AFC North: Mike Tomlin. Ben Roethlisberger

Big Ben not wild about Wildcat attack

October, 22, 2013
10/22/13
5:00
PM ET
PITTSBURGH -- Mike Tomlin remains open -- at least publicly -- to keeping the Wildcat in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offensive repertoire.

But Ben Roethlisberger sounds like he wouldn’t mind if the Steelers shelved the gimmick out of which they ran four plays in their 19-16 win against the Baltimore Ravens.

[+] EnlargeLe'Veon Bell
Jason Bridge/USA TODAY SportsSteelers RB Le'Veon Bell takes a direct snap against the Ravens during the second half at Heinz Field.
“I don’t like to go over and just be split out wide and take a chance that a (defensive back) is going to come up,” Roethlisberger told 93.7 The Fan Tuesday during his weekly radio show. “I don’t think we’ll see a lot of it.”

Tomlin is keeping his options open with the Wildcat if only to keep the Oakland Raiders guessing. Another reason he isn’t ready to ditch the attack: it is relatively easy to install during game preparations.

Tomlin said the three runs that Le'Veon Bell made after taking a direct snap from center and his hand-off to wideout Antonio Brown are in the Steelers’ base offense.

“The play themselves aren’t new. The window dressing is,” Tomlin said. “It doesn’t require a bunch of work from a practice standpoint in that regard. Some of the formations and pre-snap movements is walk-through, classroom-type work so it’s not as intensive of an endeavor as it appears to be.”

Roethlisberger, for his part, isn’t just leery about getting leveled by an opposing defensive back when the Steelers are in the Wildcat. He also has concerns about Bell taking direct snaps even though the rookie running back handled all of his ball exchanges flawlessly against the Ravens.

"To take a shotgun snap, even as a quarterback, there’s a chance of fumbles and things happening and we do it all the time,” Roethlisberger said. “So I think your chances of something bad happening goes up when you do that Wildcat stuff because it’s just unnatural, things that (running backs) are just not used to doing. It makes you nervous but it did good things for us.”

Roethlisberger is considerably more excited about the shovel pass, which the Steelers installed last week and resulted in their only touchdown against the Ravens.

How that play evolved showed how much more in sync Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley are in their second season together.

Roethlisberger said he suggested to quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner last Wednesday that the Steelers bring back the shovel pass, which had also been retired after Hines Ward called it a career.

Fichtner told him it was already in the game plan, and Roethlisberger suggested the Steelers make tight end Heath Miller the recipient of the pass instead of a wide receiver.

“It was kind of crazy that we were all on the same page and we just tweaked it and got Heath to do it,” Roethlisberger said. “It worked out good because we can run some other plays off that formation.”

The collaboration on the play, Roethlisberger said, is a marker of how far he and Haley have come in their oft-analyzed working relationship.

“What’s different this year is the ability and willingness to be open to change. For all of us,” Roethlisberger said. “If Randy or I go to Todd and say 'I think we should tweak this or change this' he’s open to changing it, and same thing when he comes to me and say, ‘Hey Ben on this play let’s do it like this.'"

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