Of all the terrible gameplans Bruce Arians has put together in his tenure as offensive coordinator, yesterday's had to be the most scattered and rudderless. Granted, the offense was helped out by fumbles from Heath Miller and Roethlisberger on a sneak, but the playcalling on a whole was horrendously bad.
This is an offense without identity, but one that leans toward the pass. Yesterday was evidence enough of a lack of commitment to the running game. Even if a back picks up five yards on first down, the defense knows the Steelers will be throwing on second and third down. When have the Steelers tried to run on a 3rd or 4th down on anything less than two yards. As the Patriots and Cowboys have shown, the shotgun draws are quite effective against a defense selling out on pass coverage. Can the Steelers incorporate that into their gameplan? Probably not while Arians is around.
If there's any downside to the Steelers having more success as a team than last year is that it makes the argument for firing Arians more difficult unless there is some epic offensive meltdown on the playoffs. God forbid the Steelers postseason fortunes come down to a 4th down on the opponent's goal line. What're the chances Arians dials up the counter run yet again? A thousand percent?
Any time I see the above formation, the shotgun five-receiver empty set, on first down, I start shouting uncontrollably, whether it works or not, though it doesn't more often than it does. It signals a complete lack of faith in a running game that picked up 160 yards the week before on the road. Whisenhunt used to drive me nuts with shotgun formations on 3rd and 2s. The Steelers are well removed from their grind-it-out days of the '90s but I think most fans still like to embrace the illusion that they haven't tried to turn into a watered down West Coast Offense.