View Full Version : Steelers FINALLY using the tight ends in the passing game

10-27-2007, 05:01 AM

Believe it or not, the check really is in the mail.

After years of lip service and hollow promises about throwing to the tight end, the Steelers actually have delivered on the threat and are throwing the ball to someone other than their wide receivers, especially inside the 20.

"That's something we always talked about the last couple years," backup quarterback Charlie Batch said. "Now, you have the guys and, if you're able to do it, you can play with the defense a little bit. They can't sit back and double team the outside."

When offensive coordinator Bruce Arians said he wanted to use three tight ends shortly after drafting Matt Spaeth on the third round in April, he wasn't just whistling past the red zone.

The Steelers have done more than use three tight ends at the same time in some formations. They have utilized all three tight ends -- Heath Miller, Jerame Tuman and Spaeth -- to catch touchdowns.

Of Ben Roethlisberger's 13 touchdown passes in six games, eight have been caught by tight ends. With the exception of a 22-yard touchdown catch by Miller against the Cleveland Browns, all have come inside the red zone.

It's one of the reasons the Steelers rank fifth in the American Football Conference in red zone percentage (59.1), scoring touchdowns on 13 of 22 trips inside the 20.

"You have big, tall guys and they can all run," Arians said. "Teams have double-teamed our receivers and done a good taking them away and it has opened those guys up."

Sprung them open, is more like it.

Miller, who leads the team with 22 catches, has four touchdowns after catching two in Sunday night's loss in Denver.

Spaeth, who also had a touchdown against the Broncos, has three among his four catches. Tuman, who has missed a couple games with back spasms, has one catch -- a 9-yard touchdown reception.

In every instance but one, each tight end has been wide open in the end zone or easily beat his man in single coverage.

"Sometimes [opposing] teams don't respect the tight end at all and you really don't have to cover them," Batch said. "Here, we have two or three guys who can get open down there. But, when you get down there, it's a matter of getting the right look you see and being on the same page."

"A lot of them have come off our play-action and we've been able to run the ball pretty well," said Tuman, who did not play against the Broncos because of back spasms but is expected to return for tomorrow's 1 p.m. game against the Cincinnati Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium.

"So against linebackers or safeties who bite on the run, it has opened the tight end in the middle of field. That can go back to people aren't used to us using the tight end. Once they focus on the tight end, we have weapons on the outside that will open up."

After six games, receivers Hines Ward, Cedrick Wilson and Nate Washington have combined for only one touchdown catch. Santonio Holmes, who is second on the team with 20 receptions, has four.

But that is the reason Arians, in his first season as coordinator, wanted to use multiple tight ends in the offense and diminish the role of the fullback. When teams take away Holmes or Ward on the outside, Roethlisberger has the option of throwing to the tight end.

If teams start watching the tight end in the middle of the field or the red zone, that will give the wide receivers more single coverage on the outside.

"You have four receivers on the field, two who can block, and the versatility they give you over the fullback is where you gain a huge advantage in the passing game," Arians said. "It's athletic ability. When you have 6-foot-7 guys who are up on the line or in the backfield versus 5-foot-10, 250-pound guys, it's to your advantage."

"We're doing lot of multiple tight end stuff and keeping teams on their toes," said Spaeth, who is 6-foot-7, 270 pounds. "And it works so far."

Just as Arians promised it would.

I wonder how dumb BC feels seeing Miller be such a force week in and week out in the passing game. Wow imagine that, a TE that is actually a something more than a blocker !! Who knew ???? :dunno:

10-27-2007, 11:29 AM

I wonder how dumb BC feels seeing Miller be such a force week in and week out in the passing game. Wow imagine that, a TE that is actually a something more than a blocker !! Who knew ???? :dunno:
That is right!
With the personnel we have at TE , things sure look bright! These are the kind of guys that have been killing us on the other side of the field. Are we evolving? Looks like it, and it is awesome.
In BC's defense( not that one is needed, or wanted) I think Eric Green might have done some irreversable damage to Bills Tight End psyche, with his horrid play.IMO.
I like the Ben To TE connection, big dude to big dude.

10-27-2007, 02:11 PM
If Heath keeps playing like this he could have a legit shot at the pro bowl this year :yesnod:

10-27-2007, 05:03 PM
I too enjoy seeing Heath getting some catches.

10-30-2007, 09:05 AM
Its AMAZING that they are finally utilzing a weapon that has been soooooo under used in the past........ It is great seeing Heath, Spath (sp) and Tuman getting looks and cashing in when they do!!!!!!