Pittsburgh Steelers: Who Will Be the Offensive Coordinator Next Year?
The streets of Pittsburgh are eager with anticipation. There is no championship on the line, but instead, something that Steelers' fans have been waiting for for years.
Bruce Arians, the much maligned offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, may not return next season.
Gerry Dulac, of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, speculated that Arians might not return for the 2012 season, meaning that Mike Tomlin would have to bring in his first new coordinator since being named Steelers head coach in 2007.
While there has been no official word, it seems that Arians' not returning to the team next season is a strong possibility.
Arians has recently considered retirement and team president Art Rooney expressed concerns over the 21st-ranked scoring offense earlier this week. Now, more than ever, may be the time for Arians to move on.
Until there is official word, though, it is hard to say whether or not the Steelers offense will be under a new coach next season.
Here are some possible candidates for offensive coordinator.
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Until there is official word, the favorite for offensive coordinator next year is Bruce Arians.
Mike Tomlin said that he anticipated that Arians would be back next year and there is no reason that he wouldn't want him back.
If Tomlin didn't approve of the job that Arians has done, he either would have forced changes with the offense or fired him. Tomlin has done neither.
Why should he? Arians has helped the Steelers to one Super Bowl championship and another appearance.
There is no doubt that Arians' offense has helped the Steelers put up some spectacular numbers, particularly in the passing game. This season, the Steelers had two 1,000-yard receivers despite a late-season injury to Ben Roethlisberger and injuries to the offensive line.
Speakin of Roethlisberger, he is Arians' biggest fan.
"We've got something special here," Roethlisberger said.
"We've got a lot of great young players. As long as they don't get crazy and change the offense -- that can really set you back -- the sky is the limit for this team."
By "don't get crazy and change the offense," Roethlisberger means "don't let go of Bruce Arians."
Roethlisberger carries a lot of influence in the Steelers organization, certainly enough to have input on an offensive coordinator, but is it enough to help keep Arians for one more year?
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Mark Whipple should be a familiar name to everyone. He was the Steelers quarterbacks coach from 2004-2006, which coincided with Roethlisberger's first three years.
Whipple was instrumental of developing Roethlisberger, who went 13-0 in the regular season as a rookie and won the Super Bowl in his second year.
Tomlin let got of Whipple when he was hired as head coach, but that does not mean he cannot return.
Whipple has a good rapport with Roethlisberger, and more importantly, he is known for his great offensive mind.
Prior to going to the NFL, Whipple has had extensive experience in college where he coached some of the best offenses in the country. While head coach at University of Massachusetts-Amherst, Whipple lead his team to a 49-25 record and a national championship while setting team passing and scoring records.
Despite his wide-open offensive approach, Whipple adjusted his style when with the Steelers, who, under Bill Cowher, liked to run the ball.
The comfort factor with Pittsburgh and Roethlisberger, as well as an aggressive offensive passing game, Whipple could be an option.
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Sticking with the theme of former quarterbacks coaches, Tom Clements will be another name that will come up for the offensive coordinator position if it opens up.
Clements is currently the quarterbacks coach of the Green Bay Packers and has worked with Brett Favre and Aaron Rodgers, who just had one of the all-time great seasons by a quarterback. He also coached Matt Flynn, who will be a highly-sought after quarterback this offseason.
While with the Steelers from 2001-2003, Clements helped coach Kordell Stewart and Tommy Maddox to the Pro Bowl.
Clements left the Steelers after the 2003 season and joined the Buffalo Bills as offensive coordinator from 2004-2005. His offenses only finished 25th and 28th, though the Bills had some high-scoring outputs in the 2004 season.
Unlike Whipple, Clements does not have the same extensive coaching experience, but his history with the Steelers and recent success with the Packers will help put his name out there.
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As son of Dick Haley, former Director of Player Personnel for the Steelers, Todd Haley has been a name associated with the potential coordinator opening.
Haley is remembered by Steelers fans as the coordinator who had a great offense in Arizona with Kurt Warner at quarterback. In Super Bowl 43, the Cardinals gave the Steelers top-rated defense all they could handle.
However, it is hard to look past Haley's personality, specifically how his strong personality would mesh with Roethlisberger. Somehow, I don't believe it would be a great match.
There is no doubting that Haley has a good offensive mind, but he has yet to land a job since being fired from Kansas City. After his lack of success with the Chiefs, is it worth taking a risk on a coach like Haley?
Probably not, but his name is being thrown out there.
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According to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette, running backs coach Kirby Wilson was next in line to be offensive coordinator. Unfortunately, Wilson remains in the hospital for severe burn injuries.
Pittsburgh may now look to promote Randy Fichtner if Arians is not retained as offensive coordinator.
Fichtner joined Tomlin's staff in 2007 as receivers coach and was promoted to quarterbacks coach following Ken Anderson's retirement.
The Steelers do not change much and may want to maintain some continuity with Fichtner. However, just because he is on the staff does not mean he will call the game the same way that Arians did.
Fichtner made his mark from 2001-2006 with the Memphis Tigers, where he instituted a spread offense and set offensive records.
Roethlisberger is taking Fichtner as a guest of his to the Pro Bowl and would likely approve of him as offensive coordinator.
Fichtner would be more familiar with the team's personnel and issues more than any other candidate and could be the favorite if the Steelers do not want any major changes, but rather, more of a fine-tuning of the offense.
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As of now, we have no idea what Arians and the Steelers will decide, but now more than ever, a change appears to be on the horizon. With that said, here are some questions to consider:
Do you hope that Arians doesn't return? If not, why would you want him back as offensive coordinator?
Which candidate did you like and why?
What other names would you like to consider?
What do you want the potentially new coordinator to bring to the Steelers offense?
Who will have the biggest influence on the new hire (if they do hire a new offensive coordinator): Art Rooney, Mike Tomlin or Ben Roethlisberger?
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