Tag:Bruce Arians
Posted on: January 6, 2010 10:49 am
Edited on: January 6, 2010 10:59 am

If Only ... - Part Two

Prior to the start of the 2009, in true homer fashion, I had projected the Steelers to win Superbowl XLIV.  Okay, I’ll admit, I’m not a complete homer.   As much as I  would love to see the Steelers make the Superbowl year in and year out, I also know that’s not always a possibility.  When Tommy Maddox went down in 2004, a year after the Steelers finished 6-10, I expected another losing season under a rookie quarterback (see, I’m not always right about the Steelers).

My reason for the projection though really wasn’t out of homerism (though my fantasy football picks were), just more out of logic.  And I’m sure that many non-Steelers fans agreed that if there was a team at the time that was perfectly poised for a back to back, it was the 09 Steelers.  Limited turnover in personnel, the strength of talent on this current Steelers roster and their 09 schedule had them perfectly poised to do it.  Unfortunately my predictions fell short, sort of like the Steelers season. 

Going into the post-season, while 12 teams are preparing for their run at the Lombardi Trophy, Steelers join 19 other teams in determining where to go next year.  National media and analysts will be focused on the playoffs and the coaching carousel throughout the NFL.  Pittsburgh media and many Steelers fans, including myself, will be watching and talking about what transpires within the black and gold organization for the next few weeks.  Continuing to try to figure out what went wrong and why, it’ll be a topic discussed on message boards and in analysts columns both in the Pittsburgh and national media as they break down the end of various teams seasons.  CBS Sports writer, Pete Prisco believes that the Steelers defense needs a lot of help as he mentioned in his final regular power rankings and NFL.com’s  Bucky Brooks broke down the Steelers in his column.  And now, after the retirement of Ken Anderson as the Steelers quarterback coach yesterday, we’re waiting with baited breath to see the fate of Bruce Arians. 

In the first part of “If Only”, I tended to regurgitated responses to what the media had speculated  on the demise of a defense that the previous season was no less then a shut down defense, both against the run and the pass.  It was that defense, along with a clutch quarterback and some very good receivers that propelled the Steelers through the playoffs and into the Superbowl.  It’s a given that members of the media and fans of Pittsburgh legendary franchise would try to find reasons as to why.  (Yes, yes, I know that I’m repeating myself). 

Now I’ll admit, myself, I’m far from being an expert at the game.  I’ve never taken a snap, blocked a defensive lineman or even kicked a field goal.  I was never a football mom, heck, I wasn’t even a pom pom waiving cheerleader, just a fan.  But I can say, I’ve been watching the games enough, to be certain of at least some things. 

  • Steeler management needs to put a clause in all players contracts that they will never, ever, appear in a Campbell’s Chunky Soup commercial (see 2006 when Ben Roethlisberger was suppose to be the Chunky Soup commercial and the team went 8-8 that season), appear on a Madden whatever box and not to appear on an Sports Illustrated cover (unless of course, it’s their swimsuit addition and they’re not in uniform).  Okay the SI cover may be a stretch, but why tempt fate? 
  • Every Steelers fan needs to keep a bottle of Bayer aspirin close by, just in case.  Terry O’Neil knows what watching a Steelers game can do to the heart.  He’s the fan who made national headlines in 06 for suffering a heart attack after Jerome Bettis fumbled the ball at the goal line in the Steelers/Colts playoff game.  I’m right with Terry there on this one.  I think the Denver game was the only game this year that I didn’t have my heart in my throat in the fourth quarter. 
  • Steelers fans can be extremely passionate and loyal, can be rabid, are extremely spoiled and as a collective, the Steelers Nation can sometimes be bi-polar.  I’ll address this one later, but when some fans start wanting to burn in effigy a coach who has gone to the playoffs twice, winning a Superbowl, and barely missed the playoffs without a losing season only after three seasons in that position.  Or announce on players facebook pages that the loss against Cleveland made them embarrassed to be a Steelers fan, I just have to shake my head.  Sometimes I think we can take lessons from Lions, Saints, Browns and even Bengals fans.
  • Not to bite into the media hype or the drama.  We’ve heard twice about issues between Hines Ward and Ben Roethlisberger.  After the 2007 season when the press reported that Ben wanted a tall wide receiver and Ward took exception to it.  Yep, there was a rift there, so much so that the Steelers went on to the Superbowl.  Ward would catch 81 times for 1,043 yards and 7 touchdowns.  And after his comments about Ben’s concussion, yep, a real drop statistically in those games.  Yep, the Steelers had a big McNabb/TO controversy going there…NOT.
  • That stats always don’t paint the full picture.  A team with a top five overall defense, with an offense that has a quarterback that has thrown for 4000 yards and a quarterback completion rating of 100.5, with two 1000+ yards receivers PLUS a 1,000 yard running back should be in the playoffs, right? 
  • And yes, despite what Pittsburgh Post Gazette writer Ron Cook might believe (1), Bruce Arians needs to go.  In his column today, Cook points to the stats this season as reason why the calls for Arians head is unjustified.  Though I may agree with Cook on the Steelers need to keep the idea of the high powered passing offense in place, I disagree that Arians is the man to do this.  High powered passing offenses that can make it to and win the Superbowl utilize their weapons effectively.  Arians has all the talent needed for a pick your poison offense, but has shown he’s more of a Mr. Hyde then Dr. Jekyll in his Jekyll and Hyde play calling. 

Let’s face it, the Steelers do have a running game.  Rashard Mendenhall running for 1000 yards rushing for the season.  They have an explosive pass attack if used effectively,  2 1000+ yard receivers and a rookie deep threat by the name of Mike Wallace  proved that.  The game against the Chargers earlier in the season showed how deadly that poison can be when mixed properly.  333 yards passing for 2 TDs and a running back that ran for 165 yards and 2 TDs, not to mention a 6 yard pass by Mewelde Moore for another, made any attempt at a come from behind win a Philip Rivers led offense kind of a pipe dream.  Now take the same offense in the Packers/Steelers game. 503 yards passing by the Steelers and yet the Steelers needed a last minute touchdown to win that game.  Three touch downs in the first half compared to three field goals in the second. 

This is why I believe Arians needs to go.  Despite what the stats say, Arians more often then not seems to have no answers for the 3d and goals.  Think Arians is evolving Ron?  Look at his play calling against the Eagles in the 2008 season.  Despite being eaten alive by the Eagles defense, Arians offered very little solution except keeping Ben behind center and running, running and then pass.  Easily read by the defense Bruce.  How many sacks did Ben take this season?  What did Arians do when the line seemed overwhelmed?  Yeah, sometimes he’d let Ben run no huddle or muddled huddle, other times, Arians seemed to have no answers except…you guessed it, the deep ball. 

No Ron, my reasoning for wanting Arians gone has nothing to do with wanting to revert back to power run first philosophy of old.  I just believe that he has issues using his resources correctly. 

If only he had more games like they did in Denver and against San Diego, continuing to play to win in the 2nd half rather then trying to sit on the lead offensively as we’ve seen in many game by eating the clock and field.  (Especially in the 4th quarter in the first Cincinnati game).   Want wow Bruce…the Denver game was just that, both offensively and defensively.   Why not go for something like that in every game…nevermind, I’m sure he has.

If only his play calling wasn’t so predictable a lot of the time, especially in the 2nd half. How often have we watched the offense telegraph the plays only to result in Ben being sacked?

If only he wouldn’t get conservative when  he should be aggressive and shouldn’t get aggressive when it calls for him to be conservative. 

If only his play calling seemed to be more situational rather then scripted.  Not that it doesn’t happen but once it works, he reverts back to the script he laid out. 

If only he hadn’t opted to pass twice as often as running in a game where the winds were 60 mph or where the rush defense of the opponent was suspect and the run was actually working.  Or if he adjusted his play calling sooner or didn’t wait for two minutes to go no huddle when the oline and Ben are taking a beating.

If only there weren’t so many reasons as to why we lack confidence in him, perhaps Ron, we the fans wouldn’t be calling for his head year in and year out.

Ron, and here’s probably the biggest reason I believe that Arians should no longer be in Pittsburgh.  For three years Ron, the Steelers offense has struggled on 3d and short.  For two of those years they were brushed off due to injuries, or young running backs or issues with the oline.  Ron, this year the Steelers have a quarterback that has thrown for 4000+ yards in a season.  Ron, this year the Steelers have two wide receivers who’ve caught for 1,000 + yds.  Ron, this year the Steelers have a deep fast threat in the way of Mike Wallace.  Ron, this year the Steelers have a running back who has ran for over 1,000 yds.  Ron, yet, still in three years, more often then not, the Steelers are kicking field goals instead of converting the 3d and goals to touchdowns. 

If only Bruce Arians had the answer to this problem, then there’d be less of a call for his head…if only…

(1):  Making Arians a Scapegoat is Unwarranted, Pittsburgh Post Gazette, Wednesday 1/6/10

Posted on: December 22, 2008 6:45 am

Verdicts In, Arians Needs To Go

Alright, up until now, I was sitting on the fence regarding Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, but after the game on Sunday and Arians comments to the press, I just shook my head and said, that does it.  The comment regarding the loss?  We "didn't run the ball enough and didn't run it well enough."  Duh...you think?  40 pass plays to 24 rushing attempts, makes that blaringly obvious. 

So Parker wasn't get much accomplished on the ground, but where was the justification in going to the air against a defense who was in the top five in passing defense?  Especially when running back Mewelde Moore ran for as many yards in three attempts, as Willie Parker did in 18.  Yet you only had Ben hand off three times to Moore against the Titans. Why Bruce, why?

Once again Bruce, you hung that oline out to dry yesterday by wanting to go to the air.  You can say all you want about how you're run first oriented, but we know better.  You showed it when you kept Ben in the pocket against the Eagles, you showed it in Indianapolis, my god, against a team that the Steelers could actually have a chance to run on, you go to the air.  Again you showed it today. 

So the Steelers weren't effective with the run, not necessarily true.  Then again, the Titans weren't either but they didn't give it up.  That's the difference Bruce.  You abandon it too easily.  And going into the playoffs, now, can we really trust you not to call another quarterback drawl on 3-16 like you did against the Jaguars last year?  I wonder, especially given your comment when questioned about a 3d and 1 passing attempt that was intercepted by a Colts defender.  The comment went along the lines of "we used it because it worked before".  Umm, Bruce, we know that Dick LeBeau tends to learn from plays that bit his defense and adjust so not to let them work again, you don't think other DC's do the same?

In the scheme of things, the Titans loss wasn't a major loss, but that leads to questions going down the line, especially since they'll be facing the same teams again in the playoffs, will you be doing the same thing?  I gave you a pass last year and thought you'd figure it out by now, but apparently you haven't. 

Alot of blame has been placed on the Steelers offensive line this season, perhaps, undeservingly so.  How can an oline without an identity be effective.  At one point in time, the Steelers oline had been considered one of the best olines in the league.  The reason, they knew what they were supposed to do, they had an identity.  No, it wasn't a pass protect oline, it was built to open up the run.  The reason Ben did well under that oline was his ability to get out of the pocket to make the plays.  Now the oline gets shredded and Ben has been on the ground more times then most of the quarterbacks in the league.  You've failed to give this oline an identity.  Are they to be built to open up holes in the defense to get the run through?  Or are they to be a pass protect oline?  Which one is it Bruce? 

I don't know Bruce, perhaps the AFC North is not for you.  As an OC, you may be better off with a team that uses the West Coast Offense.  That seems to be more your style of play and you would probably fare much better there, then with a team whose identity is based much more on their ability to run the ball.  I don't believe Pittsburgh is the place for you.

Posted on: September 7, 2008 9:36 pm
Edited on: September 7, 2008 9:46 pm

It's Steelers Football Babeee - Week One

A bright day, the sun shining down and in the stands the Terrible Towels were waving high and fast in the city of steel.  The Steelers were facing the Houston Texans for the third time in the history of the young Texas franchise.  The electricity of the day, the season opener at home for the Steelers could be felt by this Steeler’s fan through the very screen of the television as I watched the opening of the game.   By the end of the game, the lyrics from Sweet’s song, "Little Willy" kept playing over and over in my head:

North side, east side
Little Willy, Willy wears the crown, he's the king around town
Dancing, glancing
Willy drives them silly with his star shoe shimmy shuffle down
Way past one, and feeling alright
'Cause with little Willy round they can last all night
Hey down, stay down, stay down down

We had questions going into this game.  Would the Steelers extend their winning streak to six straight games at home for the season opener?  How well will the Steelers o-line line hold up to the likes of Mario Williams?  What factor would Willie Parker’s injury from last year play?  Would there be improvement in the special teams play?  In the end, for this day, the questions were answered.

For those who wondered how well the oline would do without Alan Faneca, that was answered by 138 rushing yards allowed by the Texan’s defense and three touchdown runs by Willie Parker.   There would be no doubt that Chris Kemoetu was more then an adequate replacement for Faneca.  The o-line, for the most part, continued to hit hard, giving protection to Ben Roethlisberger and opening up the rushing lanes for Willie to run.  If one were to ask if there was a weak link on the Steelers oline, it would have to be with Willie Colon.  Hopefully Colon will continue to improve and not miss crucial blocks to help protect Roethlisberger.

Ben Roethlisberger seems to have finally come to full maturity, showing quick release of the ball at times to hit his TE Heath Miller and there was no controversy with taller wide receivers when Ben connected with Hines Ward six times, twice resulting in a touchdown.  If there were any questions about the chemistry between the young quarterback and the veteran wide receiver, it was answered in this game.  At the end, Roethlisberger would have an almost perfect night completing 13 of 14 passes, and has shown that this offense could possibly be a complete, pick your poison offense.

The Steeler defense showed why they were the number one defense from last season and promises to be a hard hitting, topped rank defense again this year.  Troy Polamalu proved that he was still an integral part of this defense, not only with his hard hitting stops in his three unassisted tackles, but showed that he can read the play perfectly when Matt Schaub hit him in the numbers, causing an interception.  One exciting player, LB  Lamar Woodley, made Steelers fans proud with his sack on Schaub, as well as a one handed interception.   However, if you were to ask who was the defensive player for this game, no one could deny it would be pro-bowl linebacker James Harrison with six unassisted tackles, three sacks and one forced fumble.  No doubt that the showing of this defense was a great way for Dick LeBeau to start his 50th year in the NFL. 

Also exciting was to watch the speed and the hard hitting defense on the Steelers special teams.  Also considered one of the weaker links in the Steeler’s team, the defensive play of the special teams, yesterday, though they allowed some yardage on punt and kick off returns, the stifled any explosive plays that is possible with the Texans wide receivers.  Jeff Reed was his typical consistent self kicking one field goal and making 5 of 5 of the extra points. 

It wasn’t all Pittsburgh positives though.  Matt Schaub passed for 202 yards, his key receiver, Andre Johnson catching 10 passes for 110 yards, making this duo a viable passing threat in the AFC.  Mario Williams proved why the Texans made him their first one draft choice in 2006.  Williams and the front four played fast and hard against the Pittsburgh’s oline and it payed off twice with two sacks on Roethlisberger, one leading to a forced fumble.  In the end though, Texans just entered hostile terrority where many teams met the same fate on opening day at Heinz Field.

Mike Tomlin, Dick LeBeau, Bruce Arians and the whole Steelers team played the style of football that we've become use to with this hard hitting team and continues to keep them a dominant force in the AFC and the NFL today.  Welcome to Steelers football. 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com