Ben Roethlisberger has made his perspective on recent events—including the "retirement" of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians—very clear. Much to his surprise and possible chagrin, though he has not used that terminology, he will be working with a new O-coordinator for the first time since Ken Whisenhunt left Pittsburgh, PA to create semi-half-decent-to-great-at-least-initially-and-perhaps-beyond-but-probably-not-since-Kurt-Warner-retired-two-years-ago Pittsburgh, AZ.
Who can blame the team, provided that the decision was not exclusively the choice of Arians, for desiring a new direction? With so much talent on the field and a franchise quarterback at the helm, there was never any excuse for never eclipsing a rank of 14th in red-zone touchdown efficiency. Further, finishing 21st in the NFL with 20.5 points per game was unacceptable for a team whose talents should correlate with a better outcome.
Over the last few days, the team has seen Jim Caldwell and Todd Haley, both of whom are connected to offenses that feature(d) great quarterbacks, such as Peyton Manning and Kurt Warner, and the passing game as a primary form of attack. Strange choices for a team that wants to go run heavy, so all of thus phobic of an offense approach resembling the late 70's can reeee-lax!
Art Rooney II mentioned he wanted Big Ben to "tweak" his play, while also mildly suggesting offensive change was necessary. With the notion of the Steelers' "old style" of play circling through the social networks, many panicked:
"But, our team is build around the quarterback! And, with such great receivers, we can't go running the ball on every down!"
To which one could easily respond, "Opposed to what? Passing 40 times along the whipping winds off of Lake Erie? Or against the Broncos, despite the quarterback's bum ankle and the primary back's seven yards per carry average?"
When the running game works, it cannot become the second option simply by philosophy, no matter the talent on the field or the vanity of the quarterback. This is not to suggest that the team should throwback their approach in an era of football obviously dominated by the air.
Clearly, considering the nature of the candidates being considered, the notion of going to a rudimentary single-back offense, absurd even in this intentional exaggeration, is not close to the direction being referenced.
First, a running game is very important, and it does need to improve drastically in Pittsburgh. Running sets up the pass AND vice versa, but never has the former been more evident that it was in 2011. The Steelers best running effort with Roethlisberger at the helm came against the Titans; in that game, No. 7 finished with five passing touchdowns.
Play action is a bee-yotch to defend!
Further, as Big Ben's play is concerned, it does need "tweaking," opposed to change. Due to his production, change would be foolhardy. Because of his recent injuries, not tweaking would be equally silly. The next coordinator will be tasked with this goal, make no mistake.
Ben's willingness to extend plays, never giving up even in the most dire situations, had yielded great results...much of the time. In fact, his ability to throw on the run to receivers that adjust their routes in accordance to his style is one of the single biggest factors in his bulky average yards per career pass attempt.
However, with Roethlisberger entering his prime and the Super Bowl window open right now (hopefully), his health is vital to the team's ability to earn a seventh Lombardi Trophy. The ability to focus on a more rhythmic approach to the passing game, without entirely foregoing his playmaking outside of the pocket, will only help Ben to have a healthier, longer and more productive career.
Otherwise, in a future that sees him being stubbornly unwilling to resign to the next down or the check down, Ben's ankle hasn't seen its last twist.