Two weeks ago, Steelers fans rejoiced as embattled offensive coordinator Todd Haley was relieved of his duties and replaced by quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner.
"The king is dead! Long live the king!" they all shouted.
At long last, the team with the greatest collection of offensive talent the NFL and the game of football have ever seen would be getting a worthy game-planner and play-caller, one who would squeeze every last ounce out of it—and probably even more.
Fichtner's debut as offensive coordinator of the Steelers would be on Sunday, January 28, 2018, not only in front of a frenzied crowd at Camping World Stadium in Orlando, Florida, but in front of the entire world, as seven of his charges would take the field, representing the AFC in this year's Pro Bowl.
And with nearly two weeks to prepare and, again, with offensive talent that was the envy of the league, Steelers fans and (as I just alluded to a second ago) the entire world waited with bated breath to see what tricks and innovations Fichtner would put on tape for every other team to have to prepare for in 2018.
You know what the world got instead?
One giant dud of an offensive performance from this so-called “greatest” collection of talent the NFL and the game of football have ever seen.
How many passing yards did quarterback Ben Roethlisberger average per game in the six years that Haley was in charge of an offense that was supposedly unimaginative and anemic?
You know how many yards Roethlisberger threw for on Sunday?
And don't even get me started on the 3.8 yards per attempt, which are nearly four yards less than his career average.
And how about yet another pick-six?I guess the old gunslinger, the "cowboy" didn't get it out of his system after throwing so many against those Jags this year.
What about Le'Veon Bell? How many yards do you think he rushed for under Haley?
How about 5,336 yards, for an average of 4.3 yards per carry.
How many do you think he rushed for under Fichtner's watch at the Pro Bowl?
How about three yards on just two stinkin' carries!
Remember the first Jaguars game, when Haley failed to really establish Bell on the ground versus a defense that was vulnerable against the run?
Did Fichtner not learn anything by example?
To make matters worse, on both of those aforementioned carries, Bell didn't even seem like he was running hard, forcing the officials to blow the whistle well before the play should have been over.
Oh boy, do I already detect a bit of lax from Bell, now that the old butt-kicker is away coaching the Browns' offense?
Now let's talk about Antonio Brown, the greatest receiver in the word, a man who came into the afternoon with 1,107 targets and 733 receptions for 9,910 yards during his stellar career that hasn't even reached a decade.
You know how Fichtner, the new guy, "utilized" the All-Pro down in Orlando?
By throwing him one pass.....one!
Are you freaking kidding me? Was he trying to get Brown to throw something on the sidelines, because if he was—and I'm just going to say it—it would have been totally justified.
And to make matters worse, Fichtner turned the Pro Bowl—and his All-Pro, superstar receiver—into a circus act by having Brown throw a pass in the first half...with his left hand!
Who asks a receiver to throw a pass, and with his left hand, to boot?
You talk about humiliating.
I've been a supporter of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin for years, but after what I saw on Sunday, I think the "Coach Rah Rah" label is now an apt one.
See, this is what you get when you give Big Ben a buddy as his offensive "boss."
No discipline. No attention to detail.
It was like they weren't even prepared for the game (again).
It is now quite clear to me that the Rooneys had it right when they brought Haley on board in 2012.
Roethlisberger needs a butt-kicker, someone to keep him in-check.
I engaged in some deep thinking as I did research for this article, and if there was ever a coach who is the perfect combination of offensive innovator and butt-kicker, it's Hall of Fame tight end and Pittsburgh native, Iron Mike Ditka.
Ditka is both creative enough to bring the Steelers' offense into the 21st century, and tough enough to tell Roethlisberger that, "Hey, I'm the coach, and you're the quarterback! You do what I say and when I tell you to do it! Otherwise, I'll be looking for a new quarterback to run my offense!"
Ah, yes, I can just see Iron Mike throwing his gum in Roethlisberger's lazy, undisciplined face.
Anyway, sorry for the rant, but I just couldn't sit back and say nothing after Sunday's performance in Orlando, not when it was quite apparent that Randy Fichtner does not deserve the keys to the greatest offense the NFL and the game of football have ever seen.