a 12 yard window. Has anyone ever heard of that?

    Nevertheless, all is not lost because JuJu is running a drag near the back of the end zone. When the double move fails he can come back and read the middle of the field and if JuJu is covered he can snap his head around and see if Leveon is open. He has max protect (he created it) so there is no need to rush this throw. Even in the event he's sacked they are still kicking a chip shot FG. Let's watch the play...


    Well I guess we can throw all that out the window when Ben is our QB. AB is clearly not open, doesn't have enough room even if he somehow pops open and the idea that you are down to your last chance to score before you have to kick a FG doesn't register to the Big Dummy. Because he just throws it anyway, almost gets it picked off and JuJu is running with three yards of separation in the end zone. Ben could hit JuJu 9 out of 10 times on that play and he doesn't even look at him.

    And one correction on my thoughts earlier... Bell isn't an option becuase Bell barely runs a route. You think he is conditioned to understand what Ben is doing on that play? Results = FG. Results = fans questioning Haley's play-calling. Results = fans saying Tomlin can't get his team prepared. Results = Beach want to go with Josh Dobbs (yes I realize he's 3rd string).
  3. ravens_R_#1 M.V.P. Ravens

    This is pretty good stuff. My only question is the actual possibility of hitting Juju on that last gif. The linebackers only drift to their right because Ben seems to be eyeing Brown the entire play. If he looks down the center at Juju, they likely don't move and at least 1 is directly in the passing lane. The audible itself ended this play. If Bell wasn't really going to run a route, that leaves a lot of defenders for two guys.

    But man, Juju is wide open on that first one
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  4. firehalo M.V.P. Penguins Steelers

    Ben could keep looking at AB to keep everyone mostly in check where they are and then "float" one over the LB to JuJu. As Beach said, Ben had a lot of time. Ben and his "AB tunnel-vision" is absolutely maddening.

    Good stuff. Love these breakdowns.
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  5. beachbum M.V.P. Steelers

    Yeah that's an easy NFL throw right over the LBs head leading him to the back of the end zone. Juju is 6'2" and has hops.
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  6. manosteel9423 Franchise Player Steelers

  7. steelersking Franchise Player Steelers

    I know nobody will ever confuse Ben with Peyton Manning, but has this been throughout his entire career and he just had a good enough arm to mask it? The last 2-3 have been brutal at times. God, Juju was so open on that first one, and there is a window for the second one. That was an idiotic route that Ben audibled to that close to the end zone. I've seen similar routes work from the 5-10 yard line, but if the corner doesn't bite then it has no chance. On top of that, Nix ended up on air when Ben took James out of the route, although that would have left Nix 1 on 1 with I think Calais Campbell. And there were 2 LBs that could've covered James, but a jump ball likely would've favored the 6'8" James. Ben has been frustrating this year. He can still be effective, but he needs to drop the rookie act he has going on.
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  8. beachbum M.V.P. Steelers

    One thing I've been wondering about since the Bears game is Ben's arm on out routes. I noticed on several throws the DBs were able to get a hand in front of the ball and the announcers kept praising their coverage ability but to me at least on the outside the ball appeared late. Then against the Vikings one was almost picked off. I didn't see any of those throws against the Ravens and I don't recall any against the Jags. I saw guys open on those routes, once was AB on a 3rd and 8 and then Martavis on a 3rd and 10 (I believe) and both times Ben threw short of the sticks in the middle of the field. Has he lost confidence in his ability to throw that route? It's something I'm worried about and it makes me wonder when both the opponent and our tight end talk about anticipating crossing routes if they've picked up on Ben's inability or reluctance to throw the ball to the outside.
  9. mc Franchise Player Steelers

    Thanks Beach...damning evidence indeed. I always wonder what the initial play call was vs what we get to see after audibles.

    I recall one really nice completion on an out pattern against the Jags. I believe it was 3rd and 10 during their second drive of the second half. They converted and then took a sack rather than running the football
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  10. techheart Franchise Player Steelers

    Good thread. Love the gifs. Good dialogue. One thing: I always try to imagine how quick a defender could close on an open guy and break up the play or make a tackle, and I wonder if that factors into Ben’s thinking.

    Ben got his throwing arm ripped (I think in the Ravens game when he inexplicably held the ball too long again) and I’ve been wondering if the seeming lack of zip has something to do with that. It didn’t seem to be a problem before that.
  11. beachbum M.V.P. Steelers

    I went back and looked again specifically for those out routes. I never saw a completed one. Closest thing I saw was about a 12 yard come back route up the sideline to AB. That might be the one you're thinking of. Similar but not quite the same as the receiver is tasked with coming back to the ball. Not as much as risk. I saw one attempted to JuJu that was a little late getting there. DB appeared to maybe get a hand in but it's possible it was also just a drop. To be fair JuJu didn't run the best route. Kinda rounded it off and the CB read it pretty well and broke on it.
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  12. beachbum M.V.P. Steelers

    Here's the JuJu out...

  13. beachbum M.V.P. Steelers

    Went back to the other FG and wanted to see if I missed anything. Ben totally missed Bryant on a crossing route but in his defense the play started with .11 seconds on the clock and no timeouts. So there is definitely some risk in throwing it short. It's worth showing it though becuase it's the kind of play Ben would miss regardless of game situation. With the benefit of hindsight MB probably scores here with only one man to beat...

  14. beachbum M.V.P. Steelers

    Last one for tonight and only after I uploaded twice did I realize I didn't record in Slo Mo so sorry for the speed of the GIF. This is one of the out routes that caught my attention when watching the film. It's 3rd and 7 in the 1st quarter, pretty sure one series after AB and Ben hooked up for the 47 yard bomb and ABs man is playing 5 yards off the ball. Roethlisberger from 3-4 years ago makes this play 9 out of 10 times. Ten yard out and AB is soooooo open. Ben doesn't give him the time of day. You gotta take this easy 1st down IMO...

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  15. beachbum M.V.P. Steelers

    As promised here is the famous AB rant. The key to this play for me is that it is 3rd and 4. For years Ben was known and often criticized for holding on to the football until he found an open guy. It led to some hits but also to moving the chains and making big plays. Well this play doesn't even fall into that category in my opinion. All this play requires is a subtle movement in the pocket that is pretty much a must if you're going to play QB in the NFL. And it's 3rd and short for christ's sake!

    I just don't know what is going through Ben's head sometimes. What could be more important than looking over the entire field, buying a little time and finding an open guy? Is it is health? Is he playing scared?


    Here it is pre-snap. Pretty much the look you want if you know AB is running essentially an In-and-up (not sure what else to call that route). Weddle does drop a little on the snap (left side) but he's in no position to cover the route as designed. He got the protection he needed. There are dozen of QBs in the NFL that make this play. There's a good chance there are two on the Steelers roster that make this play. Very frustrating.

  16. MaineofSteel Home Town Favorite Steelers

    So, I’d like to throw my 2 cents in if I may on Ben’s problems with throwing. His mechanics are off. I have 15 seasons of baseball under my belt in various strata of competition and am fairly knowledgeable of throwing mechanics. My son who played 10 years, says to me, during the Bears game (he’s a Bears fan from our family’s 12 years in Chicago) that Ben is “aiming” the ball, not throwing it. Pushing, or aiming the ball is contrary to all good things happening when letting go of the ball. You lose accuracy, velocity and, if left undiagnosed by your coaches, confidence in your ability to complete a good throwing motion. This kind of “throwing” is most easily recognized by three things… 1st and foremost from the base of the throw, your legs, there is no forward motion or “leaning in to” the throw… you can call it flat footed. 2nd, the elbow of the throwing arm leads the throw, not the wrist and finally the wrist does not snap threw the throw which is the final motion that creates velocity and accuracy if trusted to do so. I would build that trust with my little league kids by having them stand 5’ from a chain link fence and “throw” in to it for 10 or so minutes, stressing all the mechanics from leaning in to wrist over, past and thew the elbow and hard snapping follow through many times over the preseason to get them used to being able to trust their bodies to throw, as a physically second nature type motion not aim the ball.

    Look at Ben’s motion … he’s far from the gunslinger he wants to be thought of. He stands flat footed without a forward leaning motion to his throws. He leads with the elbow more often than not, highly indicating a pushing or aiming delivery and his follow though is weak, meaning there is no snap to it, only an obligatory follow though as must happen just because of the requirement of a throwing motion.

    It appears he’s lost confidence in his ability to power through the complete motion and this is why he’s been both long and short on his mid and deep range throws and IMO also why he has shied away from the out he used to be so good at. Really, one of the few who could confidently throw that pass consistantly on point. He doesn’t do this at all times, he just seems to lapse in to it which is why we see some throws like we’re used to. If he doesn’t come out of this, “dead arm periods” the beach speaks of, will be his undoing and retirement will not just be in his head but also, in his head, a reason for not coming back. “I just don’t have it any more” will become, if it hasn’t already, a reality.

    I have said bring on Josh Dobbs for a while now and mean it. He needs, IMO, time on the ball field to catch up to the NFL’s elite defenses. Every day he misses is another day we will lag behind competition in games. I say all this, honestly believing he has what it takes to be a starting QB because of what’s between his ears even more so than an already exemplary arm and leg physical skill set. This kid never had a QB coach in a big time college environment and still was good enough to make it in to the NFL. His deep ball looks to be as good as Flacco’s and once he gets the short and mid-range in order I think he’s the real deal.

    I also said and hope for this season, that Ben pulls his head out of his ass and plays well enough to win a SB, retire with dignity and leave the stage without regret. Bring on the Josh Dobbs era, sooner than later!

    and finally, beach, since the CBS days you have been our exemplary poster in all things both gif and strategy related Steeler football I can't believe any other fan base gets this kind of attention and I want to thank you for all your contributions. We simply get the best from you and it's well appreciated.
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  17. mc Franchise Player Steelers

    Great post MoS! I was also thinking about Ben's poor throwing mechanics and it calls into question the effectiveness of Randy Fichtner.

    No Dobbs for me, Ben will bounce back and play well enough for the Steelers to win on Sunday.
    beachbum likes this.
  18. beachbum M.V.P. Steelers

    Great post. I don't have your background but there have been times I thought he was aiming it.
  19. manosteel9423 Franchise Player Steelers

    Thanks for that MoS! I will watch for those warning signs you pointed out. Hopefully its something he can correct.
    beachbum likes this.
  20. gidion72 M.V.P. Steelers

    Thanks Mos & Beach for this.
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