GLENDALE, AZ - OCTOBER 23: Quarterbacks Charlie Batch #16, Byron Leftwich, and Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers talk with offensive co-ordinator Bruce Arians (C) during their game against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium on October 23, 2011 in Glendale, Arizona. (Photo by Karl Walter/Getty Images)
Why did the Steelers struggle in comparison to other playoff teams?
Steel Curtain Radio host Lance Williams broke down the Steelers' red zone drives in 2011, and his conclusion is former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is not to blame.
It was more about the transition from the old guard to the new guys becoming "the guys," emphasizing "the."
The development of those guys, on the offensive side of the ball, was the responsibility of Arians. Many in SteelerNation have shredded Arians, particularly for his play-calling in the red zone. My contention with Arians wasn't the red zone calls, but the fact the options in the red zone were limited due to a general strategy to get the ball deep down the field at all costs.
At the same time, that strategy made sense. At this point last year, not many would have said it's a bad idea to get WR Mike Wallace, the game's best deep receiver, the ball 70 times at 18 yards a pop. I wrote the Steelers have a tank to drive on defense, and a Ferrari to drive on offense. I was referring to the big-play ability when they had the ball.
Steelers Hall of Famer Joe Greene put it better than anyone: "...run it when you need to, throw it when you need to." A football team needs to establish itself physically in short yardage situations. Of course the defense expects you to run on 3rd-and-2. Why does that prevent you from running the ball?
Williams says in his show, "great teams smash people." If a team can't line up and exert their will on another team for two yards, they don't deserve to move the chains.
To be fair, New England led the league in most red zone scoring statistics. They didn't run the ball particularly well. But they scored touchdowns two of every three times they were in the red zone.
The Steelers scored one out of every two trips.
To tie this back to what Williams is saying, the execution of a play, whatever it is, ultimately rests on the players. Getting those players to execute, though, is on the offensive coordinator.
Whatever new offensive coordinator Todd Haley does this season, he needs to get this offense moving in a better direction inside the 20s.