Bruce Arians, Scapegoat or Just Not What Steeler Fans Want

Matt SContributor IJanuary 10, 2010

LATROBE, PA - AUGUST 8: Bruce Arians, offensive Coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, talks with Hines Ward #86 during training camp at St. Vincent College on August 8, 2007 in Latrobe, Pennsylvania.  (Photo By Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

There’s a belief that every play that fails is the result of bad play calling.  You can be an Offensive guru and make millions calling plays. Here’s the secret formula, you just have to use it after the play is over:

If the running play fails, it should have been a pass. If a pass is incomplete or intercepted, any idiot knows they should have run the ball.  If a double reverse gains 40 yards, it’s imaginative play calling. If the same play gets stopped for a loss, it’s a worthless gimmick called by a coordinator who should have stuck to basics.  

When you see an Offensive Lineman standing next to the Quarterback who’s just been sacked for a five-yard loss, that may have less to do with the play called than it does with the lineman’s inability to execute his block.  

But naturally, that never would have happened if the stupid coordinator had called a run play.  The path from a play called to the final result depends on a lot of variables.  Are there bad choices of plays during NFL games? Of course there are.  But it’s doubtful there are as many as some people think there are.  Sometimes players just don’t execute.

This year, the Steelers’ Offense made team history.  Never before have the Steelers had a 4,000 yard passer, two 1,000 yard receivers, and a 1,000 yard running back.

Miller even set a team record for most catches in a season by a TE (76).  It can be argued that the Steelers didn’t score enough despite those prolific individual statistics and a No. 7 ranking in the NFL in total yards.

With 38 Offensive TDs, they ranked 14th in the league. 

But was this lack of point production due to poor play calling or poor execution?  That is debatable but the fact remains, our point production was down this year even with the increase in offensive production. 

There is no doubt in my mind we need to make a few changes with the Offense but a complete over haul including the firing of Arians isn’t justified just yet.  Now, if the isn’t improvement in point production next year, I may just be beating the fire Arians drum as so many are now.

Brian F. said, “Tomlin would have looked foolish, and would have been foolish, to dismantle a team and coaching staff that won a Super Bowl just a year earlier under Bill Cowher.” 

The same holds true to this year.  Just eleven months ago we were all chest bumping and high fiving because we won the Super Bowl for the sixth time.  Who was calling that game?  Correct me if I’m wrong but was it not Arians?  And we won because the Offense executed the plays called. 

We can’t say the same thing this year.  The offense was not executing as they did last year.  Not because of the play calling though.  Had Holmes and Sweed held on to wide open would be touchdown passes in losses to Chicago and Cincinnati early in the year, the Steelers would have made the playoffs and we wouldn’t even be discussing Arians’ fate right now.  

I see no reason why the Steelers would fire Arians. Although I do agree we need a major upgrade with our Red Zone scoring ability next year.  Still, the Offense wasn’t the main problem for the Steelers’ missing the playoffs this year, the Defense was. 

What I can’t seem to figure out is why all the Arians haters aren’t calling for LeBeau’s head.  Our defense finished fifth in the NFL in total defense and allowed 20.2 points per game which finished at 12th.

Not what Steeler fans are used to seeing, but better than most teams. Most fans would love for their team to finish fifth in total defense.  What Brian F. said about the Offense also holds true with the Defense, “So what?” 

12th in points allowed by the Defense is the real reason our team failed this year. 

I’d rather be 12th in overall Defense but fourth in points allowed and I’m sure of you would agree with that.  The Steelers' Special Teams coverage units were the worst in years. We gave up the most TD returns and teams too often started on our side of the field which is a great burden on our Defense. 

The secondary coverage was just as bad, one of the worse I’ve seen in years.  Teams salivated at the chance to throw against us.  They knew it’s not often they get a chance to throw for over 300 yards against the Steelers vaunted Defense but this year many did.

I like the loyalty the Rooney’s have in their support of their coaches including Tomlin.  I like the loyalty Tomlin has with Arians and LeBeau.  Too many in today’s society demand instant success and immediately call for the firing of a coach or coordinator when their team doesn’t meet expectations.  

We’ve been lucky to only have three coaches in the last forty years.  The Rooney’s are really good at choosing our coaches and allowing them to run the team they see fit.  It took Coach Cowher 12 years to win his first Super Bowl and Coach Noll five.  Coach Tomlin won it in only three years. 

The key components of last year’s Super Bowl Champions are still intact.  I think that a few changes are in order starting with the Special Teams, the Secondary, and Red Zone Offense.  Let’s not forget the injuries to some key players this year that we didn’t have last year too, mainly Troy and Smith.  With those two out we were losing the close games that we were winning last year. 

Coach Tomlin has made his choice with keeping Arians and LeBeau.  Now, let's support his decision and hope he turns things around bringing the Steelers back the Championship standards we expect.   

Even if this is to happen, I think the hate for Arians many Steeler fans have for him is too strong for him to be accepted.  We could win the Super Bowl next year with almost perfect Offensive performances all season long and his haters will say it was the players performances that really led to the success and not Arians.  Anyway you look at it, that’s not fair to him, Tomlin or the Rooney’s.