Let the debate continue. Apparently this conversation is worth having, as Chris Mortenson of ESPN had reported that Mike Tomlin had a conversation with his offensive coordinator about shaping up or being prepared to get shipped out. So, did he do enough Monday to save his job? Here's my take.
The first half Monday was as bad as the Eagles game, no doubt. And when put in the context of coming after the catastrophy that was the previous Sunday, the first half against the Ravens was all the more difficult to stomach. Believe me, I feel you if you're of the mindset that the first half was more than enough to deserve a pink slip out of town. As I wrote in my previous post-game reaction, I was beyond embarassed. It wasn't that anymore. I was just kind of bored. Watching the Steelers! How bad is that? There was little to no reason to believe that things would be improving, no?
But, finally, and I mean just at the last moment, we showed a sense of urgency. We finally went no-huddle (apparently at Ben's insistence), we finally did some 3-step drops and quick dump offs to our play makers, starting of course with our first offensive TD in 8 quarters on a slant to Santonio Holmes. Holmes, the play maker that we were ooooing and ahhhing over all this summer, finally was given a chance to make a play in open space! What do you know? He did.
There were both impressive and unimpressive moments in the second half. Our 3-play series on 1st and goal in the 4th quarter was underwhelming, but in Arians' and the offenses' defense, we were down to our last RB, Mewelde Moore, who's not exactly thought of as a goal-line power back. That makes things tougher of course, particularly against a fast and smart Ravens defense that closes down small windows and running lanes in the red zone as well as anyone in the league. But those realities lead to the question: why go unimaginative there, then? Why try to pound it with our 3rd down back on 2nd and 3rd downs?
But there were great moments too. The play-calling was solid in our game-winning drive in OT. Much of the credit goes to the players of course, but by that time, the offensive line had shored things up enough that we didn't have to keep our back in there to block, freeing Moore to roam free in the passing game. Arians saw that, deployed him, and Ben looked his way in the biggest of moments, including on 3rd and long from the Ravens 35. An incompletion, or worse yet, puts us in tough FG range. We executed, got Reed in a distance he could kick smoothly from, and the rest was history.
So, there was the unthinkable - a pathetic first half in the wake of the Eagles game. And then some adjustments in the second half. But perhaps not enough to get him off the hot seat alltogether, at least with us fans. Great offenses put teams away when there's an opening. You have to in this league, as even a rookie QB named Flacco proved. We weren't able to when he had the chance.
Hopefully the coaching staff will take lots away from this game. Little things like the QB sneak Ben called for 3 yards early in the second half when the Ravens were still bringing the house at him. That was a sign of pulling out all the stops to change the flow of things for us on offense, even if it was ugly and non-traditional. The no-huddle, of course, was a sight to see. Teams will again adjust to our adjustments.
How will Arians respond? I feel he's earned himself some more time, at least two more games after the BYE, at bare minimum. Let's hope this is a non-issue moving forward and our offense will fare far better as we go to the no-huddle more often and find new and better ways to get the ball out of Ben's hands and into those of our playmakers.
The odds are against us this Sunday, but best of luck to Arians and the gang as they gameplan for a Jaguars defense that has some holes on defense compared to years past. A win before the BYE week sure would go a long way towards making us all believe that our offense can be good enough to keep up with what's turning out to be an outstanding defense.