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What Type of Changes Await the Steelers?

Mike Lombardi of the National Football Post seems to think that the pass happy Steelers will have some changes coming in the offseason:

With the Steelers all but eliminated from the playoffs, there’s a sense in the organization that there will be some changes to the coaching staff — more on offense than defense, according to sources I’ve talked to. There is unhappiness with the lack of commitment to the run game, along with a sense of leadership coming from the offensive side. Too many players have their own agendas and not enough of a team concept. There’s a problem among the players, and the Hines Ward/Ben Roethlisberger problem has not gone away despite the Ward apology. Expect changes.

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. mark

    December 13, 2009 at 3:58 pm

    We know the O-line coach is a goner, but is it possible that Arians is gone too? Maybe they go with Charlie Batch or Ken Anderson if Batch isnt quite ready to coach? Team concept or not, Ben is still the franchise and his ego is as large as Wards. I love them both but Ben has more in the tank than Ward at this point and keeping him happy might carry more weight. Steelers may have internal problems but this is up to Tomlin to fix. FAST!

  2. Derek

    December 13, 2009 at 6:14 pm

    O-line needs to be totally rebuilt espeacially that kimeuato dude cause hes the main probablem with all his penaltys and sacks hes allowed…all and all though i was really let down this year. i was expected a repeat let alone the playoffs. oh well always next year, i guess

  3. jay

    December 13, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    There are 32 teams in the NFL…26 of them boast at least one first round offensive lineman (if you include teams with 1st rounders on IR such as Walter Jones in Seattle, Shawn Andrews in Philly, Robert Gallery in Oakland)….five of the remaining six; Indy, Tenn, S.D., N.Y. G & G.B. have at least a second rounder on their O-Line. WE are the only team in the league with NO FIRST or SECOND round offensive lineman…but wait, there’s more….One of the ONLY things that separates high round draft pick o-lineman (i.e., 1st & 2nd) from later rounders (i.e., 3rd or beyond) is the ability to, as NFL Network’s Jamie Dukes phrases it, “dance” or, more aptly put, pass block. Road graders could be had in later rounds and you could build a defensive team SO LONG as your team/organizational philosophy is run the ball and play defense, albeit, at the very worst, run a balanced attack and play defense; ala Bill Cowher in the 1990’s and early 2000’s. Correct me if I’m wrong but I believe in his 15 years as head coach he took Leon Searcy, Allan Fancea and Kendall Simmons (3 linemen)—someone look up Brendan Stai for me; not sure what round he went in. My point is, if you’re the only team in the league without a 1st or 2nd round draft pick on the o-line, then you’re probably the only team in the league without an adept pass blocker. If you’re the only team in the league without an adept pass blocker, conventional wisdom will tell you that you might want to play to your strengths and run the ball. WHY does Arians insist on throwing it. This is football 101, not, showcase your talents (or lack thereof) so that you can seem to rise above the “mediocre” pack as an “innovative” offensive coach and thus be awarded a head coaching gig somewhere! (Which, by the way, I opine is one of the reasons we see such a pass happy NFL…Noone [i.e., GM’s] cares if you can run the ball…BUT IF YOU CAN PASS, WHOA-HO-HO! NOW YOU CAN GO PLACES. And coordinators know this. So they trade in their selfless team-oriented philosophies in exchange for selfish, “look what I can do that’s trendy, mom!”). Anyway, I was watching highlights of the Steelers Browns 2002 playoff game on NFL Network where the Steelers came back on ARIANS’ offensively coordinated Browns. The Browns offense looked identical to our current offense; trips, bunch, run left, right, up the middle, deep routes, etc. DO YA THINK THE NFL, WITH 7 YEARS, HAS HAD ENOUGH TIME TO FIGURE HIM OUT YET!?! I know we need defense but it would be nice, this offseason to do one of two things; either switch back to a run first philosophy so we can get the necessary players on defense OR DRAFT A FIRST ROUND OFFENSIVE LINEMAN SO WE CAN JOIN THE OTHER LIKE 85% OF THE LEAGUE! No matter which scenario plays out, an understood given should prevail and that is, on three everyone, 1, 2, 3…FIRE ARIANS!!!!!!

    • Dirk

      December 15, 2009 at 11:32 am

      nuff said dude, let it rock

  4. jay

    December 13, 2009 at 7:43 pm

    Oh yeah, on my last post: BOO-YAH to offensive line research!

    • Brian

      December 14, 2009 at 9:41 pm

      Cowher also drafted Jamain Stephens in the first round, the same year they traded for Bettis. Stephens ended up getting cut a year or two later as he was a bust. Brendan Stai was a third round pick.

  5. mark

    December 13, 2009 at 7:51 pm

    Hey Jay, I want Arians to be gone as much as anyone. Im just afraid that Tomlin is comfortable with a coach that his franchise QB is in love with. Will Tomlin “rock-the-boat”? I would love to see the team go back to run game as the primary weapon. Foster,Morris,Bettis,hell even Staley and Fu were going to run the ball first and set up the 3rd and short for whoever was QB at the time. The Steelers had too much success in the last 15 years( not to mention the 1970’s!) to not start second guessing the current philosophy on offense.

  6. jay

    December 13, 2009 at 8:03 pm

    I agree, Mark, straight up…straight the fuck up!

  7. Mike

    December 13, 2009 at 8:06 pm

    I for one do not want to see the Steelers go back to the run the ball 60% of the time philosophy. I want to see them be 50-50. They picked Mendenhall and Sweed, 1 and 2 in the draft. Sweed can’t catch and we under utilize 34. How much better off would this team be if they had used those picks on offensive linemen? Why spend a first round pick on a RB and then not feature him or at least use him 10-15 percent more than they have? I have nothing against Arians as a play caller. My issue is the way they prepare and game plan. There is not a situation that arises in a game that a coaching staff has nto contemplated. So when we get into 3rd and short or goal to go situations, Arians preperation and plan all week has been to be a finess team, whether with the run or pass. TOmlin needs to step in and mandate the offense comes up with a better plan from week to week. Especially in the situation football that he preaches each week. Arians does a nice job i think between the 20’s but in the redzone and goal to go, along with short yardage, he relies too much on misdirection, and finess play calling which causes the hit or miss inconsistencies of this team.

    I just hope the rumored rifts in the locker room are not as bad as it sounds. We have a lot of talent on this team and I think if they can reload in the draft and pick up a key free agent, they will be back in the hunt.

  8. jay

    December 13, 2009 at 8:21 pm

    You don’t gear your offense incongruently around finesse when you inherited or have non-finesse players, Mike. That goes squarely on the OC and the HC. And if you think Arians does a nice job between the 20’s, forget the runs because I want a balanced attack too, but, the runs notwithstanding, where are the screens and the draws to take the pressure off of Ben, or are you, much like Arians, deluded into thinking he has tons of time to throw on those long square ins—And no, there’s not always people open, and if there are, then why is ben missing or not seeing them? It’s because, no matter how you look at it, either the philosophy is skewed and incongruent to the existing talent and personnel levels, or the QB is not quite good enough to be asked to read the D 60-65% of the time like he is presently being asked to. It all points to, like you said, utilize 34 more, and that starts (doesn’t necessarily end with) getting rid of the OC.

  9. George H

    December 13, 2009 at 10:00 pm

    Of course Arians needs to go… the only good thing he did was bring the bunch formation to our offense. I like seeing Ben run it with the no huddle which always seems to work but we never utilize. Mendy needs the ball more, that goes without saying, but someone remind me how many Superbowls we won running 60% of the time with Cowher? We won the 05 SB bc Ben started throwing all around the field in the playoffs. We need to be 50-50, start the game pounding the ball and let that set up the best asset of our offense…the play action. Ben has rediculous numbers using PA. Its sad to see the season turn out the way it has…We have been very competitive all year long and theres no doubt Arians tried to showcase what he can do after winning the superbowl last year…hes trying to get a HC gig. Screw him, cut the OC,O-line coach, and Special temas coach

  10. Mike

    December 13, 2009 at 10:36 pm

    Jay, I’m with you. I can’t remember the last time the steelers ran a screen or an effective lead draw. those plays are not part of their game plan, ever. I do think a lot of the sacks, maybe 30% of them, are on Ben because he tries to extend plays. The Browns game though seemed to be all on the oline and them not having their heads in the game. The Steelers have had a chance to win every single game they have played this year. Everytime they have had the lead going in to the last possession or the ball with the chance to win or tie and have come up short. TO me, that speaks to their preperation and conscience choice to continue to throw the ball when they don’t have to. They have talented players at every position on this team. The oline is built for running the ball. They choose not to. Play action should be such a huge weapon for this team. shortening games in the second half used to be a thing of beauty but for whatever reason, Tomlin lets arians throw the ball all over the yard. Frustrating.

  11. mark

    December 14, 2009 at 9:07 am

    George, I think Wiz brought the “banana bunch” set to the Steelers as they used it during the historic run in 2005. As far as everyone wanting to see Mendy running more, who doesnt agree with that? Between Mendy, Parker and Moore there are plenty of fresh bodies all game long to run and throw screens to. It is just not the current philosophy. Case closed. However, there might be light at the end of the tunnel. After this disaster of a 2nd half to a once promising season, the team needs to re address the current way of doing things. The Steelers have never used knee-jerk reactions to bad moments or seasons. the off season will be spent dealing with players, coaches and philosophies. When Maddox was throwing all the time, the offense had some successes,some turnovers and the defense hardly had a rest. Now, with Ben under center, passing is in better hands, but the results of the offense on the defense is similar. We used to run to eat clock and rest the defense. Now we throw to move the chains and we all know that when you throw, 3 things can happen and 2 of them are bad! I do believe ego’s have to take a back seat in preparing for next season. This off season and new beginning for the team is going to shed some light on who is a team player and if Tomlin can regain the swagger and confidence he and his team have lost today. Like I said last week, In his first crisis as a coach, Tomlin lost the team and they collapsed. Lets see what happens over the next 3 games against 3 good teams. A lot can be accomplished, even at this point.

  12. DrGeorge

    December 14, 2009 at 11:01 am

    Insightful comments all, and special commendation to Jay for the history lesson on our O-line draft picks. (Stai was a 3rd round pick in 1995, I believe.) Note how the national media is finally recognizing what we’ve been lamenting for months.

    To look at Jay’s thoughts another way, consider how many of our offensive and defensive players would start for any of the top 8 teams today (the top 25% of the league). We might differ on our picks, but I find it difficult to name any player on the O-line that would start for a top tier team. Keisel on our D-line would probably find a home for a year or two. Our CBs and Safeties (excluding Polamolu when well) probably wouldn’t make the cut.

    Championship teams are built on solid line play, which must include on offense an ability to run the ball effectively, and on passing plays, an ability to protect the QB. On defense, it begins with an ability to pressure the opposing QBs, while stopping the run. Judged on these basic criteria, our lines are average and certainly not in the top 25% of the NFL, especially in the red zone and late in the game. Our lines don’t dominate any more.

    Defense wins football games, but right now our offense is the stronger unit in terms of talent. The rebuilding should start on defense. But we didn’t get into this mess in one season, and it will take more than one season to get us out. In the mean time, we must change our offensive strategy to protect the defense while it rebuilds, which means a low turnover, methodical power running attack to control the clock, to keep opposing offensives off the field, and to score more efficiently in the red zone. Ironically, a power running game will also make Ben and his receivers more effective, by restoring our offensive balance. This is the reverse of the quick strike spread offense Arians prefers. For that reason, among many others, the offensive coaching staff must be changed.

  13. Ravens Blogger

    December 14, 2009 at 11:59 pm

    The Steelers have much rebuilding to do in order to compete with their more powerful division rivals such as the Baltimore Ravens or the Bengals. Even the Browns will bully the Steelers if changes aren’t made.

    • Dirk

      December 15, 2009 at 11:27 am

      Ravens powerful? I can’t agree though I am a Steelers fan and it’s hard to credit the competition with non-bias. I will say the Ravens look stronger and more balanced this year than the Steelers – just a fact and one easy to admit after watching both teams this year. It doesn’t mean I will EVER quit the Steelers but how can you fix anything without admitting the problem? Both teams have serious issues if they want to retain their positions of dominance. I wish the ravens the best but still hope we cream ’em even though I am sure it’s reversed for you and that’s good as the rivalry between the two teams has lead to what they are. Good luck next year and if you get the wild card go represent the AFC North baby! Love to hate you guys but that is just friendly competition and part of the package. No hard feelings.

  14. mark

    December 15, 2009 at 9:43 am

    Ravens blogger, guess what? Your Ravens are NOT exactly a bully any more. The teams are in the same boat believe it or not. I do not think the Browns are in any position to bully either the Raven or the Steelers any time soon. True, they did beat a Steeler team last week. But they did not beat nor bully an able Steeler team. That is no excuse because the Steelers have been horrid for weeks now. I think this is just a bump in the road and the off season will be more productive for the Steelers than the Browns.

  15. Dirk

    December 15, 2009 at 11:21 am

    The running gets old and boring. Leave the passing in and add a running game but don’t replace one for the other…balance is vital. teach Big Ben to get rid of the damned ball once in a while and how is it he hasn’t learned that already? Too many concussions from bike riding and football I suppose. Still, he’s great and I am glad he’s on our team. Ward is tough and expects it from others. Keep strong and keep on holding up the standard Mr Ward. You sir are a class act. I respect the work Ward is doing in promoting racial diversity in Korea. Truly a role model. Sluggish Willie is gone, so is Moore and why didn’t we look at Johnson for a year or two? Hmmm…. Can Tomlin coach once Cowhers’ efforts are gone? That remains to be seen. Bill built this team and Tomlin is just a game manager at this point. We will see Tommy boy, the jury is still out.

  16. jay

    December 15, 2009 at 5:42 pm

    Dr. George,
    I totally agree with you. Everything you said to me seems accurate. I do believe smashmouth is in order for the VERY near future UNTIL we can instill or insert balance back into the offense. Dirk, the pendulum has to swing back to one extreme before it can effectively rest in the middle; which is why we should, as Dr. George points out, revert back to a running attack. Now, I know, I know, I know that you can’t fix this in one year but I would please like some feedback on this speculation:
    WHAT IF:
    -We fired Arians…
    -The organization assessed its player personnel needs in the offseason and came up with: Safety, Corner, ILB, DL, OL, short yardage big RB.
    -What if an honest assessment resulted in the knowledge that you can’t fill six needs in one draft but you can fill three needs in rounds one through three…
    -So let’s start with the third round and work to the top;
    -The only realistic impact player (i.e., to make an immediate impact) of the six aforementioned positions that one team could get in the third round would be a short yardage back;
    -That leaves round 2—Minnesota drafted Phil Loadholt (6’8″, 350) and Jacksonville took Ebon Britton in the second round so I say grab an o-lineman in round two;
    -First round—If there is a Darrel Revis CB or Patrick WIllis ILB available at our spot I say take him ( I prefer the ILB)
    So that takes care of RB, OL, and ILB….What if (and please tell me what you guys think of this SPECIFIC signing option) we signed Antoine Bethea (FS) from INDY. They are happy with Sanders and newcomer Melvin Bullitt. Let’s say we make a big signing and it is him. That leaves DL and CB…Well, we are trying to develop Lewis and Burnett and in the secondary. Kiesel signed and extension plus there’s Hood and maybe they either franchise Hampton or make a lower grade DL signing like, Gabe Watson from Arizona for example (although no Hampton, big enough to play nose)… Please write back because Now I have to live vicariously through Madden ’10 and any type of existing “fantasy” GM knowledge I have in lieu of december/january football.

  17. keith

    December 16, 2009 at 10:43 am

    Just look at the Cardinals and you can tell the ownership doesn’t have a clue what a coach is capable of! Tomlin has rode the cowher wave as far as it goes. Cowher is ready to start coaching, and the steelers should do whatever it takes to get him back. Maybe if they offer him some stock in the team he would come back? That man made something great with a low budget, average group of players. He was capable of bringing greatness out of these players, this is something tomlin as well as most coaches lack the ability to do!

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