Thursday, January 07, 2010

Ch-Ch-Ch-Changes

Offensive line coach Larry Zierlein and special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky are gone.

Quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson has retired.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is staying, apparently at the behest of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

What does it mean?

For one, it means that head coach Mike Tomlin was very serious when he said he's out to change the fact that Roethlisberger has been the most sacked quarterback in the league over the past four seasons.

Was that all Zierlein's fault? Nope. Roethlisberger was sacked 40-plus times in 2006 when Russ Grimm was still the offensive line coach in Pittsburgh and Ken Whisenhunt was the offensive coordinator.

But the team learned to live with Roethlisberger taking some of those sacks by holding the ball because him holding the ball also turned into some big plays for the offense.

While Arians will be back, some of the things the team does offensively will change. He and whoever the new QB coach is will work with Roethlisberger on getting rid of the ball more quickly - ie. reading defenses better - with the idea that they can prolong his career.

Roethlisberger has bucked that in the past because the coaching staff has been willing to live with the bad plays because the big plays were so great. But with the team's third-down conversion rate plunging this season to the bottom of the league and a defense that wasn't as dominant, the Steelers couldn't fight through the bad sacks this season. They just couldn't afford to lose that kind of field position.

Roethlisberger going to bat for Arians and getting his way is a bad sign for this team, however, in that it gives the QB the idea that he's in charge of this ship.

Should Roethlisberger have some say in the matter? Sure. But Tomlin had better have told him that if Arians stays, Roethlisberger had better spend the necessary time in the offseason working on getting rid of the ball more quickly.

32 comments:

Patrick said...

First!

Vaflyer said...

Holding the ball to long is the major issue? No, the major issue is that this team has allowed the QB and OC to take this team down a path where a needed first down on a 3rd and 1 is no longer smash mouth football, but a pass play with an empty backfield. It is a team where the OC doesn't know how to run the ball anywhere but between the guards. It is a team whose pass plays are more often than not throws down the field as we rarely take the underneath stuff. Take the Cleveland game, the D was giving the underneath all night, but we still HAD to have the big play. How did that work out?

I will be the first to predict it, Ariens will NOT have his contract renewed. Mark my words.

adamg said...

Terrific post, Dale. I especially agree about BR making thinking he's running the ship, but Arians does have one year left on his contract, so maybe it's more perception than reality. Maybe part of the thought process also is that since BA and BR are tight, with BA now apparently agreeing to rein in BR, that message will be easier to accept coming from a coach he likes. IMO, this will be a transition year and a new OC will be brought in next year.

BR seems to want to have the same control over the offense as Peyton Manning but w/o working as hard in the classroom as Manning does. I hope someone told BR that this off season the only thing he should be hitting the sack with is his playbook.

Vaflyer said...

Yes, Ben holds the ball too long sometimes, but are we really in here saying the our OC needs to reign Ben in? That the reason this team called 5 wide empty backfield plays on 3rd and 1 was Ben's fault? I don't buy it. The problem with this offense was NOT Ben, it was the plays.

If Ben is so trusting of Ariens that he went to bat for him, than at any point Ariens could have pulled the reings back....he didn't do it because Ben was doing exactly what he was told.

The problem with our 3rd down conversion rate is not Ben R. it is Ariens!

Anonymous said...

Dale,

I agree with most of your posting, but whose to say Tomlin didn't give Arians some ultimatums? Arians is in the last year of his contract and he has had some mixed success. Obviously Tomlin wants some changes. If they don't happen and if the offense doesn't improve then he has the option of not renewing his contract.

Steve

Anonymous said...

I agree that Ben holds the ball too long but how many times was a guy in his face a second after the snap. He always seems to make the first guy miss. He could have been sacked 70 times if he wasn't so strong and elusive. I hate to see a guy lose his job but something has to change.

Watching the National Championship. I'll pass on Cody from Bama. He plays high, doesn't get much push, and seems soft(plus he will be 400lbs in a year or 2. Franchise Hampton!!

chas steel

Pat S. said...

arians and roethlisberger are changing this offense to the likes of the philadelphia eagles. they wont be happy until this is a run and gun west coast offense. as long as we have roethlisberger and arians, the long philosophy of steelers football (running the football and stopping the run) is over... and it makes me sick to my stomach!

Patrick said...

Worked for three SBs for the Pats...

Why is it so hard to get?

Pass... Move the chains.

Where did all the Charlie Weis sack swingers go?

Anonymous said...

In today's NFL, passing the ball and stopping the pass are more closely correlated with winning than running the ball and stopping the run. Ideally, though, you'd like to be proficient in all four phases.

adamg said...

BR likes and goes to bat for BA because Arians lets Ben do what Ben wants. The past couple years, the coaches have been willing to trade the many dumb plays BR makes for the fewer good ones he makes on the run or scrambling around. But that's sandlot football, and as we saw this year, it's not really a good formula for success.

Look at 2005 for ex. Whisenhunt had BR playing within a system and Ben was a productive passer and had a great playoff performance throwing less often but more effectively than he does now. That's what BR needs to get back to, not winging the ball 30 yards down the field all the time.

joseph said...

Interesting that for as many issues as we have with philosophy on offense, the defense gets a pass this year? Our D directly cost us 5 of 7 losses.

Anonymous said...

Great point Joseph. I thought I was the only one who thought Mr. LeBeau was getting a free pass this year. yeah he is a great DC, but the whole coaching staff won the Super Bowl & the whole staff led us to a 9-7 season. I say give in one more year and if Catastrophe hits again make changes with the DC & OC.

Anonymous said...

Well unless something changes Arians only has 1 more year left on his deal and will be gone after next season. IMO LeBeau and the defense are, for right or wrong, getting a pass based on their past performances and the lack of Troy and Smith for most of the year.

Anonymous said...

I agree with much of what has been said. But I still think it's a mind thing. The team can't do what it has always done whether on O or on D if you don't have the players to do it. When Troy and Smith went down, they tried to continue playing the same style of D, and we saw how that worked. Same thing with the offense. You can't pound the ball on the ground unless you have the guys up front that can move the D-line out of the way.

That would be like the Colts running the same offense with Manning out of the game. Or the Ravens playing their style of defense without Lewis and Reed.

The OC and DC need to adjust their game plan based on the players available.

If the team wants to get back to the Steeler teams of old, they need to get guys that are big, strong and "nasty"

Sounds like Alan Faneca.

Oh well, 2010 will be different...how I'm not sure, but different it will be.

Patrick said...

joseph and Anonymous:

Patrick has been proud since the beginning of the season to say that the D has lost a step and was losing games for the team. It's nothing new. Obviously, it's all Dick LeBeau's and those decrepit old defensive players' fault, not the absence of two Pro Bowlers (A. Smith and T. Polamalu) due to injuries.

Anonymous said...

I'm not completely sold that the defense was as poor as many believe it was in 09'. If we convert on 3rd downs and stop getting 3&O's, the defense could have had more wind to finsh games. I think sitting on relatively small leads is expecting too much to ask of your defense week-by-week.

I think NOT firing Arians is a mistake as it doesn't appear that we have a offensive game plan most of the time. Abosolutley no continuity. That's on him. We will have a inconsistent again next year.

Patrick said...

Why waste money and draft picks on a D anyway? The team should find six 500 pound dudes to encircle BR so he has time to find an open receiver.

Derek said...

So, if you read into this, then what James Harrison said of people being selfish basically is calling out Big Ben. WHich I agree with.

Ben R. is Arrogant said...

BR's arrogance is on the verge of surpassing his own greatness....

Anonymous said...

Ben is a gifted QB. Reading a D is not one of his talents however. He has said it himself saying something like "I don't get much out of film study I like to see it for myself on the field"

Patrick said...

I really like how me saying after the Chi or Cincy game that the D "wasn't playing as well as last year" got me blasted for a month. Then by the end of the season, no one could really disagree with me.

But you somehow managed to turn that statement into this: "Patrick has been proud since the beginning of the season to say that the D has lost a step and was losing games for the team."

Look it up - exactly what I wrote is what I put in my first paragraph of this post and you come up with that.

Maybe it was the injuries, or maybe it was the lack of depth in the secondary, maybe it was other team's adjusting to the weaknesses of our D. Maybe SOME guys did lose a step. Likely, it was a combination of all those pieces.

But I never completely blasted or rather, said the words you came up with. All I said was not as good as last year. Thanks.

Anonymous said...

i think im so smart

- retarded Patrick

Dale Lolley said...

I didn't give the D a pass at all. I ripped it several times this season for not holding leads at the end of games and was skewered on this board.
The bottom line is that key components on the D have gotten old and the injuries had an effect as well. They were, I believe, 28th in the league in third-down defense. That's not acceptable.

As for Arians, I believe he was given some ultimatums of things he needs to change.

The third-down and short passing is all the rage in the league. You don't find too many teams willing to line it up in those situations and trying to run the ball. You definitely don't see many teams do it with mediocre offensive lines, which is what the Steelers have. The line is getting better, but it's still below the line.

That said, on third-and-short, it's on the QB to get rid of the ball quickly, not hold it and take a sack.

Anonymous said...

"He has said it himself saying something like "I don't get much out of film study I like to see it for myself on the field""

Some people learn better by doing than studying. Ben seems to be suggesting this very thing. He can't tell you how he does something...he just does it.

Anonymous said...

Didn't Ben go to bat for Plex and Randel el and didn't get his way... We don't need to change O.C. every three years, we need the head coach and all the other coaches on the same page. We need our O-line to get more playing time together. We need help at the corner position, but no one is calling for Dick's head on a platter. Some of this does fall on Ben, IMO he needs to read the D better when stepping up to the line. Dale are we missing some leadership in the locker room? Who are the voices? Who needs to step up in the locker room?
Sorry for rambling....
Zeke

Anonymous said...

I'd like to see Ben dedicate himself to the playbook, studying film, AND some offseason workouts. Is it just me, or has this guy packed on about 40 pounds since his rookie year? And it doesn't look like weight room muscle to me. I know, I know, he's a big, tall, tough-to-bring-down QB, but when does that morph into a too slow to elude the rush, overweight liability, ala Daunte Culpepper??
I'm a big Ben football fan, but not the person so much...

steelerark said...

Whoa Zeke, careful there. That sounds dangerously close to something called consistency that seems to anger some people around here. I mean, why wouldn't we want to switch up coaches every other year?

Seriously though, it amazes me how Steeler fans have become. When I was growing up, we had to fight for respect for our team, since the Cowboys got all the media attention. Now it seems as though Steeler fans have become the Cowboy fans of the 90's. The demand a superbowl every year, and if they don't get it, not only were they robbed of their birthright, but the coach needs to go. Hell, there are some here that want Tomlin gone this year. Nevermind that he is ONE year removed from a SB win and has not had a losing season yet.

Dale Lolley said...

Ward, Farrior, Aaron Smith, Harrison, Hampton and yes, to some extent, Roethlisberger, are the leaders of this team.

Anonymous said...

The bottom line is Ben is 20 lbs heavier from the Super Bowl and can not get away from the rush anymore!!!

marc said...

BR has said since day 1 he wants to go down as one of the greatest QB's ever.

we all know he wants mega passing yards, mega td's, and to be the super star QB.

i equate his current ego to that of kobe in "life after shaq." kobe wanted to be "the guy" and win the rings. his ego destroyed the team and it took phil jackson to bring kobe in line and the championship back.

well, it could go the same way with BR. he wants to be the guy and get all the numbers and it's starting to bring things down around him. we'll see if tomlin can keep him in line. but i worry.

Anonymous said...

big ben the football player is quite impressive. so much talent.

big ben the person has proven to be a very poor decision maker and a stubborn person.

when two converge sometimes you get the magic of the determination / talent . . . all the come back scoring drives

sometimes though you get the sacks and the refusal to use a check down. the worse part would be more concussions and a shorten career from the refusal to modify his game.

Anonymous said...

Quit whining about Roethlisberger Dale, now you sound like that dummy Wexell.

You two are nothing but keyboard Rambo's, why don't you two say what you say about Ben to his face?