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Mike Tomlin talks about defending the no-huddle offense

Let me start this out by saying that I am in no way insinuating anything negative about Mike Tomlin. As a Steeler fan I have the utmost respect for him and what he’s been able to accomplish so far in his young head coaching career. His drafts have been solid and there is a ton of bright, young talent on this roster with more to come I’m sure. Having said that…

During his regular Tuesday press conference, Tomlin was asked about the difficulties that the Steelers had in defending the no-huddle offense that the Broncos used.

Whether or not the Jets will use it, we don’t know yet but after listening to his presser and reading the comments, you might get the idea that he feels the no huddle shouldn’t be a problem to defend? As if it’s just a regular offense in a normal situation. I’m not saying he should necessarily approach that question any differently but there’s a reason that the no-huddle works in the NFL and it’s not something that can be defended easily.

The offense puts you in that situation for a reason, to keep you from substituting and to wear you out. It worked for Ben last week in a similar manner that it worked for Peyton.

It’s not easy to defend and if you get stuck with the wrong personnel grouping or can’t stop the run in the no huddle then you’re in trouble. No excuses but I don’t think it’s as cut and dry as he says it is. I get that he wants his team to be accountable, to win at all costs, etc. and for all we know he’ll practice things differently this week than what he’s leading on to. However even mediocre teams can run the no-huddle effectively at times and score quickly.

How do you prepare the defense to face a no-huddle attack like Denver had?

I’m less concerned about that aspect of it, the fact that they’re no huddle, and I’m more concerned about what transpires after the ball is snapped. The reality is that we didn’t play well enough post-snap. Forget about whether or not they huddle between plays, we’ve got full control over how we play once the ball is snapped and it wasn’t up to snuff in many instances. When you go back and look at the tape, I thought one of the things that made they’re no huddle attack most effective was the fact that they ran the ball successfully on us and they were able to stay on schedule and eliminate a whole bunch of third down opportunities. I think they were five-of-nine in the game, so that lets you know that they were doing the job on first and second down, specifically in the second half. I thought they ran the ball very well, reeling of chunks of seven, nine and so forth and five yard gains, which makes it doubly difficult to deal with a guy the caliber of Manning.

Does defending a no-huddle offense limit the types of defenses you can call and did they change?

It doesn’t really limit us, in terms of personnel packages and what we’re capable of attacking people with. We utilize a variety of personnel packages. Sometimes it mirrored theirs, sometimes it didn’t and that’s always the case with us. It didn’t tax us or limit us in terms of the types of coverages or defenses we could call because, quite frankly, they weren’t in a hurry-up-like fashion. You never felt the pressure of that type of hurry-up. They were in a muddle huddle or no huddle, if you will. Our calls essentially stayed the same in the processes. In terms of administering our calls and getting our calls to the defense, it really remained the same. I think the coach-to-player communications on defense over the last several years have leveled the playing field in that regard. We just didn’t perform as well as I would have liked us to, to be quite honest with you, along the lines of some of the things that you guys are asking with the no-huddle. – Steelers.com

This type of attack can’t be executed as well by every team in the league as it can by guys like Manning, Brees, or Brady, we all know that. Still though, the logic that Tomlin uses seems to me that he’s implying that his entire defensive unit is full of Troy Polamalu’s, Ryan Clark’s, James Harrison’s. While the Steelers defense has a good number of established veterans on it, there are also some young faces in the secondary and inexperienced players at OLB and on the Defensive Line right now. In a perfect world on a perfect team, he is correct in how you approach defending the no huddle. However on the modern day Steelers, there are clear reasons why the standard can’t be upheld by every player on every play.

So take his comments for what they are worth to you, and analyze them how you like. That’s one of the fun things about being a fan. If the Steelers have troubles defending the no-huddle during the rest of the year, you can see why it could happen. I would like to think that it won’t and the defense will be up to the challenge but we’ll have to see. Oh, and for the record, this is not just related the opening game loss this year. You can’t make a judgement on an entire season after one game, but this scenario has been going on the last few years as offenses focus more on the pass and the talent level continues to go up.

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