PITTSBURGH -- The Pittsburgh Steelers' new-look offense under coordinator Randy Fichtner is more of an old look, at least the structure of it. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said the offensive scheme won't change despite the departure of coordinator Todd Haley. The team is relying on the continuity of four offensive coaches returning and a quarterback entering his 15th season
The staples of the offense -- Antonio Brown lining up all over the field, three-receiver or two-tight-end sets, Martavis Bryant as a vertical threat and high-volume Le'Veon Bell -- will likely remain intact. Nonetheless, here are a few themes to explore with the 2018 attack:
Run-pass planning: The passing-game brainstorms will come from the quarterbacks room, where Fichtner and Roethlisberger will be "working very closely together" daily, Roethlisberger predicted at the Pro Bowl.
But retaining offensive line coach Mike Munchak, who interviewed for the Arizona Cardinals head coaching job, was crucial for a running game he's helped architect the last few years. Munchak can keep pumping those pulling plays with David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey. Expect frequent collaboration between Fichtner and Munchak.
"Munch staying validates what Randy means to us and to him and this team," Roethlisberger said.
The Steelers liked to mix and match running packages, often kicking Bell out wide. This didn't work out so well on a crucial 4th-and-1 against Jacksonville in the playoffs but generally helped move the ball downfield. It's worth noting that coaches who worked with Fichtner at Memphis, where he called plays in the early 2000s, say the playcaller appreciates a good up-the-middle run as a way to set the tone.
'It's our offense': Asked about the perception that he'll be a de facto offensive coordinator, Roethlisberger stresses the Steelers offense belongs to everyone.
"It's never one person's offense," he said.
Loose translation: Pour a bunch of ideas into the game plan and let the best ones fly.
But Roethlisberger clearly be given a lot of trust under Fichtner, starting with the no-huddle, which helped spark Roethlisberger's late-season surge of nearly 350 passing yards and three touchdowns per game over the final seven contests.
Roethlisberger cites 11 years of working with Fichtner, mostly in the quarterback room, as a way to promote offensive synergy.
"I don't think it's any secret we have a great relationship," Roethlisberger said. "I think that's what [the Steelers] wanted to propel moving forward."
When it comes to Roethlisberger's longevity -- the 36-year-old is eyeing three more NFL seasons -- Fichtner said he looks forward to having dialogue with Big Ben about his yearly health and overall progress.
"He wants to win ball games," Fichtner said. "I hope he plays as long as he wants to."
More Bell in the passing game: Some of Roethlisberger's best statistical stretches -- 2014 and late 2017 -- came when Bell was gashing defenses for chunk yardage in the passing game. Bell accounted for 492 of Roethlisberger's passing yardage and 54 completions over those final seven games.
The two complement each other well, and as Roethlisberger points out, Bell is only improving as a receiver lining up wide.
Fichtner seems to know how crucial Bell is to a coordinator. He noted the respect Bell garnered from his Pro Bowl peers.
"He's a special talent and a special person. I only wish the best for him," said Fichtner of Bell.
Wild card: TE Vance McDonald: McDonald's $4.3-million cap hit isn't ideal for a team tight on space, but Roethlisberger and McDonald might have found something late in the season. McDonald recorded 18 catches for 216 yards in the last three full games. Roethlisberger was looking to him early and often against the Jaguars.
McDonald's quickness is a good complement to Jesse James' functional role. Here's to guessing the quarterback wouldn't mind McDonald back in 2018.