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Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Odds and end zones

Both offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau have told Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin they want to return for the 2012 season.

Cue the complaining, particularly about Arians.

© The Steelers have now played eight playoff games under Tomlin. All eight have gone over, including the 29-23 loss to the Broncos in which the over/under went off at 33.

File that away for future use.

© Hines Ward has told the P-G that he wants to play for the Steelers next season and is willing to take a pay cut to do so.

But, if a deal can't be worked out, Ward plans on trying to play somewhere else.

There are some on the coaching staff who don't want Ward back. In fact, one member of the staff didn't want him back in 2010.

But ownership wanted Ward with the team then and will likely want him back in 2012 as well.

Ward has been such a popular player for such a long time that the team will allow him to go out on his own terms and in a Steelers uniform. Unless, of course, Ward insists on having a greater role than what he played in the second half of 2012.

© I'll have my season wrap on the Steelers in Sunday's paper. Hopefully, it will be an interesting read for those who frequent this blog. It does answer a lot of the questions posed - many of which I haven't answered because I knew I was going to do so in the season wrap.

© My thoughts are with Joe Philbin and his family following the death of his son, Michael, whose body was found in a Wisconsin river earlier this week.

I did a story on Philbin, the Packers offensive coordinator, at the Super Bowl last season and found him very nice and accomodating.

Philbin is a 1984 graduate of Washington & Jefferson College here in Washington.


Robert K said...

Don't you think an OC who makes Ben play within the gameplan like Whiz did would be better than Arians?

At the moment Ben seems to call all the shots and our offense is nothing but mediocre.

Arians might be a capable OC but we'll never know because Ben just runs around like most plays. I think we need develop a more balanced run/pass game. We can't run a consistant passing offense with Ben. Too many pass attempts will just lead to another playoff run with a gimpy QB. Ben hasn't been healthy at the end of the season since 2009.

Ken M said...

Sure would love to know who wanted Hines gone in 2010. Still can't believe people think he's missing a step after 2 touchdowns in the Tennessee game? Wow.

Ken M said...

I mean to say after two TDs in the Tennessee game and then he gets benched? What's the real scoop, Dale?

Dale Lolley said...

Whisenhunt was able to control Roethlisberger better because he was a young QB. Now, he's a two-time Super Bowl winning QB who will make more next season than the whole coaching staff combined.

They have to count on Roethlisberger's competitiveness, which is legendary, for him to do the necessessary things to get better.

As for the coach who wanted to cut him, let's just say it was somebody who had some say in those things, but not the final say.

Anonymous said...

I'm curious (what coach) as well, but I'm sure we won't know until Ward hangs it up. I'm all for him returning and keeping the locker room focused along with the young guys.
As far as a new O.C. I'm not a B.A. fan by any means, but with the beat up line and a one legged QB.. What do you want from the man? All of us playing arm chair QB is easy to see his faults, like going 12-4 after a SB appearance. Like that happens all the time with this team! BA and BR do need to sit down and look at some tape from other teams and come up with some routes that doesn't have two or three receivers in the same area when Ben throws the ball.
Dale, thank you for everything, I think next year is going to be odd not seeing some of these guys around, but it's time to pass the torch. Also tell Ben to loosen up and start having some fun on the field, I miss his double guns shooting when he made a T.D. I liked Tebow's enthusiasm, haven't seen Ward smile in some time also. Guess I'm missing the good ol days..

adamg said...

Dale, just curious, have some of the coaches taken sides, indirectly, in the BR vs Ward locker room leadership power struggle?

Anonymous said...

I think I will only watch the defense play during the 2012 season. My son is almost old enough to tell me when the switch has occurred.

I just can't take it anymore.

I wish Ben wasn't in charge of the Steelers organization. The Ben-Bruce offense judged on its own is a failure.

The wins are on the team as a whole, and the offensive success, such as it is, is only there because of a consistently top 5 defense (who stunk the other day, sure).

That offense does not sniff the playoffs for 2007-2011 without the defense holding opposing teams to 16-17 points most weeks. I don't see how the previous sentence is debatable.

IF the NFL is heading toward video-game offenses (Brees, Rodgers, Brady) having the best chance to win it all every year, is Ben the best option at QB if Arians remains OC?

TarheelFlyer said...

The misconception about the BA/Ben relationship is that it is a run vs. pass scenario, but that isn't my problem with BA. You can't take the 7-8 yard pass if they aren't called for. You can't use the RBs as a passing weapon if you don't call plays that use them as the main target. You can't effectively throw the ball deep if you don't find plays which establish more than a token running game. Yep, we run the ball to the right behind a pulling LG, but what other running plays do we call? But those runs don't serve any purpose but to throw the ball down the field and EVERY D in the NFL knows it...EVERY ONE!

bruinmann77 said...

dale please provide the link to your sunday article would enjoy reading it.I to like to know who was the Coach but glad to Rooney keeping him here.I think 2012 will be his final year and it be as a steeler.I just hope the steelers with Arians drops the wr screens and Big Ben needs to find a way to incorporate the dump off.I have to think it was BA .

Anonymous said...

Field Goal Bruce and Ben's relationship needs to end.

I feel like we are back in the Kordell days with an offense that barely sniffs the endzone.

One thing for sure, the Steelers better invest In a stud kicker if they plan on the same chuck n'duck offense next season.

adamg said...

The thing that drives me craziest is that a good running game is a tremendous asset to the passing game. Look at NO, Texas, GB, NYG. Those teams don't shy away from passing, but they have good running games, too.

Denver has no passing game to speak of and yet they were able to keep the Steeler defense off balance with just the threat of the run and play action and average 31 yards PER pass completion!

The Steelers start out with a few token runs, then proceed to make themselves one dimensional. No wonder teams tee off and BR gets hurried, hit and sacked all the time. It's only a matter of the near term before BR suffers a season or career-ending knee injury.

Anonymous said...

Well most of the time the running game simply does not work. That goes mostly on the oline

Sunday though, the running game was working early on so that one is a mystery

Dale Lolley said...

Actually, the running game didn't work early as well as it worked in the second half.

Anonymous said...

GB and NYG have good running games? On what planet?

GB's running game is mediocre at best and NYG is the worst running team in the league in both yardage and YPA.

NO has a good run game, but Texas' passing game is mediocre even with Schaub.

adamg said...

Those are all teams that use the run to set up the pass. They actually try to run the ball and have a commitment to doing that. They don't abandon the run after a few short gains and make themselves 1 dimensional like BA/BR do.

Anonymous said...

After 5 seasons, I still don't get the sense that this is Tomlin's team. I like Tomlin, but he seems to be a glorified wedding planner to me. He facilitates, organizes, and plans well. Keeps everyone focused and on schedule. But it doesn't seem to go beyond that. He either doesn't have much say, or doesn't want much say on either side of the ball. Ben owns the offense, with his sycophant OC. LeBeau owns the defense for as long as he chooses. And ARII owns the overall team, overriding when he feels the need. Tomlin just seems to make it all work. But I don't see his stamp on the team. And even last year during the pre draft presser, when years past it was Colbert and Tomlin co-commanding the podium, Tomlin was just a backseat passenger. Timmons and Worilds are credited with being Tomlin hard-ons in past drafts. But last year for whatever reason, ARII made it a point to give Colbert a new title. Not saying it's good or bad. Just that it doesn't seem like Tomlin has much ownership anywhere on this team (other than team work schedule), compared to a quick scan around the league. Seems a boxed in taskmaster. If that's by his choice, or he's accepted that role, fine I guess. Lot of well-remembered Presidents managed their Office similarly. I dunno. Just my impression.

Anonymous said...

keep doubting Tomlin and watch him unleash hell on everybody


Anonymous said...

adamg - u r saying Green Bay runs to set up the pass?

u r wrong

Dale Lolley said...

The Giants were dead last running the ball this season. The Packers were also down at the bottom of the league rankings.

As for throwing the underneath stuff, just because a deep ball is the No. 1 or 2 option, doesn't mean you have to throw it. Usually, unless it's a screen or you're trying to get two yards to convert a third down, the pass to the backs are checkdowns. Very rarely are those the No. 1 option in any offense.

Anonymous said...

Also, accuracy on the deep ball is not exactly a strength of Ben's. I understand wanting to get Wallace the ball. If he wants it maybe he should get a little tougher over the middle (kill shots on receivers are just about done anyway).

When Ben just plants that back foot and fires it 20-25 yards downfield, he can really rifle it.

The short stuff he's not so great at either. He should stick to the mid-range passes, I guess, the way his & Bruce's offense (with all their fancy toys on the perimeter) is stuck in the middle of the pack for eternity.

Dale's completely right, it's totally on Ben to improve the mental aspects of his game at this point. I don't see it happening (when did Favre stop being careless with the ball? He probably throws reckless ints. during Wrangler photo shoots.).

Yet he'll still be really good, just really inconsistent and not quite top-tier at his position, maybe?

Robert K said...

Ben does make big plays but he is just so inconsistent. A good offense needs to keep the chains moving.

I think we need to develop the running game so that at least half of our offense might have some consistency.

Doesn't Ben realize that the reason teams blitz him more than any QB in the league is because they know he is too stubborn to take checkdowns? Did he not notice his best games this season were the ones he DIDN'T go deep every play(Titans and Pats)?

adamg said...

The Giants ran the ball pretty well last weekend against Atl. Coughlin believes in the run game even if it hasn't been executed very well by his team this season. GB does try and run as well.

Look at the NE game this year. The Steeler D was able to shut down Brady because their running game is non-eixistant and they had no real deep receiving threat, thus allowing the Steelers to take away the TEs and Welker with no fear of being burned by something else. Do you think Belichek won't address that weakness in the offense now that the Steelers gave a blueprint to all other NFL defenses? This is where BA/BR fail.

Anonymous said...

dale, i completely agree with you except that there are teams that intentionally bring the RB into the passing game. ravens are an easy example.

as far as adamg's point goes, consider the percentage of run/pass plays this year for the following:

packers 42% / 58%
giants 41% / 59%
steelers 44% / 56%

so, i think adamg is partly right in that the packers and giants do actually run the ball some. but, the steelers run more.

however, i think the real point is the sequence of plays the steelers go through during a game and how they completely ignore one facet of the offense for extended periods of time. now, if they were successful while doing that, then fine. but fact is, their results are middle of the pack.

TarheelFlyer said...

Okay just a couple of things:

1. Yes, teams do make use of the RBs as a weapon in the passing game...with intent. We don't. All of our RBs: Moore, Mendy, Redman, Dwyer, and Clay combined for just over 40 catches this year. New Orleans had 2 guys over with 80 and one with over 40. They can get 2 RBs involved in their passing game, yet we can't get the whole group involved. If you want to be a pass first team, which we are, you must use the RBs, the LBs must be made to cover them.

2. The argument is not, do we throw too much or do we run the ball enough IMO. The argument is about how and why we run and pass the ball. This offense is what Ben likes and what he wants to do. There is only one problem, every D in the NFL knows that and takes it away because they know that BA won't move away from it. Yep, they are only keeping 3 guys back to defend the run, but we are going to throw Deep over the middle and those 3 get pressure on us.

Lastly, this team can do very well on offense if BA and Ben are willing to execute a gameplan that isn't always THEIR strength. Use the plays that work to the TEAMs strength, not just Ben. Ben will have more success if they do this.

KT said...

Thanks for a great season of work. And thanks to Michael Bean of BTSC for pointing this blog out, I'd not known about it.

This has become must read.

As for the coach who "wanted Ward out in 2010" my God, who is this fool? Ward would have been the Super Bowl MVP had the Steelers won vs. Green Bay.

While his production did dip a little during the 2010 season, he still came up with quality catches when it counted.

This year, honestly, my heart says keep him (at the vet minimum) for 2012, but my mind keeps focusing on those drops -- there were a lot of them and they seemed to become more frequent as the year went on.

Regarding Arains, I am rather Arians agnostic -- he ain't the Steelers best offensive coordinator, but he's no Joe Walton or Kevin Gilbride.

But Bob Smizik had a good post in the PG today basically saying that Ben needs someone to play a little more displined ball.

I think we saw the limits of Ben's back yards style this year and/or we saw how age and injury will limit that in Ben.

Anonymous said...

I don't disagree with Smizik, but I still find it laughable. Apparently Smizik doesn't think anyone has the authority to way in on Arian's job future except for Smizik hisself. How many strawman rants has he gone off on over the past few years on this very subject? Bob, please, the following is long, long, long past due. Kindly STFU. Go away. Take Arians with you.

He does happen to be right this time. Arians is an enabler. And Roethlisberger won't take his game to the next level on his own. He needs a non golfing buddy who can do it. It's true Roethlisberger is too close to his OC. But isn't the same true for many, many on the other side of the ball with Coach Dad? I love LeBeau, but he too seems too close to his players to be objective and make the hard, critical decisions.

Anonymous said...

The difference is that over the past five years Arians has averaged 15th in the league in points and 14th in yards, whereas LeBeau has averaged 3rd in points and 2nd in yards. Therefore, LeBeau has earned through his results (Denver game aside) the freedom to do pretty much whatever he wants.