FanDuel - WFBC

January 21, 2012

Whether he retired or was fired, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is officially no longer with the Pittsburgh Steelers: Despite a second straight 12-4 season, two 1,000 yard receivers, and a running game that averaged 4.4 yards per carry, Arians is out. Now the speculation begins about who will replace Ben Roethlisberger's favorite coach. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette sports writer, Gerry Dulac, writes that since running back coach Kirby Wilson was badly burned in a house fire earlier this month, he is unlikely to be able to take the position as had been expected. So will the Steelers look outside the organization for only the 3rd time since 1969 or will they promote from within? Perhaps current quarterback's coach Randy Fichtner?

posted by scully to football at 08:36 AM - 19 comments

Seems like a big loss for the Steelers. I blame their playoff exit more on injuries than anything else.

posted by rcade at 02:11 PM on January 21

This could be good for the Panthers. Maybe Arians will be more attractive than Chud to all the other teams searching for a new o-coordinator.

posted by NoMich at 02:27 PM on January 21

I have to agree, rcade.

posted by scully at 03:53 PM on January 21

I blame their playoff exit more on injuries than anything else.

I disagree. Every team has injuries, and though perhaps the Steelers had more than their share, there's no way they should have lost to Denver.

The blame in my opinion goes straight to the defense (and defensive game plan). The Broncos scored 10 points against the patriots. No way should they have scored 29 on the Steelers.

posted by justgary at 05:32 PM on January 21

They lost their starting nose tackle, Casey Hampton, and starting defensive end, Brett Keisel, in the first half. How does that not make it a challenge to beat any team in the playoffs?

They were missing their best cornerback in, Ryan Clark, because of sickle cell trait.

They played without their starting (Pro Bowl, whatever that means) center their first string running back too.

And that's just off the top of my head. They also had a make-shift front line where guards were playing tackle and tackles were playing center, etc, etc.

Oh, did I mention Ben Roethlisberger could barely stand on a high ankle sprain?

Once they got to the over time it was all down to Ike Turner blowing the tackle with a weak effort, but I still say a healthy Steelers would have been playing the Patriots last week.

posted by scully at 06:06 PM on January 21

Once they got to the over time it was all down to Ike Turner blowing the tackle with a weak effort, but I still say a healthy Steelers would have been playing the Patriots last week.

A healthy Steelers team would first have had to make it past the healthy Chiefs, AFC West champions.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 06:34 PM on January 21

They already had ... barely.

posted by scully at 07:37 PM on January 21

They already had ... barely.

But they would have had to do it again, for exactly the same reason they had to play the Broncos: 5th seed plays 4th seed in the wildcard round.

posted by lil_brown_bat at 07:47 PM on January 21

Oh, did I mention Ben Roethlisberger could barely stand on a high ankle sprain?

The Broncos had injuries also, so we're not talking about a healthy team against an injured team. But even if we take into account the Steeler injuries:

- The previous game Tebow was 6 for 22 for 60 yards (2.7 average) with 0 touchdowns, 1 interception, and a fumble lost. His quarterback ratting was 20.6.

- The game after the Steeler loss Tebow was 9 for 26 for 136 yards (5.2 average) with 0 touchdowns (most of his yards were when the game was already a blow out) and a fumble lost. His quarterback rating was 52.7.

Against the Steelers Tebow threw for 316 yards for an average of 15.0 yards per pass with 2 touchdowns and 0 turnovers. The broncos were the second to last worst passing team in the league during the regular season, and somehow the Steelers turned him into a less accurate Drew Brees.

Would a healthy Steelers team beat the Broncos? Sure. I'm not denying that. But I don't think you can point to injuries as the only reason for the defeat. 23 points should have been enough to win that game. It was a defensive meltdown, a game plan that didn't work and bizarrely carried into overtime that sent the Steelers home.

posted by justgary at 08:31 PM on January 21

They already had ... barely.

A healthy Chiefs team has Cassel, Charles, and Berry playing. More importantly, it means Tyler Palko isn't allowed anywhere near a football.

posted by Ying Yang Mafia at 09:42 PM on January 21

Steelers' loss. Their strength has never been their offence, and it wasn't the coach who didn't make plays. Their defence sucked liked I've never seen in that Denver game ... execution was horrendous and play calling was questionable.

posted by cixelsyd at 10:22 PM on January 21

Tebow threw for 316 yards for an average of 15.0 yards per pass with 2 touchdowns and 0 turnovers.

Again, I point to the fact that 2 out of 3 of the down lineman in the 3-4 defense were injured in the first half (one of them in the second possession). That has to mean something. Tomlin says "the standard is the standard" but that only goes so far. And the Steelers leader in tackles, cornerback Ryan Clark, could not play in the high altitudes of Denver because of Sickle Cell trait. I left out that Woodley was also injured and he was their sack leader. That could also have contributed to Tebow's career day.

I don't follow the Broncos so was not familiar with their injuries. If they were playing with as many as the Steelers then bully for them. I read that Tebow was playing with injured ribs and a lung problem, but after the fact. They very easily could have said he was playing with a amputated leg and the other with gout, but he had a deity on his side, remember?

As for those saying they should have played the Chiefs, I would say the AFC West should have had to give up their playoff spot. ;)

All-in-all, the Steelers didn't get it done. Two of their four losses were to an eventual AFC Championship representative. The first loss in the opening game by a big margin, making the hole to climb out of a challenge. And even though they were 12-4 they had to play away from home against a team that was 8-8. See above. It's unfortunate that is way the playoffs work. But it happened. Oh well.

I look forward to seeing who they hire as their next offensive coordinator.

posted by scully at 07:49 AM on January 22

Again, I point to the fact that 2 out of 3 of the down lineman in the 3-4 defense were injured in the first half (one of them in the second possession).

Eh, we're going in circles. So I'll just summarize and bail. :)

I have no doubt a completely healthy Steeler team beats the Broncos. However, because injuries affect every team, and every team played the same amount of games, I think of injuries as just part of the game. And I think blaming the loss on injuries, as rcade did, is shortsighted.

I look at the game and ask 'could the Steelers have won the game, should the Steelers have won the game with the players they put on the field', and I have no doubt they could and should have.

I think it was put here perfectly:

Tebow made the plays he had to make against Pittsburgh. The Steelers' defensive game plan wasn't necessarily a bad one to begin with. Their ultimate undoing was failing to adjust it at any stage in the game even when it became clear that Tebow was hitting the passes they were banking on him being unable to make. Prior to that game, Tebow had shown very little to suggest he could make enough of those throws to get the win even if a team sold out against the run and the option attack and presented the deep shots to him. New England is unlikely to attack Tebow in the same way, but rather sit back in coverage and keep everything in front of them. This time they will dare Tebow to be accurate in order to move the chains and avoid game-changing mistakes.

The Steelers knew the personnel they had coming into the game and decided to dare Tebow to beat them. Whether it was because of injuries or a lack of execution, it didn't work, and the Steelers make no adjustments, even into overtime.

The difference in Tebow in every other game and against the Steelers wasn't because of the talent on the field. He was terrible against almost every team. It was because of a game plan the Steelers stuck to when it was clearly apparent it wasn't working.

Even against the Steelers, injuries and all, Tebow hit less than 50 percent of his passes. He was the same quarterback he was all year. But they gave him the long ball and it killed them. If the Steelers had simply sat back in coverage like the Patriots, and made Tebow, inaccurate as ever, hit pass after pass instead of a couple of bombs, chances are they move on.

It was a stunning mistake by the Steelers. To lose to the Broncos took some inept coaching from the defensive side, despite the offensive coordinator losing his job.

posted by justgary at 06:33 PM on January 22

The Steelers never changed their game plan and did not make adjustments. That is what hurt most. Hampton and Keisel going down was huge because they usually play a 5 man rotationm and could not do that. also in the altitude, they would have subbed in and out even more. The Steelers dared Tebow to beat them, and he did. Clark was also not there to bail out the corners. The Steelers are famous for making zero half time adjustments they showed it again.

posted by Debo270 at 08:46 AM on January 23

Have to lay the blame squarely on the defense for the Steelers exit against Denver. To be more exact and a lot more fair, I have to let the Secondary shoulder about 95% of the blame...Coaching staff gets the other 5%. The beat up D line and the linebackers played the game plan out pretty well. They filled gaps, stayed at home and forced Tebow, for the most part, to stay in the backfield and beat them with his arm. Had the Secondary played tight man coverage like they were supposed to AND HAD to, the outcome would have been much different. That's what it takes to beat Tim Tebow and the Broncos. You CANNOT let him out of the backfield to beat you with his legs and if you cover his receivers with tight man coverage he will throw picks or errant incompletions. The Steelers Secondary allowed big cushions on his receivers and he made enough of the throws he needed to make. Unless Elway gets Tebow lined out and throwing better during the off-season, Denver is going to need a QB or have a really bad year next season.

posted by fyredawgb at 11:03 AM on January 23

Tebow threw for 316 yards on less than 50% completion rate and 80 of those 316 came on the final play of the game. Again...too big a cushion allowed by the secondary, 4 yard pass, 76 yard run, game over.

posted by fyredawgb at 11:07 AM on January 23

too big a cushion allowed by the secondary, 4 yard pass, 76 yard run, game over.

But that was one play. Most of the long passes were actually long passes, which means a cushion should have worked.

Had the Secondary played tight man coverage like they were supposed to

I disagree. The Steelers got almost no pressure on Tebow, which put pressure on the corner backs. And even if the defensive couches thought they could stop Denver with no pressure on Tebow, at what point in the game did they not realize it wasn't working? At no point did the say 'we're getting no pressure, he's beating us deep, we need to change'. Bizarre.

posted by justgary at 01:34 PM on January 23

The Steelers got almost no pressure on Tebow,

because they had 2 of 3 D-line starters on the bench with injuries. that is where the injuries hurt. No pressure.

posted by Debo270 at 02:48 PM on January 23

because they had 2 of 3 D-line starters on the bench with injuries. that is where the injuries hurt. No pressure.

Agreed. Which is why the game plan should have changed.

posted by justgary at 03:29 PM on January 23

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