We’re filing this under “Be careful what you ask for,” right above “Don’t worry, Tommy Maddox will turn the Steelers into an awesome passing offense” and “Chad Scott and DeWayne Washington always play much better than they practice.”
Gerry Dulac reported Wednesday night that Bruce Arians might not be back with the Steelers in 2012.
Whether that’s his choice or someone else’s, the point remains: for the first time in Mike Tomlin’s tenure, there could be somebody other than BA calling plays. I know that makes some of you happy. For others, like me, much less so.
We can all agree that BA wasn’t perfect; the differences in opinions come when we try to decide how important he was to the Steelers’ offensive success from 2007-2011. The team went to two Super Bowls, winning once, and according to Football Outsiders, the offense finished ninth or better in four of five seasons:
2007: 9th overall (7th pass, 18th run)
2008: 21st (19th, 15th)
2009: 7th (7th, 17th)
2010: 5th (3rd, 14th)
2011: 6th (7th, 7th)
Yes, Pittsburgh struggled in the red zone (it’s not a secret — Arians has admitted as much), but it’s not like we’re talking about Brian Schottenheimer or Mike Mularkey (most recently of the Falcons although he parlayed a two-point playoff effort into the Jags’ head coaching gig).
Arians didn’t try to fit Ben Roethlisberger’s style into his vision of an NFL offense. Just the opposite. This was Ben’s offense, although I’d agree that the Steelers didn’t run enough no-huddle. Roethlisberger was especially dangerous when he called the plays at the line of scrimmage but whether it was the lockout, inexperienced pass catchers, a porous offensive line or a hobbled quarterback, Arians always seemed to have an excuse why he wasn’t keen on giving Ben the reins. Except that when it did happen, the results were pretty good.
But now what?
I was all set to write about all the names and faces who might not be back in Latrobe in August (and I will) but here’s the other reality: Arians might have coached his last game, too. I know some of you welcome this news but unlike the other side of the ball where it appears that Keith Butler will assume Dick LeBeau’s defensive coordinator duties once that days comes, I have no clue who’ll replace Arians.
Here’s a look at the current coaching staff and there are Butlers or Mitchells on the offensive side of the ball. Is Randy Fitchner capable? No idea. I know BA recommended him earlier this year for the Memphis University job.
My biggest fear is that the Steelers end up with ‘Lil Schottenheimer (he’s allegedly headed to the Rams), wholly loathed in New York before he finally had the good sense to move on to … anywhere but New York. Or more generally, someone like Schottenheimer — big reputation but lacking in results. More than that: someone who’d want to run their offense, not Ben’s offense. I can’t imagine it would get to that point in the interview process but what the hell do I know?
I hope Arians returns. If he doesn’t, who are the candidates to replace him? (This isn’t rhetorical or snarky. I really am interested in your thoughts.) For completely selfish reasons, it’s too bad Chan Gailey didn’t get fired in Buffalo. I’d welcome him back to Pittsburgh.