Does anybody happen to have the telephone number for Mr. Peabody?
If so, please give him a call. It looks like Bruce Arians has stolen the extra set of keys to the Wayback Machine and is taking his coffee breaks and timeouts back in the 2009 season.
And it looks like he takes Dick Lebeau with him sometimes.
Second half against Baltimore, third down, 4 yards to go. Does Bruce call for a slant pass to Hines Ward or Heath Miller, or some other high-percentage pass? No. With a running back averaging 4.6 yards per carry, does he put that running back in the backfield and call for play-action or an off-tackle slash that had been mostly successful to that point in the season? No.
What does he do? He calls for a 30+ yard pass into the end zone. A low-percentage play, which, of course, fails.
Does Bruce think that it is a better idea to get the first down to continue the drive? No, he would rather have Jeff Reed attempt a long field goal, which he then missed.
And then, of course, there was that pure lunacy of not even trying to get a single first down that would have allowed the Steelers to run out the clock and win the game.
First half against Miami, less than two minutes remaining, the offense has just quickly moved the ball into position to have a possible chance to score a touchdown or at the least have a good chance to attempt a field goal.
Does Bruce call for the same tactics that had Miami on its heels and nearly down and out? No. He makes what is probably the single most idiotic play call this season, and maybe in the last two seasons, resulting in a ten-yard loss and nearly a turnover.
And in the process killed all of the Steelers' momentum, and allowed Miami to get back in the game.
First half against New Orleans, first and goal at the 1 yard line. What does our offensive Einstein do? He squeezes the entire offense (and thereby, the entire New Orleans defense) into a six or seven yard spread, and then runs three off-tackle plunges which fail. The play that he ALWAYS calls in that situation. The same play that EVERY COACH IN THE LEAGUE knows that he is going to call in that situation. The same play that didn't work three years ago, didn't work two years ago, and didn't work last year. And he thinks that it will work this year?
What happened to "running the ball more effectively this season"? Or does that concept apply only when Ben Roethlisberger isn't playing?
Meanwhile, for the entire game, New Orleans is stacking the line of scrimmage with seven or eight men and blitzing the daylights out of the offense. Does Arians think of calling any quick-hitting plays that avoid the blitz? Or using play-action or rolling out the quarterback to neutralize the line backers? Or using any kind of misdirection at all? Like maybe short quick passes to running backs, tight ends, or slanting wide receivers, a la Tom Brady or Drew Brees?
You know, exactly what his New Orleans counterpart had Drew Brees do for the entire game?
Of course not. So Ben and the offense is under fire the entire game, resulting in a nearly ineffective passing game, and a running game that would have been even worse than the passing game, save for a marvelous run by one R. Mendenhall and a couple of nice runs for double-digit yardage by the supporting cast.
During Ben's time in the NFL doghouse, while the offense wasn't spectacular, it was balanced and the running game was surprisingly successful. The play-calling and the design of the plays was a refreshing change from the same predictable tactics of last season.
Since Ben's return, however, I see an increasing tendency toward the same questionable strategy and tactics that made the Steelers one of the worst teams in the red zone last season. A disturbing trend, indeed.
And lest we think that Arians is the sole culprit in the less-than-spectacular play of recent weeks, I think Dick Lebeau must bear some responsibility as well.
What did Hall of Fame quarterback Y.A. Tittle once say? Give him enough time to throw, and he'll find somebody open and get the ball to him, regardless of the number of defensive backs on the field.
Did Lebeau think that putting LESS pressure on Drew Brees, Chad Henne and Colt McCoy would give them less time to find open receivers?
Does Lebeau think that playing MORE zone defense would cause the secondary to play better than last season's questionable zone defense?
Does Lebeau think that a pass rush from the outside gets to the quarterback more quickly, and makes it harder for the quarterback to see downfield, than rushing up the middle?
Taking those things into consideration, it isn't so surprising that the Steelers' pass defense so far this season is ranked even lower than last season's underperforming pass defense. Thank goodness for that wonderful run defense.
Well, as we all know, win or lose, Steeler Nation's favorite pastime is freaking out about our favorite team, so a maybe a little freaking is in order, if only for fun's sake.
It's not time to panic just yet, though, and I still have confidence that Lebeau will return the defense to its customary place among the top defenses of the league.
As for Arians, well, somebody, anybody, PLEASE, find the Steelers playbook and tear out the page that has that #@$%!$@ wide-receiver screen on it!!!
And tell Mr. Peabody to fire up the Wayback Machine, take the extra keys away from Bruce, and send him back to the age of the dinosaurs. Preferably to the Yucatan Peninsula. Just a few moments before the meteor hits.