PITTSBURGH -- Ben Roethlisberger made running the no-huddle offense look easy last Sunday as he passed for 367 yards and four touchdowns in the Steelers' 37-27 win over the Lions.
Coach Mike Tomlin was predictably peppered with questions about the no-huddle at his weekly news conference, after he had reviewed film from the win over the Lions. One thing he made clear about the no-huddle offense: it is a lot more than just tossing Roethlisberger a football and telling the veteran quarterback to go do his thing.
"Make no mistake, guys, there is a lot of preparation that goes into this," Tomlin said. "There is a menu of plays decided upon collectively during the course of the week, and [Roethlisberger] is simply picking from that menu.
"We're not there unscripted, leaving him up to his devices, even though he's fully capable, that wouldn't be fair to him. There is preparation involved. There is a certain level of preparation and preparedness and a menu. Those plays that we employ in the no-huddle, we also employ in our normal offense."
Tomlin said the Steelers ran their no-huddle offense early and often against the Lions to keep mammoth defensive tackles Ndamukong Suh and Nick Fairley from getting into a rhythm and also to try and wear them out.
The Steelers could take the same approach against the Browns, who are even stingier against the run than the Lions and are also stout up front.
Todd Haley's critics love the no-huddle because it turns Roethlisberger into the primary play-caller. Roethlisberger is obviously comfortable with it and more than capable of running it.
I tend to fall into Tomlin's line of thinking in that the no-huddle has its time and place but that it shouldn't be used too much.
As Tomlin said, the no-huddle limits personnel groupings and hence plays that can be called. There is also the risk of overexposure to the no-huddle offense because of technology.
"Television copy of no-huddle offenses has a lot of information on their video," Tomlin said. "It's something that's been going on in football for a number of years so you've got to be very cautious about employing it, how much you employ it, how you change your verbal communication."
And the process for deciding if the Steelers are going to use the no-huddle offense during the course of a game (not just at the end of the second or fourth quarters)?
"We have certain scripted questions that we ask if we chose to employ [the no-huddle] as a weapon," Tomlin said. "If enough things are favorable for us then obviously it's something we'll consider, work on, prepare and utilize."