Morning Links (and Daily Thread)

A quick daily look at what’s happening around Steelers Nation. And consider this your open thread for discussing the days events and, well, anything else that comes to mind about the Black and Gold.

– Pro Bowl rosters have been announced: James Harrison, Troy Polamalu and … Maurkice Pouncey. As Rob D pointed out in yesterday’s comments, I’m especially excited for Deebo, Roger Goodell’s Public Enemy No. 1 against football-related violence. Feel free to bellyache about the guys who didn’t make it but should have. I’ll start: Bryant McFadden. (Hey, he had a pick last week.)

– As expected, the Ravens had a bunch of defensive players named to the Pro Bowl; Joe Thomas was the lone representative for the Browns; and the Bengals, well, they’ll get nothing and like it. Again. [ESPN]

– Behind the Steel Curtain gives out some team awards. [BTSC]

– Reader EasyLikeSundayMorning asked this question the other day: “QOTD: If Kubiak is fired, would we want him as our OC next year?”

And that got me thinking. Specifically, about how much animosity fans had for Bruce Arians a year ago. But much like Ray Lewis making the Pro Bowl year after year, BA’s reputation precedes him. The thing is, I think 2010 has been Arians’ best season as the Steelers offensive coordinator.

What constitutes “best” is certainly up for debate, but look at it this way: Pittsburgh went 3-1 without Big Ben to start the season. And while much of that had to do with the defense, the offense minimized mistakes. When you’re rolling with your third- and fourth-string quarterbacks, that’s a major accomplishment.

Arians also hasn’t shied away from the run, although he seems to be less predictable (completely anecdotal assessment, by the way; maybe I’m way off, but that’s the perception). He’s getting the ball to Mike Wallace, even when defenses took away the deep ball, and perhaps most impressive: the passing offense hasn’t missed a beat with the additions of Manny Sanders and Antonio Brown — and without Santonio Holmes.

Things were so bad last January that rumors had BA’s termination as imminent. And then there was this.

Oh, something else: are there any offensive coordinators you’d want? Honestly, I can’t think of one, mostly because every fan — save Josh McDaniels when he had Tom Brady — hates the OC. It’s a weird, tenuous dynamic.

Sorta related (and this was also mentioned in the previous thread): As long as we’re handing out awards, Sean Kugler should get Coach of the Year.

– From the YouTubez archive: 1976 Steelers Defense…

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  • Randy Steele

    I, too, am okay with Ariens. Given the loss of Rothlisberger for the first for games and horrid shape of the offensive line this year, it’s wow-mazing that this team is not only in the play-offs, but also close to getting a Number #2 seed and bye. Of course, if on Sunday the offense belly flops in Cleveland again…


    No way, we do not need to change what is not broken, if Ben and BA have come to terms and feel confortable game planning and executing, a change in the OC position would only waste one or two year of Big Ben’s prime window.

    It does not matter if you like it or not, in the last few years, you have been witnessing the very best version of Steeler Offensive Football in the history of the franchise.

    I bet hardcore guys would LOVE to bring Ron Earhardt or Ted Marchibroda, but I guess they should be dead now.

    Time to move on.

    • Anonymous

      It’s not just about fixing what’s broken. It’s also about improving in all aspects of play. Casey Hampton is playing good football, but if I could swap in Ngata for him, I would. Wouldn’t you give up the talented and improving Emmanuel Sanders for Fitzgerald? LaMarr Woodley for Terrell Suggs? If Kubiak, or say McDaniels or Whisenhunt were available, I’d be for upgrading at the coordinator spot. This season Arians has been serviceable, but comfort isn’t enough to keep a player or coach around when better options are on the table. I like to think than an elite professional quarterback and elite professional offensive coordinator could get comfortable pretty quickly.


        Intropy, Josh, I know what you mean, but really, where are those GENIUSES…SESES?… who´s been, recently, the very best Offensive units?…Pats, Colts, Saints, Bolts…who have been the guys in charge??…

        Pats – Belichick…no, not Wise, not McDaniels…The Hoodie IS the guy…and he wont be OC

        Colts – Payton Manning and whomever happens to be around him with a headset…

        Saints – Sean Peyton…not comming…

        Bolts – Norv Turner…do you REALLY want to get NORVED?!

        I mean, I DO NOT love Arians, and yes, he is a liability if in-games adjustments are required, so perhaps what I meant is that we do not HAVE to change the guy if really there are not major breakdowns, both Ben and BA are growing in confort, experience and, more importantly on RESULTS…just as we understand and forgive LeBeau for the weakneses of his system and strategy, I think that we need to come to terms with Arians…

      • Randy Steele

        Frankly, I would be skeptical of hiring someone like Kubiak or McDaniels or any of the other brand names who might become available after the season is over. Once someone has experienced a top job in his or her profession, it’s very difficult to settle for less.

        In general, when someone takes what’s considered a lesser job, he or she either consciously or sub-consciously treat it as such. It’s human nature. Those guys you’ve mentioned most likely would have one foot out the door before they got off the plane at Pittsburgh.

        Of course, you could argue that Dick LeBeau settled for less and because of that decision is now in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. But I’d argue that he’s the exception that proves the rule.

        On the other hand, if you know of some young whippersnapper laboring in the dark for another team who’d make a terrific OC whom no one has heard of or fully appreciates, you could change my mind about keeping Arians.

  • Josh

    I get that Arians is having his best year, the 3-1 stretch, etc. However, I strongly agree that the Steelers can do better.

    Ask yourself – how confident are you that our OC will be ready to adjust on the fly to the wrinkles that Pats would show us in a rematch?

    How confident are you that our OC will do his best game-planning in the playoffs, as a result of a full season of learning what works best for our offense (e.g., optimizing red zone play calling so we’re not throwing into the end zone from 20+ yards all of the time) or setting up our own wrinkles based on tendencies established during the season, etc.? Whisenhunt did this in ’05 & it was a big factor in the team’s success.

    When it’s win or go home and we have a 3rd & 2 at a crucial point in the game…

    The results have been good, but there is another level of great OCs out there that give the team a real advantage.

    • drinkingclub

      To tell you the truth, I don’t worry too much about the offense in games against the Patriots. I worry about the secondary.

  • ryan

    I have to agree with JC. I understand that BA isn’t perfect — far from it — but it’s not like there are top-flight OCs lined up waiting to get a shot. They’re about as rare (rarer?) as franchise QBs. I’d argue that Mike Mularkey and Ken Whisenhunt were better OCs than BA, but if both were available, I’m not sure they’re so much better at calling plays, game-planning, etc that it would be worth jettisoning Arians.

    • RoB D

      I heard somewhere (possibly NFLN) that Brady is basically calling most of the plays in NE now..Manning has been doing that forever with help in years past from Tom Moore. Maybe the best OC you can find is your own QB.
      I am a great believer that the hurry up is the way to counteract a lot of defensive trickeries. And BEn runs it like nobodies business. We need more mobile lineman in the future to help him.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    Randy, I wouldn’t dismiss someone as a coordinator candidate solely because they’ve been a head coach. It seems like there are lots of guys who have been excellent coordinators but aren’t good head coaches. If they can get another HC job, they’ll take it. But if they can’t, being a highly paid coordinator is still a good gig. Some guys can only be the top dog. But Marvin Lewis may join the ranks of guys like LeBeau, Gilbride, Gregg Williams, Fassel, Crennel, Weis, etc. who have gone back to being successful coordinators after having been fired as a head coach.

    • Randy Steele

      I agree with you to a point, Easy. Yeah, some guys can handle what they might perceive as a demotion and excel at the job anyway. There are examples of that, of whom you have named many, and they deserve respect. And, of course, money talks and a job is a job. You do what you have to do.

      But once you’ve been the big dog, once you’ve been in charge, it’s a never-ending adjustment to surrender your alpha and rejoin the pack. Sure, you may have to do it, but really, you’ll never be happy about it.

  • Randy Steele

    A lot of softball questions during this interview, but here’s a guy who really has his head on straight. Count me as a big fan of one of the Steelers most unsung heros.