On the Steelers using bunch formations

September, 6, 2013
9/06/13
3:38
PM ET
NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- As the Pittsburgh Steelers break their huddle Sunday at Heinz Field, they’ll often deploy pass targets in a bunch formation.

The Tennessee Titans defensive backs will have to sort through who’s following whom and how.

McCourty
McCourty
The bunch is a big part of what Pittsburgh likes to do.

“We run quite a bit out of there,” quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said. “We’ve always liked that package, because it feels like it creates issues. You can throw out of it. You can run out of it. You can run inside, outside. It puts little corners sometimes in tough positions when you’ve got big guys pulling from the inside on sweep plays.”

Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said bunching receivers to make defenses sort through a crowd is a global thing in football.

The Titans' top cornerback, Jason McCourty, said it can be a bit of a challenge to sort through, but not long after the snap, things look the same as out of non-bunched formations.

“Just figuring out what they like to do out of it, that’s the toughest thing,” McCourty said. “With the Steelers, they are running out of it and passing out of it. So you have to find out what route combinations they like, what type of releases to try to figure out what’s the best way to play it. Because there are different ways we play the bunch, and it depends on whether it’s man (coverage) or zone.

“A lot goes into it. But at the end of the day, once they disperse, they’re getting into what a normal set would be. Somebody is going to be breaking out to get wide. Someone is going to go in tight. It’s just not letting it confuse you.”

The Titans are unlikely to use bunch formations as often as the Steelers do.

Receiver Kendall Wright said his early looks at the game plan didn’t have a lot, and that camp installation didn’t feature that much of it.

According to offensive coordinator Dowell Loggains, using bunch alignments can also help a defense mask its intentions, which isn't advantageous for a young quarterback like Jake Locker.

“It’s something we’ve done, it’s something we used in preseason, so it’s always something we could have available,” Loggains said. “There is a lot of stuff, you don’t know how it’s going to play out sometimes. Sometimes it’s better to get in static formations and let Jake see what’s going on instead of bunching people up and letting (the Steelers) disguise.”

Paul Kuharsky | email

ESPN Tennessee Titans reporter

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