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    Steelers embrace luxury of 3 tight ends

    The first time the Steelers tried three tight ends in a non-traditional situation (non-short yardage) a week ago Saturday in minicamp, Jerame Tuman, Jon Dekker and Cody Boyd collided on the way to the line of scrimmage.
    Let the record show the Steelers' new three tight ends approach was born of humble beginnings.
    But let it also show that offensive coordinator Bruce Arians' the-more-the-merrier approach to tight end deployment isn't necessarily a sign of the apocalypse.
    "I have to laugh because everybody thinks if we put two tight ends or three tight ends in there, we're throwing the ball to 'em," Arians said. "Hell, they're in there to block. We'll throw it to 'em if they're open. We are blessed with some cats that can run and catch the football."
    And catch it they shall.
    Yet, as you continue to recoil in horror while wondering if the scouting department and coaching staff were collectively "Lost In Spaeth" when they drafted a tight end from Minnesota in the third round, understand that the idea is to play three tight ends at a time no more than 15 percent of the time.
    Also understand that it's a formation Arians can and has run out of effectively.
    "My philosophy, if there's a game that states it, it was when we played the Steelers in the playoffs when I was coordinating in Cleveland," Arians said.
    That would be the oft-cited wild-card game on Jan. 5, 2003, at Heinz Field.
    The underdog Browns threw it all over the field and achieved big leads before finally succumbing, 36-33.
    Kelly Holcomb passed for 429 yards, but a drop by Dennis Northcutt with about 2 1/2 minutes remaining ultimately helped Cleveland come undone.
    "We knew it was going to be tough sledding, running the football against that defense," Arians said. "But we felt like we could create some mismatches in the passing game. And our backup quarterback threw for 400-and-some (yards).
    "At the end of that game, we had a three-tight end formation out there. And we busted a run for about 20 yards. We ran the same play again and had a mental error, or we would have busted it for 20 again. The game would have been over, and Northcutt wouldn't have had to drop that pass on third down."
    So there you have it.
    The idea is to create mismatches more than it is to push the creative limits of tight end involvement.
    In January 2003, "We felt our fourth receiver (Northcutt) was better than Pittsburgh's fourth cornerback (Hank Poteat)," Arians said.
    In fall 2007, Arians might ask himself, "Is Heath Miller better on this linebacker than, say, our third receiver is on their nickel back?"
    Should Matt Spaeth help create mismatches for Miller or for himself, the pick will ultimately be lauded rather than ridiculed.
    "The best feeling in the world is when you just pound it 30 times and the game's over and you win," Arians said. "That's the easy way. But you gotta prepare for the hard way, too."
    That's where all the tight ends may yet justify their presence.
    If they can get 'em into formation without bumping into one another, the Steelers just might be onto something.
    I like the 3-TE sets but hopfully it doesn't fall apart like it did for Cleveland. I'm still skeptical of Arians and his Brotherhood to put faith in his philosophy
    "It is hard to wait around for something that you know may never happen;but it's even harder to let go when it's everything you want"
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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    We've got the talent at TE to pull this scheme off, but it's not going to be easy at all. We're a team that used to using 2 TE sets here and there to pound the ball but we're talking a big step here with multiple formations for blocking and passing that involves these extra guys. I'll take a lot of work and there's bound to be some growing pains but if we stick with it we'll have the chance to be something special on offense.

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    SA's #1 Pirates Fan Tetris Champion Black@Gold Forever32's Avatar
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    Ok its not like these guys will be trying to split the atom.lol Yes there will be growing pains learning these new formations and plays. But thats what training camp is for. I think they will be alright.

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    Assuming we get the kinks worked out in training camp then yes we'll be fine but you know when you're talking about a lot of new formations and nuances in an offense you're inevitably going to have some screwups during the regular season. Fortunately for us we're not learning a whole new offense like most teams do when they get a new coach so we have that going for us too.

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    SA's #1 Pirates Fan Tetris Champion Black@Gold Forever32's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by TOP GUN View Post
    Assuming we get the kinks worked out in training camp then yes we'll be fine but you know when you're talking about a lot of new formations and nuances in an offense you're inevitably going to have some screwups during the regular season. Fortunately for us we're not learning a whole new offense like most teams do when they get a new coach so we have that going for us too.
    I'm just putting faith that these guys are not dumb and they can actually learn new plays/formations quickly. Some players across the NFL are just flatout stupid.

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    Yeah we don't need any dumbass players on the field, there's enough of that going around in the league as it is. I was kinda surprised that we took a chance on an actual "not so smart" type of player in the draft so hopefully he doesn't give the whole team a case of stupid

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    Now I totally understand the reasoning behind drafting Matt Spaeth in the third round. I guess this is going to show how smart the Steelers are in the offensive scheme of things. I hope Arians prove himself very well. I remember that Cleveland-Pittsburgh game like it was yesterday. You know if that was Ben instead of Holcomb, you know Ben would probably throw for 500 yards. That would be a dream to see Ben have a day like that, but it isn't impossible with the formation and talent we have.

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    BlitzburghRockCity's Avatar
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    In the past, Steeler QB's having a "day like that" means that we lost the game most times because we were out of our element and not playing Steeler football. The future seems to be bright and much more multidimensional indeed !

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    Banned K Train's Avatar
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    lol when we had a day like that it means we were fighting our way back into the game.

    who was the dumb guy we took a chance on?

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