Updated: Dec 31, 2020
(Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)
Yesterday during a segment on the NFL Network, Michael Silver said that JuJu Smith-Schuster told him pre-snap the Colts were calling out the plays in the first half.
Mike Prisuta of 102.5 WDVE asked Mike Tomlin about Smith-Schuster's statement at his weekly press conference today, and Tomlin said they were calling the Colts plays out as well.
"We were calling out their plays, too," he said. "Philip Rivers was calling out our adjustments. I think it's one of the things that kind of goes on in 2020 during the global pandemic when you're playing in crickets, in eerily quiet stadiums."
It's an unusual year with no fans at stadiums due to the COVID-19 pandemic and the hub of communication is a lot different, which sometimes makes things more apparent.
"I know other teams have talked about that some," Tomlin said about defenses calling out plays pre-snap. "I think it's just one of the adjustable things that we all globally have to deal with in the 2020 environment because of the level of communication and the amount of communication that's heard between units prior to a snap in 2020's environment."
Tomlin's explanation is certainly plausible, even watching the games on TV you can hear a lot more things than normal. Regardless, Randy Fichtner's play calls in the first half were still incredibly predictable.
The Steelers have gone three-and-out on their first possession in five straight games and haven't scored a single offensive point in the first quarter since Week 10 against the Cincinnati Bengals. The Steelers have had just one touchdown drive on their opening possession this season and that was against the Tennessee Titans in Week 7. Before that, they didn't have an opening drive touchdown since Week 15 of 2018 against the New England Patriots.
With the playoffs on the horizon, the Steelers need to get out of the gates faster and Fichtner needs to script better plays, if not the Steelers could find themselves in too deep of a hole to recover from.