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Is the lack of offense that much of an issue?


Right now let’s face it – the Steelers offense isn’t very good. Take away that nifty 50-yard TD run on their first offensive play of OT vs the Falcons, and the black and gold haven’t crossed the goal-line once.

Now with that said, this week is another shot to right that wrong, though most seem to think with Charlie Batch running the team from under center it will be another slug it out affair that will come down to the defense making plays and not turning the ball over.

In watching the Mike Tomlin Presser on Tuesday, it has become apparent that Ed Bouchette, Steelers long time and I feel excellent beat writer for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, seems to feel this offense isn’t very good, and even with the insertion of a $100 million dollar QB in two weeks it still might not get up to speed for sometime into the 2010 season.

My question is – why?

How much of the Steelers offense is to blame on Bruce Arians, the play caller that a lot of readers of this very website love to hate?

Or is it an offensive line that has been put together with glue, string, and band-aids?

Is it the running backs not getting the job done? Or maybe not enough plays from the wide out core?

Personally, most of the blame I feel does fall on Arians at this point, and I am not one to just pile on him like a lot of fans have done in recent history.

Case and point in week one vs the Falcons, he had Dennis Dixon, a Kordell Stewart clone, and never had one run designed for the QB to try and make something happen. Instead, it was a rather cut and dry gameplan that could have and should have gotten creative to take advantage of the players on the field.

Against the Titans, again, it would have been nice to see a gadget or two with a team that was struggling to find the end zone with plenty of chances. Now Arians wasn’t the one that dropped passes like a couple players did, but again, you have to put your players in a position to win, and I don’t feel he is doing that.

For this week and possibly next you know the team is going to have Batch and possibly next week Byron Leftwich under center. While I wouldn’t doubt if the team can find a way to get the ball into the end zone this week (against the Bucs), next week won’t be so easy against the rival Ravens at home.

So now is the time to start to develop a game plan that can be successful, as well as one that will put the players on the field in the best position to make plays and win games. Otherwise, this great 2-0 start could easily be gone by the time the franchise QB returns October 17th.

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.

8 Comments

8 Comments

  1. Aksum

    September 23, 2010 at 11:16 pm

    I think the #1 person to blame is BR.

  2. C Slater

    September 24, 2010 at 8:27 am

    I think it can be an issue if we don’t see it open up once Ben gets back. I believe the play calling has more to do with the lack of offensive output more so than the talent. But I also think the play calling has been dictated by the unique situation we find ourselves in. The article points to the fact that there were no designed running plays for Dixon in the ATL game. I see this not as an oversight but more of a way to minimize the chance of Dixon getting injured. At the time our QBs were Dixon and Batch and Batch had barely gotten any work at QB so if Dixon goes down what are we left with? At that point we didn’t know that the D would be able to carry the team. So a conservative game plan that minimized Dixon’s exposure to hits and that minimized the possibilities of him turning the ball over, to me seemed prudent. In game two we saw the D continue its dominating ways that began in ATL and we did see designed runs for Dixon and what was the result? Dixon got injured and what happened? In steps Charlie who had barely any work at QB. At that point you have to go conservative and minimize Batches exposure to hits. We had no other QB at that point. When defenses see us going conservative then they load up against the run. Both ATL and the Titans did this. When this happens I can’t blame the O line for not opening up lanes. Its a numbers game and the defense has the advantage. Even with the conservative calling we did have our chances. Mike Wallace had a TD called back and Hines dropped a very catchable TD pass. If either of those plays result in a TD are we having this conversation? Either one may have changed the way the defenses played us and possibly allowed us to open the O a little more. I honestly have no issue with the way Uncle Brucie is calling games. As a fan I hate that the O is producing minimal results but from my point of view its to totally understandable why. As I mentioned in the first sentence this only becomes a problem if this persists once Ben returns.

  3. George H

    September 24, 2010 at 11:37 am

    Right on the money Slater… Opposing defenses will continue to stack the box and virtually not allow our run game to breath. The offense has to take more chances down the field. We started to see that out of Batch last game, the only problem was the receivers were dropping catchable passes and one TD was taken back due to holding. I don’t see drops as that being much of an issue though down the road. The Steelers have very talented offensive weapons and Batch knows the system and when hes in the game there is a certain calmness that takes the field. I fully expect to see much more productivity with Batch under center and in-turn, the run game with flourish.

  4. DrGeorge

    September 24, 2010 at 11:40 am

    I am one of those who faulted Coach Arians’ play calling last year and his disregard of the rushing game since his arrival. But given the present circumstances, I feel obliged, if not to defend him, to at least excuse him this year.

    With his franchise QB on ice, and both back up QBs injured, Arians has had no choice but to turn to the running game. And in fairness, the Steelers are more effective in short yardage and the red zone, although they remain an average rushing team generally. With his O-line riddled by injuries and unable to develop the rhythm and timing that comes with practicing together for months, Arians is forced to employ conservative play calling, knowing that pass protection remains a weakness.

    Whether another OC could get more out of our offensive talent than Arians is a subject worthy of debate — but even Arians’ detractors must admit that his challenge this season is daunting. I do wish he would try a few more of our old ‘gadget’ plays — the misdirection plays he has called have been especially successful against those packed fronts that C. Slater accurately describes above. But over all, I really can’t fault Arians for the team’s paltry offensive production to date. He’s coping pretty well under difficult circumstances.

    However, I do fault the Steelers management and coaching staff for failing to rebuild the offensive line over the past four years and for failing to address the obvious problems on defense and in the running game sooner. For example, we passed on some outstanding offensive tackles in the last four drafts; B. Urbik, a second round OG, never did develop, which leaves Pouncey as our only O-lineman taken in the first or second round. At the same time, Arians de-emphasis of the rushing game from the start of his tenure at OC has left the team deficient in run blocking skills. We continue to pay a price for both of those oversights.

    All of that would seem to be water over the dam, except that Ben Rothlisberger, when he returns, is going to inherit the consequencesw of those miscalculations. He will have a second-tier O-line, an average rushing game, and a revamped receiving corps to work with. Despite Ben’s superior skills at QB, it is a bit much to ask him to compensate for so many shortcomings elsewhere. The offense will improve when Ben returns, but we aren’t going to see an offensive juggernaut suddenly emerge in Pittsburgh. The over all talent and mind set simply aren’t there yet. But if the defense avoids serious injury and special teams continues to improve, an average offense may be good enough.

  5. Brownsgab

    September 24, 2010 at 4:11 pm

    Squeelers 2-14

    • mike peck

      September 26, 2010 at 7:44 pm

      You’re wrong already about the Steelers. Although you are on pace for your team’s record.

  6. james

    September 24, 2010 at 5:18 pm

    No one mentions 97 degree temps in Tenn. O line rotated all game and had to have fluids forced. I live in FL and I know the heat. If you are dressed in black and are in the sun LIFE WILL SUCK!!! The offense isn`t as bad as everyone thinks.

  7. Mike

    September 24, 2010 at 6:09 pm

    The only numbers that matter are that the Steelers are 2-0. Stop killing arians for his play calling. There is not a fan base in the NFL that like their O-coordinator with the possible exception of Indy. Take Brees from the Saints, are they 2-0? Nope. Take Manning from the COlts, they would be 0-2. do it accross the board. Play calling is not and will never be the issue with the steelers offense. Game preparedness cost them last year. You might think it is a semantic arguement but it isn’t.

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