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fordfixer
01-11-2010, 03:12 AM
Madden: Steelers in stable condition

By: Mark Madden
Beaver County Times
http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sport ... ition.html (http://www.timesonline.com/sports/sports_details/article/1501/2010/january/10/madden-steelers-in-stable-condition.html)

Sunday January 10, 2010 11:58 PM

Steelers beat Ravens on Monday night-QB big Ben confers with offensive coordinator Bruce Arians after his first quarter interception.

The Steelersí in-house game of musical chairs is over.

Special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky and offensive line coach Larry Zierlein are out. Head coach Mike Tomlin tried to yank offensive coordinator Bruce Ariansí chair out from under him, but upper management put it back. Quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson retired.

And so it goes with a franchise that prides itself on stability but briefly devolved into chaos.

There was no need for massive coaching change. The Steelers are a year removed from winning a Super Bowl. Panicky overhauls are the way of the lower echelon, not a team thatís had three head coaches since 1969.

Ignore the hue and cry of the hoi polloi. Make the playoffs next year, bad memories fade. Miss the playoffs again, legitimate turnover will be warranted.

Ariansí offense had a great year statistically. If play-calling in certain situations needs tweaked or even usurped, itís Tomlinís prerogative to do it. Bill Cowher did it. Donít be a figurehead. Be a head coach. Ariansí big picture looks good, and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger likes working with him. Retaining Arians was proper.

The disturbing aspect of the Steelersí coaching carousel is the decision-making process. Who makes the call?

Even though keeping Arians was the right move, it should have been up to Tomlin. Was it? Does defensive coordinator Dick Lebeau have carte blanche to work as long as he wants? Heís good, but is that good?

With most NFL teams, the coach is a conduit between players and management. But the Steelers coach has such unrivaled job security, he becomes a legitimate part of management, beholden to the above much more than the below. But does that mean management should share/interfere in Tomlinís process?
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Canning Ligashesky was inevitable. The Steelers ranked 30th in the NFL in kickoff coverage, 24th in punt coverage. They were first and fourth, respectively, a season ago. What happened? The Steelers also allowed four kickoff returns for touchdown in five weeks. Ligashesky was universally disliked, a militant pain in the backside with a resume of mostly failure. Not only was Ligashesky easy to fire, it may have even been enjoyable.

As for Zierlein, it was hard to succeed a legendary player and coach like Russ Grimm. Following the guy that followed Grimm will be easier. Zierleinís line allowed 50 sacks this season. Roethlisberger holds onto the ball too long sometimes. Not that many times.

Stability is the Steelersí watchword, and thatís a good thing, even if the path there seemed a bit disorderly this past week.

The Seattle Seahawks, meanwhile, exposed the Rooney Rule for minority hiring as the fraud it is by settling on Southern Calís Pete Carroll for their next coach, then canvassing black candidates like Minnesota defensive coordinator Leslie Frazier after that fact, turning the interview process into a bizarre, league-sanctioned minstrel show.

The only team to productively adhere to the Rooney Rule is the Steelers. If NFL teams could just hire who they want for GM and head coach regardless of ethnicity, it wouldnít aid the cause of minority hiring. But it wouldnít hurt, either, and it would eliminate a lot of hypocrisy.

If the NFL truly wants to integrate minorities into its hierarchy, welcome a black man into the ownersí club.

Mark Madden hosts a sports talk show 3-6 p.m. weekdays on WXDX-FM (105.9).