My Thoughts on LeBeau and Arians Returning in 2012

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Tim Tebow achieved a 15.0+ YPA and amassed over 300 yards passing, Image Courtesy of denverpost.com

On the heels of the MOST EMBARRASSING POSTSEASON LOSS in N.F.L. history, the Steelers have decided to keep their Coaching Staff as intact as humanly possible.
According to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, the Steelers will be bringing back Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians and Defensive Coordinator Dick LeBeau for the 2012 season.  Why the franchise was so quick to rush to sign these two in a such hurry is a move that I personally don’t understand.

In fact, I thought it would be a great idea to discuss why both of these guys (Arians moreso) may not have done enough in recent seasons to warrant their jobs back in 2012 in the first place.  So if you’re interested in what I have to say, or are just downright pissed at me, hit that “Continue Reading” button, and let’s get started.

Bruce Arians:

Arians finished his 5th season as O-Coordinator, Image Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

First off, let me say I almost wet my pants laughing when Jim Nantz and Phil Simms were discussing Head Coaching candidates that were O-Coordinators and wondering why Bruce Arians wasn’t on anybody’s radar.  The second after he said that I yelled at the top of my lungs: “Because Nobody Wants Game-Plans that are Drawn in Crayon!”

Don’t get me wrong, Bruce Arians gets the most criticism from everybody in Steeler Nation not named William Gay.  And I’ll admit, some of that criticism has been a tad too loud, and the Arains haters may not always be spot-on.  Yet 95% of the time when people take an objective view of the situation, Arians’ tenure in Pittsburgh has been nothing short of a disappointment.

Now after 5 years, I’m at the point where I can say that this is the “last straw,” I’m done with Bruce Arians.  I disliked the hire in 2007 (mostly because Ken Whisenhunt deserved the Head Coaching job, but that’s for another article), and I hate the hire just as much to this day.  I don’t care what Ben thinks about him and how many times he will inevitably “go to bat” for him, there are plenty of other O-Coordinators on the market that can do wonders with the personnel that Ben has at his disposal.

Steelers’ Offense Limped to the Barn in 2011:

I’ve printed my misgivings about Arians’ work in Pittsburgh too many times to count.  For the sake of brevity I won’t go into everything, but if you’re curious just click on the link and it will provide you with a list of some of Arians’ biggest follies.  For now, let’s just take a look at what has happened at the tail end of this 2011 season:

The strategy of putting Ben under center as many times as he did in the last three weeks was ludicrous.  Yeah, let’s just put our hobbled QB into 5 and 7 step drops against a Front 4 that can bring heat and a banged-up O-Line?!  Un-friggin-acceptable.

Personally, I was glad Phil Simms said something during the broadcast because I have been saying the same thing over-and-over again since that San Francisco game.  Draws and screens to Redman work well from the Shotgun, plus Ben would have extra time to throw if he wanted to chuck it upfield.

But no, not you Bruce.  You left Ben hanging out to dry in the 1st Half and left at least 10 points on the scoreboard.  Sure the drops were killer, but what the heck was with that slow as molasses 3rd and 7 screen to Wallace call on the first drive?!  Or having Ben throw side-line tear-drops with his bum foot and against Champ Bailey?  Or even having Ben throw deep balls when he was struggling with his accuracy?  Heck, why wasn’t Redman toting the rock more in the 1st Half?!

Furthermore, what was with even playing Big Ben with his injury anyway at the end of the season (On Tomlin as well with Arians)?!  Batch has proven time and again over his tenure that he can manage a game appropriately and win.  But oh no, you just had to throw your hobbled QB in games against “Offensive Juggernauts” such as San Francisco and Cleveland?!  Dude could have been injured more in games that Batch could have kept the score close with some solid game management and a commitment to the run game.

I know, I know we could play the “What If” game all we want, but this was a question of pure logic at the time.  San Fran., St. Louis, and Cleveland: all teams that have trouble scoring points.  Inserting Batch would have meant that each game would have been managed and been in good-hands with a veteran QB that makes little to no mistakes.  The Steelers’ Offense could have undoubtedly scored 17 points or more with this strategy and allowed their Pro Bowl QB to heal in the process.

Granted, the Division was on the line, but what good is going into the Playoffs with your Pro Bowl QB hobbled?  As we have seen over the last decade, it is teams that are healthy at the QB position that will win championships.  Not what seed they are entering the postseason.  If Ben wasn’t limping around, that Denver game could have been won in the 1st Quarter.  And after the complete and total exploitation of New England’s Pass Defense in Week 8, the Steelers would have had a fighting chance next week too with a healthy Big Ben!

Arians’ Offense in Seasons Past:

How mediocrity such as this could be championed, let alone tolerated, for half a decade baffles me to no end.  The statistics which really chap my hide are the Red Zone numbers though.  Sure we can drone on and on about the “sexy stats” like Ben going over 4,000 yards passing or having 1,000 yard rushers and receivers, but the simple fact of the matter is this: 7′s must go on the board, not 3′s!  Had one of those 3′s been 7′s on Sunday, this article would likely be about whether or not Dick LeBeau would be employing a press scheme against New England again.  And a lot of the blame for the lack of scoring in the Red Zone has to be shouldered by the guy calling the plays.

Arians’ Offense has never been ranked higher than 14th in Red Zone TD% since 2008.  Let me repeat: No higher than 14th!  With the weapons that this team had this season, they ranked 18th in the League and only scored a TD on 50.91% of their trips into the Red Zone.  Sure it’s nice for the team to gobble up yards at will and set team records, but what do team records matter when there is no discipline in play-calling and no discipline amongst the players when the team advances inside the opposition’s 20 yard line.

The points per game average for Pittsburgh reflects this mediocre trend also.  The Steelers scored only 20.5 points per game this season which put them tied for 21st in the N.F.L..  That’s right, an Offense with a Pro Bowl QB, two Pro Bowl WR’s and a third that’s a Hall of Famer, a Pro Bowl TE, and two RB’s that are competent in the run and pass games scored under 21 points per game.  Granted the O-Line should shoulder part of this blame, but not all of it.  Was it the O-Line’s fault that sent Mendenhall up the gut 4 straight times against the Browns and gave no illusion of craftiness or deception with the play-calling?  I didn’t think so.  Was it the O-Line’s fault that Miller, Johnson, and Saunders became invisible in the Red Zone due to play-calling?  I didn’t think so.  And don’t think this is a one-time thing either.  Pittsburgh’s Offense has never averaged more than 23.9 points per game in any season since 2008.

Let’s be honest here.  In the Steelers almost 80 year history, only the Offenses of the 1970′s have had the caliber of talent that this Steeler Offense has today.  The amount of weapons that Ben has at his disposal are at an all time high and in terms of play-calling and actual statistics (Red Zone TD Percentage, etc.), the Steelers aren’t cutting the mustard like they should be.

It’s finally time to cut ties with Arians and bring somebody else in that can resuscitate life into this sleeping giant of an Offense now.  I personally have no preference who it is, as long as they have proven at an N.F.L. level that they can call plays and run an Offense effectively.  It honestly makes no difference to me.  I just would like to not be constantly depressed when I watch this Offense underachieve like it has over the last 3 seasons.

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