Courtesy of Point Park University

Friday Insider: Empty venues = silent counts?

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Fans react to the playing of Renegade at Heinz Field last season -- MATT SUNDAY / DKPS

Everyone is focusing on how strange it will be to not have fans in football stadiums this fall. The general feeling this far has been is that it will affect defenses, who usually feed off the energy of the crowd, more than offenses.

But we could see defenses have a pretty big advantage playing in empty stadiums. They'll be able to hear everything. And time everything up.

"One thing I think is going to be interesting to see is how they’re going to go about calling plays and the cadence," the Steelers' Cam Heyward said Thursday in a Zoom call. "The smarter ones are going to pick up on that and use it to their advantage, especially in the division. If you really get a good grasp and hear a quarterback talking out loud without fan noise, you should have an advantage as a defense."

What that could lead to is offenses running on silent counts and using hand signals to change plays -- just like they would in a very loud stadium.

It's another reason why veteran teams that have been together for longer periods will have an advantage coming out of this offseason shutdown. They're more accustomed to running their offense under those conditions.

Some of the television networks have toyed with the idea of piping in crowd noise to give the audience at home the sounds they are accustomed to hearing -- and perhaps cover up some of the bad language that could be picked up by on-field microphones.

But there's an expectation that likely won't be the case.

As for in-stadium sound to provide a home field advantage?

"I guess we’re just going to be playing Renegade through the entire game," Heyward joked.

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