Ben Roethlisberger, Bruce Arians to Blame for Pittsburgh Steelers' so-so Start

Chris GazzeCorrespondent IOctober 18, 2011

PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 16:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers looks on from the sideline while playing theJacksonville Jaguars at Heinz Field on October 16, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Pittsburgh won the game 17-13. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

It was too good to be true. There was no way that the Pittsburgh Steelers were changing their offensive scheme from looking for the big play to a more conservative approach.

They ran quick routes and used their speed at receiver. Ben Roethlisberger found his tight ends and running backs when under pressure. There was a balanced rushing attack.

Basically, Bruce Arians’ preseason offense was the offense that fans have been calling for. In typical Bruce Arians style, however, they went away from it as soon as the season began.

What appeared to be an offense that could set team records has stumbled and has held the team back.

Sure you could blame the defense for not being up to par against the run, but then again, teams are not passing on them. You could also cite the lack of forced turnovers, but it is the offense that has severely underachieved.

Roethlisberger had the best training camp of his career and looked outstanding in the preseason. Pittsburgh had found the perfect balance for him on offense, a balance that could maximize the talent on that side of the ball.

But as the regular season came along, the Steelers fell back into their old ways. All of a sudden that short, quick passing game was gone and the big play was back.

The end result was not good, as the game plan played into the Steelers weaknesses.

Pittsburgh’s offensive line could not protect Roethlisberger, and even when they did, he held onto the ball too long waiting for a big play to open. All of those designs to throw to his outlet seemed as though they never existed.

The Steelers stumbled out of the gate in part due to Roethlisberger. He turned the ball over like it was his job.

Just six weeks into the season, he already has six interceptions compared to five in 12 games last season. Roethlisberger also has five fumbles, while he only had four last year.

There appeared to be a philosophical switch against the Tennessee Titans.

Arians changed his plan and Roethlisberger his style of play, as the Steelers efficiently moved the ball down the field with the pass and the run.

A decent ground attack and an effective short passing game set up the big play in the passing game. That is how an offensive game plan should work.

Roethlisberger threw for five touchdowns and looked, at times, unstoppable.

This carried over to last week, when Roethlisberger started out 8-for-9 passing behind Arians' quick hit offensive attack and commitment to the run.

Then something happened, and they both decided to go away from what worked to what didn’t.

Pittsburgh nearly blew the game, as they tried to throw the ball long on a blustery day.

Granted, players were open and Roethlisberger overthrew them, and Arians should be given credit for designing plays that should have worked.

However, they were not working, yet they continued to go to them. Rather than getting his quarterback comfortable again, Arians had receivers running deep routes and got Roethlisberger in the deep throw mindset.

PITTSBURGH, PA - JANUARY 23:  Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers talks to offensive coordinator Bruce Arians during their 2011 AFC Championship game against the New York Jets at Heinz Field on January 23, 2011 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania.  (
Gregory Shamus/Getty Images

Arians needs to get back to what works and Roethlisberger needs to take what the defense gives him and quit trying to force the big play.

It has cost the team a number of turnovers, scoring opportunities and even wins.

This team can get back into the AFC elite, but it will only come from the play calling of Arians and the arm of Roethlisberger.


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