View Full Version : Prisuta: The play's the thing for Steelers

11-15-2008, 03:57 AM
The play's the thing for Steelers

By Mike Prisuta
Saturday, November 15, 2008
The 6-3 Steelers rank 26th in total offense, which explains why so many Steelers fans want the head of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.

That ranking is just behind Kansas City (No. 25) and just ahead of Cleveland (No. 27).

It's not where the Steelers aspire to be this late in a season, but Arians has more significant concerns.

"I don't care where we're ranked," Arians said. "Six and three - that's the only (stat) that matters.

"You do what you can to help the team win."

The Steelers were 17th in total offense a year ago, Arians' first in charge of the unit.

The significant development then was the inclusion of Ben Roethlisberger in the game-planning process and the freedom afforded the quarterback to apply his craft.

The result was Roethlisberger setting franchise records for touchdown passes (32) and passer rating (104.1), making his first trip to the Pro Bowl, and, more significantly, making that symbolic transition to "franchise quarterback" with an appropriate upgrade in pay.

You ask me, that was some pretty good offensive coordination.

But that was then, and this is now. And the natives are restless.

They're restless because they hate the play-calling.

And they hate the play-calling because they're missing the point.

The point is it isn't necessarily a bad play just because it didn't work.

That third-and-2 pass from Roethlisberger to Santonio Holmes from the Steelers' 16 with 1:30 left in the first half against the Indianapolis Colts was an example of such a call, even though the pass was intercepted. In defending it, we won't even consider Mike Tomlin's acknowledgement that there was concern about the snap-punt process with a new snapper and new punter - an explanation we actually buy.

When they win, the Steelers are going to rely on significant doses of Roethlisberger to Holmes.

The consecutive goal-to-go runs in the fourth quarter also were good calls, even though both got stuffed.

When they win, the Steelers will make a yard in such situations. It was reasonable to expect a 50-percent success rate against Indianapolis.

One other aspect of play-calling that's worth noting: About 30 percent of the Steelers' plays are run-pass options.

The flanker screen from Roethlisberger to Holmes on first-and-10 from the Steelers' 28 with 6:13 remaining was such a play. Nine guys ran a running play, which, as it turned out was blocked exceptionally well. Roethlisberger and Holmes made a sight-adjustment based off where a safety was creeping, as is their option.

It lost 3 yards, and two plays later, the Steelers lost the ball.

But that doesn't mean it's time to reel in Roethlisberger.

Bad calls happen in the NFL. But most of those involve running Michael Robinson from the 2 rather than Frank Gore, as the San Francisco 49ers did against the Arizona Cardinals, or throwing to a backup defensive tackle from the 1 rather than trying to get the ball to Clinton Portis or Chris Cooley, as the Washington Redskins did against the Steelers.

Most of the rest really does come down to execution.

Along those lines, Arians' play-calling ought to be a lot sharper when Willie Parker is carrying the ball against San Diego.

And the embattled offensive coordinator will get even smarter once the quarterback gets healthier, and once tight end Heath Miller makes it back into the lineup.

Mel Blount's G
11-15-2008, 04:42 AM
The lack of in-game adjustments this year is due to time restraints dictated by such stringent requirements such as a timed halftime break and other equally horrendous league-imposed requirements. To be quite honest, if the modern day master of creative play-calling, Bruce Arians, and his coaching/motivational experts (such as Mr. Zeirleins) were to be given just one courtesy consideration, or "break" if you will, such as an extra down in each of our offensive possessions, or the trivial exception for our offensive line to begin moving before the ball has been snapped, we probably aren't even having this discussion right now

11-15-2008, 08:35 AM
prisuta has a crush on arians. how sweet.

11-15-2008, 11:38 AM
And the embattled offensive coordinator will get even smarter once the quarterback gets healthier, and once tight end Heath Miller makes it back into the lineup.

Apparently, he doesn't want to look smarter, since Ben will not have a chance to get healthier if he keeps calling long developing plays involving 7 step drops behind a patchwork offensive line. He also has no plans to use Heath as anything other than a blocking dummy, since he only decides to start throwing to the TE when Miller is hurt and Spaeth has replaced him.