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Thread: Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

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    Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    By John Harris, PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
    Sunday, January 3, 2010
    http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 60515.html

    Long before he dialed up the winning touchdown pass in Super Bowl XLIII, Bruce Arians was crafting a wide-open offensive system that makes him either the most beloved or hated person in Western Pennsylvania.

    Concluding his third regular season as the Steelers' offensive coordinator with today's 1 p.m. game against the Miami Dolphins at Land Shark Stadium, Arians doesn't dwell on his job status or how he's perceived by the general public.

    After all, he's generated enough goodwill over the years that he knows another good job is only a text message away.

    Arians has been working in the NFL or college since his first job as Virginia Tech's running backs coach 1977.

    For more than three decades, he has dodged the slings and arrows that accompany the unexpected twists and turns of his chosen profession.

    Each time he's been knocked down and he's been knocked down plenty Arians has gotten back up, seeking another challenge.

    "I don't feel one ounce of failure," Bruce Arians said when he was fired as Temple's coach following the 1988 season based on his 28-38 record at the school. "You never know what will be the next opportunity or the best opportunity. If you lose trying, that's OK."

    Eight jobs and 21 years after leaving Temple, Arians, 57, is still doing what he loves.

    And still doing it his way, no matter what his critics may think.

    Asked about an increased emphasis in the passing game this season a departure from Steelers teams of previous eras, which ran the ball first, last and always Arians offers no apologies.

    "The philosophy is to take the players you have, put them in positions where they can do what they do best, and then build your offense around that," Arians said of his new-look offense, which features a 4,000-yard passer, two 1,000-yard receivers and a 1,000-yard rusher for the first time in franchise history.

    At Temple, Arians coached running back Paul Palmer, the Heisman Trophy runner-up behind the University of Miami's Vinny Testaverde in 1986. Palmer created headlines when he rushed for 349 yards against East Carolina and 206 yards against Penn State.

    "(Palmer) got it 40 times a game because it ain't very heavy, you know?" Arians said. "Each team's so different. You start in the spring, you see what pieces you have, and you try to mold it into the best unit.

    "Our offense this year is what we do. Next year, it'll be different, because we'll have different pieces to the puzzle."

    Does that sound like Arians is concerned about his coaching future with the Steelers?

    Asked about his next stop after being fired at Temple, Arians, then 36, replied confidently: "I know I'll land on my feet. I'll be coaching somewhere next year.''

    "Next year" became four years as the Kansas City Chiefs' running backs coach, where Arians met a young assistant named Bill Cowher. Years later as coach of the Steelers, Cowher put Arians in charge of wide receivers. When Cowher left the Steelers, new coach Mike Tomlin promoted Arians to offensive coordinator.

    To understand who Arians is, as well as his decision to move the Steelers' offense into the 21st century, it's important to know his coaching influences.

    As Mississippi State's offensive coordinator under former Pitt coach Jackie Sherrill from 1993-95, Arians learned how to blend the run and pass in equal doses.

    Arians' 1994 offense at Mississippi State featured a 450-yard passing game (quarterback Michael Taite threw for 466 in a 66-22 win over Tulane) as well as a game with 60-plus rushing attempts (62 in a 21-17 win against Mississippi).

    When Sherrill made the decision to let Arians go, it wasn't a reflection on Arians' coaching abliity as much as it highlighted the head man's impatience. Arians was among four offensive coordinators that Sherrill hired and fired during his 13 seasons at Mississippi State.

    Arians' second stint as an offensive coordinator lasted only one season. In 1997, he directed Alabama's offense under coach Mike DuBose.

    It was at Alabama where Arians learned the importance of not losing faith in his system.

    Recalling his decision to call a screen pass for fullback Ed Scissum that resulted in a fumble which rival Auburn converted into the game-winning field goal, Arians said in 2008: "It's funny because it's not like it was intercepted. We missed a block and fumbled the ball. I never regretted the call because you drive yourself crazy if you start regretting calls.''

    Following his Alabama experience, Arians re-made himself again, this time as Peyton Manning's first quarterbacks coach with the Indianapolis Colts under offensive coordinator Tom Moore.

    Arians, who played quarterback at Virginia Tech, taught Manning the nuances of the ball-fake that makes his play-action passes so effective.

    "Bruce and I really spent a lot of time trying to make the run and the pass look the exact same,'' Manning said.

    Arians' star was on the rise when he became an NFL offensive coordinator for the first time with Cleveland. Under coach Butch Davis, Arians developed a pass-first mentality that led the Browns to a playoff berth in 2002.

    Quarterback Kelly Holcomb, who came over from Indianapolis with Arians, nearly engineered the upset against the Steelers in a wild-card playoff game, as Holcomb threw for 429 yards and three touchdowns.

    Cleveland, which led 24-7 but rushed for only 38 yards on 28 carries, couldn't control the clock and lost, 36-33.

    The following year, Cleveland's offense fell to No. 26 in total yards, went from No. 18 to No. 25 in passing and scored just 15.9 points per game after averaging 21.9 in 2002, prompting Arians' dismissal.

    When he was named Steelers offensive coordinator in 2007 after three years as their wide receivers coach, Arians took heed of what happened to him in Cleveland.

    Initially, Arians' offense was similar to former coordinator Ken Whisenhunt's ball-control attack.

    Two years ago, the Steelers featured the NFL's No. 3 running attack under Arians. Willie Parker led the league in rushing before breaking his leg in the next-to-last game of the season. The Steelers averaged more runs than passes that year, the only time that has occured in Arians' six years as an NFL offensive coordinator.

    Asked why the Steelers' offense changed in 2008, Arians said quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's rapid development and changes in the offensive line were responsible for the running game dropping from a No. 3 ranking to No. 23, while the passing game improved from No. 22 to No. 17.

    "When (guard) Alan (Faneca) and (center) Jeff (Hartings) were gone, we started building a new offensive line,'' Arians said. "Plus, Ben's growth as a player. He was ready to make the step."

    In a 37-36 victory over Green Bay two weeks ago, Roethlisberger marched the offense 86 yards in 11 plays for the winning touchdown pass on the game's final play. Every play called by Arians on that final drive was a pass.

    "We had to go over 80 yards with one play before the two-minute warning and one timeout,'' said Roethlisberger, who passed for a franchise-record 503 yards and three touchdowns without an interception against the Packers.

    When Arians called for runs on the Steelers' first three plays to open last year's divisional playoff game against San Diego, it was Roethlisberger who joked: "That's got to be a Bruce first.''

    A year later, Roethlisberger was serious when he said: "It's not a run-first team anymore. That's not a bad thing.''

    The Steelers possess an explosive passing attack, featuring a No. 7 ranking entering their final regular-season game. It's their highest output in that category since being ranked seventh under coordinator Mike Mularkey in 2002.

    The Steelers are averaging 22.5 points, compared with 21.7 points a year ago when they won Super Bowl XLIII.

    Roethlisberger's game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes led to Holmes being named Super Bowl MVP.

    The play was an Arians creation featuring receivers bunched at the line of scrimmage. Several receivers ran underneath routes, while Holmes ran to the corner of the end zone to make a spectacular catch.

    This year, Roethlisberger and Holmes are having their best seasons. Roethlisberger is eighth in passing yards, and Holmes is tied for third in receiving yards.

    "We're having fun," Holmes said. "We're making plays. Ben is trusting his guys.''

    What's more, the Steelers are finally trusting their Arians-led offense that's been years in the making.

    Air Arians

    How Bruce Arians-led offenses have fared in the NFL:

    2009 Steelers

    Total offense: No. 9

    Points per game: 22.5

    Total yards: 369.2

    Passing: No. 7

    Passing yards per game: 263.1

    Passes per game: 33.9

    Rushing: No. 22

    Rushing yards per game: 106.1

    Rushes per game: 26.1

    2008 Steelers

    Total offense: No. 22

    Points per game: 21.7

    Total yards: 311.9

    Passing: No. 17

    Passing yards per game: 206.3

    Passes per game: 31.6

    Rushing: No. 23

    Rushing yards per game: 105.6

    Rushes per game: 28.8

    2007 Steelers

    Total offense: No. 17

    Points per game: 24.6

    Total yards: 327.4

    Passing: No. 22

    Passing yards per game: 191.9

    Passes per game: 27.6

    Rushing: No. 3

    Rushing yards per game: 135.5

    Rushes per game: 31.9

    2003 Cleveland Browns

    Total offense: No. 26

    Points per game: 15.9

    Total yards: 281.5

    Passing: No. 25

    Passing yards per game: 177.1

    Passes per game: 31.8

    Rushing: No. 20

    Rushing yards per game: 104.4

    Rushes per game: 25.8

    2002 Cleveland Browns

    Total offense: No. 23

    Points per game: 21.5

    Total yards: 314.2

    Passing: No. 18

    Passing yards per game: 213.2

    Passes per game: 34.5

    Rushing: No. 23

    Rushing yards per game: 100.9

    Rushes per game: 25.4

    2001 Cleveland Browns

    Total offense: No. 31

    Points per game: 17.8

    Total yards: 259.5

    Passing: No. 28

    Passing yards per game: 175.1

    Passes per game: 29.1

    Rushing: No. 31

    Rushing yards per game: 84.4

    Rushes per game: 26.1

    Molon labe

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  2. #2

    Re: Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    So it doesn't bother him when he fails or gets fired, nice ! We need a guy it does bother and has some pride that he can get the job done or at least enough pride to be bothered that he might not be getting the job done.

    Arians record is proof, he stinks after all those years of trying and the best he can do is number 9. WIth any talented offensive cordinator and we are either number 1 thru 5 as an offense.

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    Re: Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    As Mississippi State's offensive coordinator under former Pitt coach Jackie Sherrill from 1993-95, Arians learned how to blend the run and pass in equal doses.
    Look's like he forgot how to do that.

    Molon labe

    People sleep peaceably in their beds at night only because rough men stand ready to do violence on their behalf. George Orwell



    American metal pimped by asiansteel
    Only two defining forces have ever offered to die for you 1. Jesus Christ, 2.The American G.I., One died for your soul, the other for your freedom.

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    Re: Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    If Houston wins today, you will have 8 of the top 10 passing QBs (yardage) in the league playing in the playoffs. This is what the NFL has deemed with its rules.

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    Re: Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    One thing these Pro-Arians articles ALWAYS just happen to leave out, is where that points per game number ranks in the NFL. The article will state 7th in passing. It will state the 4,000yds passing for Ben, the 1,000yd seasons for Holmes and Hines. It will mention the catches in a season for Heath. But it never mentions that our points per game ranks 13th in the NFL. Last year we ranked 17th in passing yards per game and freaking 20th in points per game. That is a JOKE!

    Keep hanging your hat on those passing numbers and our offense will remain middle of the pack. Bruce Arians offense has struggled two consecutive years from punching the ball into the endzone. He learned nothing from the redzone struggles of 2008 and it has shown in 2009. Can't teach an old dog new tricks, especially when he doesn't give a crap cause he will just find a new job if you don't like him.
    @_Hellgrammite

  6. #6

    Re: Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    That article says it all about Arians. Mediocre his entire life, except for helping one of the best qbacks ever coming out of college to be the best (what a joke - like Payton Manning wouldn't have been great anyway?)

    That Cleveland playoff game against the Steelers also says it in a nutshell. Put up points early only to lose because your O coordinator has no creativity and lacks the ability to adjust after halftime. Sure sounds familiar, doesn't it? Last year the Steelers won the SB despite Arians, this year he kept them out of it.

    How does such mediocrity rise through the ranks despite himself? What a crappy resume. I want coaches who EXCELLED FOR THEIR ENTIRE CAREERS.

    Please, please, please fire him after the season is over...

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    Re: Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    Quote Originally Posted by Mister Pittsburgh
    One thing these Pro-Arians articles ALWAYS just happen to leave out, is where that points per game number ranks in the NFL. The article will state 7th in passing. It will state the 4,000yds passing for Ben, the 1,000yd seasons for Holmes and Hines. It will mention the catches in a season for Heath. But it never mentions that our points per game ranks 13th in the NFL. Last year we ranked 17th in passing yards per game and freaking 20th in points per game. That is a JOKE!

    Keep hanging your hat on those passing numbers and our offense will remain middle of the pack. Bruce Arians offense has struggled two consecutive years from punching the ball into the endzone. He learned nothing from the redzone struggles of 2008 and it has shown in 2009. Can't teach an old dog new tricks, especially when he doesn't give a crap cause he will just find a new job if you don't like him.
    I am not an Arians fan, but per my previous post, this year is shaking out to be a very average ppg offensive output for the Steelers. In fact, looking at the last decade there has been no difference in ppg in the pre- and post-Arians years.

    http://www.planetsteelers.com/phpBB3...php?f=2&t=9977


    What has helped in the past were some top 10 defenses to go along with the offenses we fielded.

  8. #8

    Re: Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    If by flexible he means predictable...then yes he is very flexible.

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    Re: Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn
    If by flexible he means predictable...then yes he is very flexible.
    This sounds like the same mantra people used under Cowher. Fans will always claim the offense is predictable.

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    Re: Steelers off. coordinator Arians stays flexible

    Quote Originally Posted by BURGH86STEEL
    Quote Originally Posted by Shawn
    If by flexible he means predictable...then yes he is very flexible.
    This sounds like the same mantra people used under Cowher. Fans will always claim the offense is predictable.
    They said the same thing about Dallas' OC last year.... It's easy to blame home when Romo throws mega picks and the D was getting run over to end their season.

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