Steelers notebook: Haley feels ‘smarter’ as offense busts out |

Steelers notebook: Haley feels ‘smarter’ as offense busts out

Three weeks ago, Todd Haley was trying to explain why the Steelers offense didn’t produce many yards or points during single-touchdown games against the Jaguars and Browns.

Now, he’s getting asked why the offense looks like it will score — and quickly — whenever it gets the ball.

“Yeah, I feel a lot smarter,” he said Thursday. “Like I told the players, as much as I would like to make it about me, when our guys execute and do it the way they’re supposed to, (the production will come).

“We as coaches are going to try to put them in the best position to succeed from a game-plan standpoint. But it comes down to them executing.”

Motion detector

One overlooked aspect of the recent offensive breakout — 124 points in three games — is the much greater use of motion by Haley.

The Steelers weren’t using much motion earlier in the season, preferring to use a variety of formations and misdirection plays. But Haley has significantly upgraded it lately.

One byproduct is that when a receiver goes in motion and a defender follows, Roethlisberger knows the defense likely will employ man coverage. When the man in motion isn’t followed, it signals zone coverage. At the same time, the no-huddle is being used sparingly.

“There wasn’t any need to get out of what we were doing at the time,” Haley said.

Big Ben versus Rex

Ben Roethlisberger twice opposed Rex Ryan defenses in AFC Championship Games, and he knows the Jets coach will have some tricks awaiting him Sunday, despite the Jets’ 1-8 record.

“It’s a Rex Ryan defense, and I’ve felt the pain of his defenses for a long time,” Roethlisberger said. “So we’re expecting a lot of unique blitzes and looks and craziness.”

Injury update

Cornerback Ike Taylor (broken right forearm) still hasn’t gotten clearance to resume full practicing.

“I feel like I can go out and play,” he said. “But the doctor (James Bradley) said to not be stupid.”

Outside linebacker Jarvis Jones had the hard protective cast removed from his dislocated wrist and has begun therapy, but a return date is uncertain. He’s eligible to come off the injured reserve–designated to return list.

Outside linebacker Jason Worilds (hamstring) returned to full practice Thursday after being limited Wednesday. Safety Ross Ventrone (hamstring) took part in some work.

Quick snaps

Roethlisberger was chosen as FedEx NFL Air player of the week, earning a $2,000 donation to the Pittsburgh chapter of the American Red Cross. … The Steelers are the only team with a 2,700-yard passer (Roethlisberger), a 900-yard receiver (Antonio Brown) and a 700-yard rusher (Le’Veon Bell). … Backups have played 33 percent of the Steelers defensive snaps (2,069). The starters have played 4,280 snaps, according to Pro Football Focus. …The Steelers are 10-3 against the Jets in the Meadowlands, either at MetLife Stadium or the former Giants Stadium.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at [email protected] or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib

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