Pittsburgh Steelers: Move to Colts Reveals OC Bruce Arians Was Fired Not Retired

Matt Simon@@MattSimonDotComContributor IIIJanuary 29, 2012

Pittsburgh Steelers wide receivers coach Bruce Arians during a game against the Cleveland Browns at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on November 13th, 2005. The Steelers defeated the Browns 34 to 21. (Photo by Michael Fabus/NFLPhotoLibrary)
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Bruce Arians was effectively fired. He didn’t retire. For any black and gold fan out there wondering about the veracity of reports that Arians drifted happily into retirement, look no further than exhibit A, at the site of Super Bowl XLVI in Indianapolis. 

According to ESPN NFL Insider Adam Schefter, Arians was hired on Saturday to become the new Indianapolis Colts’ offensive coordinator. He’s scheduled to arrive in the Hoosier state capitol on Monday to look over and sign his contract. Whether it's called "redundancy measures" like the Brits do, "forced resignation", restructuring, or not renewing a contract, it's all pretty much the same thing.  

Some have suggested it was team president Art Rooney II who felt Arians’ pass-first philosophy was too much for the Steelers’ rough and tumble running DNA. Mr. Rooney intimated as much during a video interview released on the team’s website, Steelers.com, where he alluded to an alternative ending to the Arians-Steelers mythology where the offensive coordinator had retired. 

I think the questions of how we got here are not really relevant. Mike has begun the search for our next offensive coordinator and he'll do a good job finding the right person. We'll go through the process and interview the right candidates. We're looking to improve on offense and have somebody possibly to be in place for a number of years.

Though Coach Tomlin’s draft history has been stellar, his coaching filter will be tested for the first time. When joining the Steelers on January 22, 2007, Tomlin retained both offensive and defensive coordinators. 

GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23:  Quarterbacks Charlie Batch #16, Byron Leftwich, and Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers talk with offensive co-ordinator Bruce Arians (C) during their game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Sta
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With an offensive line perpetually in flux and a starting running back recovering from knee surgery, the upcoming season promises to be a real test for Tomlin’s Steelers, who are aging on on both sides of the ball.

The Steelers will have to make some hard choices at the quarterback position both in personnel and system. In addition to most likely losing spider-like backup Dennis Dixon, who has expressed his desire to be at least a No. 2 QB on a team, both Charlie Batch and Byron Leftwich, who have been peacefully battling for Steelers backup QB for what seems like a decade, are free agents. 

This year the Steelers finished 12-4 in the regular season and became the first team in the NFL to win at least 12 games in three of the last four campaigns.

Arians coached what many consider to be the best receiving corps in the NFL with a dynamic young group of sure-handed speedsters mentored by all-time great Hines Ward, who broke 1,000 catches and 12,000 yards receiving this year. Still, the offense finished the season with a loss in Denver as the 10th-rated passing team averaging 353.4 yards per game and 14th in rushing yards with 118.9 yards per game. 

"Bruce had talked about retirement for a few years now. I think it was time for a change, and we're looking forward to moving on," Rooney also said.

Where the Steelers go is more in question now than in the last five years. 

With so many people averse to Arian’s departure, including Coach Tomlin and and starting Pro Bowl quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, the choice of who follows Arians will be all the more important.