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A Dissenting View on Arians' Future in Pittsburgh

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From the comments section of a previous post by resident rational mind steeler lifer. The following responds to some of my arguments in a coherent, reasonable manner. There's no right or wrong answer here, just an interesting scenario that sooner or later will sort itself out at Steelers headquarters.

-Blitz-

Blitz, you have summarized the situation regarding Arians very well. There's no question Arians deserves some credit for helping Ben have a very good year. The question is how much. It's not as if he was given chicken feathers and asked to make chicken cordon bleu out of it.

I would be against keeping Arians. His job is to produce a good offensive system, not produce a great quarterback. Obviously they should go hand in hand, but if that's the case you could make an argument that our offense significantly underperformed given the play of our QB and the talent at other skill positions.

I am not a huge fan of Football Outsiders' ranking system but at least they make an effort to look at things beyond mere statistical totals. Their final regular season ranking of the Steeler offense was No. 12, which represents a drop from No. 11 the previous year. On pure numbers, this year we ranked No. 9 in points scored, No. 17 in YPG and No. 17 in first downs. While there is no statistical ranking for the times a QB makes a great play while running for his life, I would bet we ranked in the top three if not No. 1 by a wide margin.  Overall, I don't see a lot of evidence to suggest we had anything more than a slightly above average offense despite having a way above average QB, a way above average running back and a very solid receiving corps.

It's the OC's job to devise a system and call plays that best use the players' talent while best hiding their weaknesses. I don't think that system is in place. You can argue that OL problems compromised play execution, but you could also argue that Arians failed to react to those weaknesses in his play selection. Like you, I was heartened by the first drive vs. Jax because it looked like Arians would be aggressive and had finally integrated bootlegs and play action into plays that allowed Ben to be under control outside the pocket. Then they disappeared.

Play selection will always be a controversial topic. I won't beat a dead horse by dwelling on the final crucial offensive drive, but it's baffling to me that, on second and five with the season on the line, we would not give Ben two opportunities to make a six-yard pass rather than run two plays behind a third-string OT. It's an indication to me that Arians has more faith in his X's and O's than the players those X's and O's represent. There have been plenty of other examples this year but that was the killer.

I have little to no confidence in Arians doing a better job next year. He's not a young coach. He's been around the league. He was promoted from within and should know the talent on our team. He was more or less forced on Tomlin because of the timing of Tomlin's hiring. Tomlin has had a year to figure out if he can win a championship with this guy, not just have a well-liked offensive caretaker for another year or two.

Tomlin should not worry one bit about the players ability to adapt to change in the staff or the playbook. That's what players are paid to do. The only criteria is whether Tomlin feels he can go to war with this guy and win. If he feels he can, then keep him. But at the very least Tomlin should take a good long look at who else is available.