Our long national nightmare is over! The Pittsburgh Steelers announced on Thursday that Randy Fichtner, the offensive coordinator for many, many, many years (three), will not be coming back for 2021.
Yes, apparently, Fichtner called one too many “A whole season without Ben” and “air-mail the snap over Ben’s head” plays to stick around any longer.
If you’re a Steelers fan, this has to be music to your ears and something that has become quite the tradition in January. If there’s one thing we celebrate more than playoff victories this time of year, it’s the firing of offensive coordinators. People were so through with Fichtner, even before the start of the 2020 regular season, some had changed their Twitter name to something to do with firing him. In fact, I don’t know what mattered more to the Steelers’ faithful during the regular season: Firing Fichtner or winning a seventh Super Bowl.
In fairness, it was probably a Super Bowl, but if you can’t have that, the next best thing is a pound of flesh. Heads must roll. People must be held accountable.
And the offensive coordinator’s head is never too far away from the chopping block.
I remember the good old days when Bruce Arians was held accountable. “This will change everything,” they all said about the franchise quarterback who was a little too chummy with his offensive coordinator. To be honest, it did. Ben Roethlisberger tweaked his game under the smarmy tutelage of Todd Haley, a man who has never been known for being too chummy with anyone. He actually seemed to do a decent enough job. In fact, Pittsburgh had one of the more explosive offenses in football from 2013-2017. Of course, that just so happened to be around the same time Antonio Brown, Le’Veon Bell and a rebuilt offensive line began performing as well or better than any of their peers in the National Football League.
Did Haley get any of the credit for this offensive output, even if it would have almost been impossible to fail with that crew? Not a ton, I can tell you that. Besides, Roethlisberger probably wanted to punch him a lot, and the team’s red zone efficiency was not so efficient.
It may have helped if the Steelers had won a Super Bowl, but that didn’t happen, so something had to change, and it was Haley’s employment status.
By the time Pittsburgh was upset in the divisional round by the Jaguars following the 2017 season, the only question was, when would Haley get the boot? The other question was, when would Fichtner get promoted from his role as quarterbacks coach?
The answer to both questions was, not long.
Fichtner was the new sheriff of the offense. “This will change everything,” they all said of Fichtner, who may not have had the relationship with Roethlisberger that Arians did (they golfed and vacationed together), but at least he wouldn’t be the Vivian Vance to the quarterback’s William Frawley (the tension on the set of I Love Lucy was palpable).
In fairness, it did change things, especially in the red zone, where Pittsburgh excelled in 2018. But it’s hard for an offense to excel anywhere when the franchise quarterback is standing on the sidelines with his throwing arm in an apparatus.
That was 2019 when it was determined that Fichtner didn’t know his head from a potential matchup problem.
Fichtner never recovered from a season of designing game-plans for Mason Rudolph and/or Devlin “Duck” Hodges—even with Roethlisberger back in the saddle for all of 2020; after Pittsburgh’s quick and painful exit from the playoffs at the hands of the Browns on Sunday night, it seemed like Coach Randy’s days were numbered.
Now, his number is up! “This will change everything,” they’re all saying about (insert the new offensive coordinator here).
Do you really think this will change things? I’m guessing it won’t. Oh, sure, there will be articles written all offseason about how the new coordinator’s previous experience is just what Pittsburgh’s offense needs.
But it’s just a matter of time before the next failed trip inside the red zone. What happens then? What happens when the new offensive coordinator runs when a pass may have been the answer? What will be the reaction to one too many bubble screens (Steeler Nation hates bubble screens no matter who the OC is)?
What will happen if the Steelers fail to make the playoffs next year or make them but lose before a Super Bowl can be captured?
I know what will happen: The offensive coordinator will be dismissed.
That will change everything.