Tag Archives: Bruce Arians

Looking back at the Super Bowl

Looking back at the 2011 Super Bowl, the matchup against the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Green Bay Packers, there was one thing evident: The Steelers made way too many mistakes.

The matchup from a talent perspective was even but the Packers without a doubt, played the better game. The Steelers got outcoached on offense and defense and the Packers players executed better and made less mistakes.

There was no excuse for Ben Roethlisberger to force that pass which resulted in a pick six. But the absolute back breaker was Rashard Mendenhall fumbling on the 30 yard line when the Steelers had the momentum heading towards the go ahead score. Talk about stupidity, how did David Johnson completely whiff on Clay Matthews who caused the Mendenhall fumble. He’s horrible and shouldn’t even be using up a roster spot. Arians got rid of John Kuhn (FB for the Packers) because he doesn’t believe in a FB in favor of the worthless David Johnson.

And how about Keyaron Fox? The Steelers would have had 2 minutes to score on the 32 yard line but instead he got a personnal foul on the kickoff essentially pushing the Steelers back to the 17. A critical penalty at a critical time.

Dick Leabeau’s secondary looked confused and out of position. Take for example the game winning touchdown by Greg Jennings. Jennings was matched up against the aging James Farrior. How does that happen?

Shall we touch on the horrible lack of adjustments by Bruce Arians? The Packers lost their two pro bowl cornerbacks and the Steelers didn’t even attempt a no huddle offense to catch them out of position. Nice work Arians, no wonder everyone except Big Ben wants you fired.

All in all, you can’t be upset about the Packers winning. The Steelers beat themselves.

Steelers clinch 2nd seed

The Steelers clinched the division 2nd seed in the AFC with a 41-9 victory over the division rival Cleveland Brown.  The Steelers dominated in every phase even after the Steelers took out their starters beginning the 2nd half.

Notable Game Notes:

  • Troy Polamalu played for the first time in 2 games and intercepted a Coly McCoy pass on the third play of the game.
  • Bruce Arians called a good game with several short passes to take the pressure off Big Ben and the struggling offensive line
  • Eric Mangini was fired after the game.  There is rumors that Mike Holmgren, the Browns GM who had a say in the firing, might take over for head coach.
  • Big Ben and the o-line quite possibly had their best game of the game
  • Jonathan Dywer looked good in limited playing time

Steelers Coaching Staff Update

According to Adam Shefter of ESPN, the Steelers could see significant coaching staff changes for the 2010 season.

Reports indicate the special teams coach Bob Ligashesky is as good as gone for the 2010 season.  Everyone could see this move coming and is probably long overdue.  The Steelers special teams have been horrendous this year giving up the most touchdowns of anyone in the league.

Also facing cuts are offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and offensive line coach, Larry Zierlein.  Even though slightly improved this season, the Steelers offensive line continues to struggle.  Not only is their talent level subpar compared to other teams, they consistently appear to have a lack of communication.  They also have recently been dominated by some of the worst defenses in the league.

Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians is also on the hot seat and expected to be fired.  Arians has very easily one of the most talented offensive skills position players in the league but yet the Steelers struggle to score touchdowns against the worst teams in the league.  The offensive has looked pathetic and has not improved.  Arians does not adjust to defenses well and always appear to try to fit a “square peg into a round role”.  The productivity of the Steelers offfense does mach the skill level.  The Steelers need a coach that is both more flexible and able to make play calls that both exploit defenses and play to our players strengths.

Steelers vs Ravens: 2nd quarter rewind

  • Dennis Dixon has play well thus far with limited opportunities.  Dixon throw a nice roll-out pass and the followed up with a nice play action TD pass to Santonio Holmes
  • Steelers continue to have success with running the ball with both Rashard Mendenhall and Willie Parker
  • Ravens are giving the Steelers a heavy dose of McGahee, Rice, and fullback McClain
  • William Gay continues to get abused
  • William Gay and Ryan Clark get beat on a 50 yard pass play
  • Ike Taylor gives up a touchdown on a fade pattern
  • Steelers coaching staff goes overly conservative with 1:45 left in the 2nd quarter with consecutive running plays.  The offense gets close to the 50 yard line and runs out the clock.  The Steelers had plenty of time to try to gain around 30 yards to try a field goal.  A very disappointing decision by the Steelers coaching staff.

Steelers vs Ravens: 1st quarter rewind

  • William Gay got torched several times on the Ravens’ first drive
  • Willis McGahee scored the opening touchdown for the Ravens
  • Bruce Arians is being overly conservative with Dennis Dixon
  • Timmons caught out of position on a long Ray Rice run
  • Ziggy Hood getting a good pass rush
  • Steelers having success running the ball with Rashard Mendenhall

Score: Ravens 7 Steelers 0W

The Last Two Minutes

As the game clock ticks down below the two minute warning in the fourth quarter, you see your team with the ball, deep into their own side of the field and down by six. You’re sitting at the edge of your seat with anticipation, but deep down you know they’ve been here before and almost always emerge victorious. You wait with a confident sort of anxiety–for Big Ben has staged much more miraculous comebacks than this to pave the way to Super Bowl glory for your Steelers.

But this last minute effort wasn’t staged by Big Ben. It was staged by Bruce Arians.

Instead of the well choreographed, last minute, no huddle dance to the goal line, you got four poorly coordinated, poorly timed lobs to would-be receivers. NOT ONE YARD was gained and not one run play was even attempted.

So what happened? Were the reigning World Champion Steelers finally outmatched? Outplayed? No, they were simply out-strategized. With just under two minutes to play, Ben could be seen talking to Bruce Arians just before he went on for what would be his final drive. Bruce made very OBVIOUS hand motions that led the audience and the Bengals to believe that all Bruce wanted Ben to do was throw the ball. And throw he did. Ben attempted a pitch to each of his typical receivers, but failed to connect every time.

With one of the best quarterbacks in the league and quite possibly one of the most well rounded offenses, the only logical explanation is bad strategy. First, 1:55 on the clock is far too much playing time to resort to desperation passing. Especially since each failed pass attempt results in the clock stopping, sneaking a running play to the right and getting out of bounds would have thrown the defense without eating too much time off the clock. It also would have kept the defense honest and playing tighter, fearing another sneak run play, which could have allowed Ben to air it out long and ideally to the end zone. Second, rarely do we lose when we bring out the no huddle offense in the closing minutes of the game. Not only does it throw off the defense and not allow for adjustments and substitutions, but it also puts the strategy in Ben’s hands, where it belongs.

Now, I was hesitant to jump on the “Fire Bruce Arians” band wagon. I assumed that with the extremely loyal lot that are the Pittsburgh Steelers fans, that perhaps most of the hatred of Arians stemmed from the fact that he came on to fill the shoes of the great Ken Whisenhunt. Or perhaps because he came from Cleveland. It was not until this game against the Bengals that I realized that all this time, the raw talent and strong will of the team has been hiding his inadequacies all along. Put simply, his play calling is not always “bad” per se, just often predictable. The Bengals didn’t outplay the Steelers by any means (aside from the fact that Jeff Reed just doesn’t seem to want to tackle people running back his kicks). They just seemed to always know what was coming next.

Since it’s not likely that we’re going to fire the guy mid-season (if ever), I believe the answer is simple. Let Ben do what he does best. He understands the flow of the game and responds well to it. He understands much better than Arians the diverse cache of weapons that is the offense and how to use it in battle. Arians, on the other hand, gets so enamored with Ben’s throwing arm that he forgets that Mendenhall can sometimes rush for ten yards, even if he gets first contact at the line of scrimmage.

Ben has been lobbying for more no huddle this season. I hope Coach Tomlin overrides Arians and just lets him have his way with the Chiefs this Sunday.

The Super Six

The Super Six

The Pittsburgh Steelers are Super Bowl XLIII Champions.  How sweet it is to bring back another Vince Lombardi Trophy to the city of Pittsburgh.  It is well deserved.

I had to wait a few days to write this blog to let the victory sink in.  To be honest, I am still in the process of reading every Super Bowl article on the internet still.  You name it, the Post Gazette, Tribune-Review, ESPN, CBS SportsLine, Yahoo! Sports, etc.  I just can’t get enough of this Super Bowl victory.  It was perhaps the most emotional game I have ever watched.  I can honestly say that I thought destiny (and the referees) were against us when I saw Larry Fitzgerald score a touchdown, to take the lead, with just under 3 minutes remaining.  I thought the game was over.

Then, our franchise QB, Ben Roethlisberger marches 88 yards down the field (in spite of a holding call on Darnell Stapleton).  To cap off the drive and the Super Bowl victory, Santonio Holmes made one of the best catches I have ever seen and possibly the best catch in Super Bowl history.  Give huge props to Big Ben Roethlisberger; he put together possibly the best 2-minute drive in Super Bowl history.

I won’t review the game since you all have probably seen all the highlights and read all the analysis you can handle at this point.  However, in a future post, I will add all the Super Bowl XLIII highlights to our Steelers photo and highlight gallery.  What I will review is a few plays and thoughts from the Super Bowl.

James Harrison returns interception for 100-yards
The interception return was easily one of the greatest plays in Super Bowl history and is now in the record books as the longest play for a touchdown in Super Bowl history.  I couldn’t believe what I was watching and was going crazy in watching him go yard-by-yard on the way to a pick-six.  I think I was gasping for air just as much as James Harrison was by the time he reached the end zone.  That play was simply unbelievable.  That was most likely, at a minimum, a 10-point swing.

Troy Polamalu lining up face-to-face with Larry Fitzgerald
I personally think this matchup wasn’t talked about nearly enough and should have been one of the post-game story lines.  Larry Fitzgerald, the best athlete on the Arizona Cardinals (and best WR  in the NFL) matched-up with Troy Polamalu whom is equally as athletically gifted.  Polamalu played bump and run with Fitzgerald to try to slow him up a bit and delay him from ‘hitting his routes’.  The media downplayed this matchup.  Most people questioned why Kurt Warner didn’t get the ball in Fitzgerald’s hands earlier but you can’t throw the ball to the guy if he’s double and sometimes triple covered.  Give Ken Whisenhunt credit for moving Fitzgerald around later in the game to get better matchups.  I thought Dick Lebeau and the Steelers D should have started moving Troy Polamalu around to ‘spy’ Fitzgerald later in the game.  They didn’t do it and you saw what happened.  Fitzgerald started torching our secondary.

Larry Fitzgerald scoring with just under 3 minutes to play
This was a devastating play and it really showcased why Fitzgerald is the best in the business.  He’s got the intelligence, the speed, leaping ability, and the hands to dominate in this league.  I really thought this was going to end up being the game winning touchdown.  Larry lined up in the slot, beat his man, split the seam and was off to the races.  Troy Polamalu took a gamble and the Steelers defense paid the price.  Polamalu was over aggressive and attacked the out pattern which opened up a huge hole down the middle of the field.

Larry Fitzgerald beating Ike Taylor on the fade route
This is just another showcase of this guys ability.  Also, give props to Ike Taylor because he had absolutely incredible coverage.  It’s just that if Fitzgerald gets his hands on that football in a “jump ball” situation, he almost always comes down with it.

The play of Big Ben
In watching this game, Ben Roethlisberger had an absolutely incredible game and really deserved the MVP award and that’s not taking anything away from Santonio Holmes because he had an amazing game as well.  Ben Roethlisberger made some plays that showcased why he’s an elite quarterback in this league.  His scrambling ability to buy time in the pocket was amazing.  In particular, the throw to Heath Miller in the first quarter while buying time and throwing across his body displayed his underrated athleticism, arm strength and his field vision.  Steve Young said it best (and I’m NOT a Steve Young fan) when he asked Ben, ‘How do you do that’, ‘Do you have eyes in the back of your head’.  It sure seems that way, Young.

The playmaking of Roethlisberger doesn’t stop there either.  His pump fakes caused the Arizona Cardinals cornerbacks major headaches as well as his ability to extend the play in the pocket.  His accuracy was “spot-on” in the biggest game in the world (or maybe I should refer to the Planet hereJ ).  For example, his 1st down throw to Holmes on the last drive displayed his accuracy and arm strength.  His throw out of the end zone (which resulted in a safety due to the Hartwig bogus holding penalty) was equally impressive.  His 2-minute drive was typical Ben fashion.  Even though I’ll admit that I wasn’t confident at the point, I knew that with Big Ben this game was not over.

The game winning touchdown pass to Holmes in the end zone was perfect.  It couldn’t have been thrown in any other place.  If Ben threw that ball a foot to the left, it’s intercepted.  If Ben throws that ball a foot to the right, it’s out of Holmes’ reach.  Ben was simply incredible on the biggest stage in the world and in my mind, is well on his way to becoming a Hall of Famer.  Did I mention he’s only 26?

Holmes Breakout Party (and a bit on Hines)
The play of Holmes’ was equally as impressive.  He just made play after play after play.  I give him huge credit because I knew that the extra coverage was going to be rolled his way because of the injury to Hines Ward.  I thought the first reception to Hines Ward was instrumental because it scared the Cardinals in thinking that he was healthier than what he really was and opened the door for Holmes.

Hines played more of a decoy role in this game but he’s equally as good.  The guy is a flat out football game that plays the game the way it was meant to be played.  Hines Ward plays tough, healthy/hurt, emotional, physical and great.  He’s the ultimate Steeler and I can’t wait to see him inducted in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

With Ward not being 100%, it was time for Santonio to step up.  And step up he did, by winning himself the Most Valuable Player honors.  The media hype up rookie Dominique Rodgers-Cromartie all week and said he would shut down one of the Steelers receivers.  Well, that was far from the truth.  I think Holmes took a little offense to that as well.  Cromartie was used and abused by Holmes all game.  It was a complete mismatch and the Steelers exploited it.

Other Notes:

Offensive Line – While they played a decent game, especially the tackles (wow, did I really say that?) it just makes me wonder how good Big Ben would be with a solid o-line.  I think we’ll see the offensive line addressed this offseason.  I am predicting that they’ll be one new starter at guard and tackle come next year.  Our offensive line in short yardage situations is a terrible though.  The Steelers failed to score a touchdown on two occasions (1inside the 10 yard line, and 1 on the inch yard line) that could have put this game WAY out of reach, early.

Coaching – Overall, I think the coaching was good.  Both Whisenhunt and Tomlin had their guys prepared to play.  I’m more impressed with Mike Tomlin more than ever now.  I guess a Super Bowl victory in your second season will do that.  Bruce Arians had a better than expected game plan but I would have thought, I’d see more passes to Heath Miller especially with the early success.   Dick Lebeau had a great game plan as well but that is nothing new.  It’s great that he’ll be back next season!

Linebackers – The Steelers ‘backers had an amazing game.  Harrison is simply a beast and must be accounted for on every play.  Woodley is an all-pro type player and we should be lucky to have him and he’s only in his second year!  He dominated Levi Brown all day and clinched the game with the forced fumble.  Foote is still solid and very good against the run.  James Farrior is Mr. dependable and is the leader on defense.  He had a great game and is well deserving of his Pro Bowl status.  Farrior is playing like he’s 24 years old, not 34.  It’s a credit to his preparation.  Lawrence Timmons is a star in the making.  Timmons has his troubles in run defense, but he’s great in pursuit, an explosive hitter, great in coverage, and has speed and burst.

Steelers-Ravens Weather Conditions

Dress warmly Steeler fans.  The current temperature in Pittsburgh is 25 degrees with a wind chill of 15 degrees.  Expect the temperature to drop significantly as game-time approaches.  As displayed earlier today on ESPN, there is a good bit of snow at Heinz Field.  It appears that the field will be cleared of all snow by game time but expect snow flurries (per weather.com) later this evening in the mass of 1-3 inches.

The National Weather Service has issue a winter weather advisory for the Pittsburgh area.  For details, click here.

Expect Heinz Field to be a bit sloppy with these weather conditions and the wetness of its natural grass turf.

Who does this favor?  Well, its difficult to say.  I think the bad weather and field conditions will favor the Baltimore Ravens defense both against stopping the run and offensively, running the football.  Fast Willie Parker has struggled with cut-back ability at Heinz Field when conditions are bad.  In contrast, the Ravens have more success playing power football with the run game with north-south runners Ray Rice, and LeRon McClain at tailback.

However, if the Steelers can stop the running game of the Ravens, I feel this will put tremendous pressure on rookie quarterback, Joe Flacco.  This will allow a Steelers attacking defense to blitz the inexperienced QB.

While the bad weather may be a negative for the Steelers running attack, the passing game shouldn’t struggle too much.  The Ravens secondary is beat up and if given the time to throw the ball, Ben Roethlisberger should be successful.  The wide receivers know their routes which give them the slight advantage while the defense could “slip up” (literally) on the grass at Heinz Field.  Let’s hope the offense play calling by Bruce Arians can take advantage of these situations.

When will the Steelers Learn?

The big news coming out of Browns vs Steelers game is obviously the concussion that Big Ben suffered. After extensive testing, the results came back negative and was confirmed that Roethlisberger suffered a mild concussion. This is Ben’s third concussion and it makes you wonder when three things will happen:

* When will the Rooney’s decide to protect their 100+ million dollar investment with an adequate offensive line. Didn’t Steve Young only have 6 concussions before he retired? Ben and Rooney should take a close look at what is happening. With the amount of sacks that Ben has taken over the past several years, this was bound to happen.

* When will Ben learn to get rid of the ball quicker. It still takes him way too long to go through his progressions. By the time he reaches his 3rd and 4th receiver, it’s too late. And NOTE to Ben, STOP trying to make the big play all the time! Take what the defense gives you and check down!

* When will Bruce Arians learn to adapt his game plan to the game situations and make in-game adjustments. Is it just the fans that see that the short passes to Moore, Miller, Spaeth work? How about the slants to Hines, and Holmes? Why is Bruce Arians calling plays that take so long to develop and involve 7 step drops knowing that our o-line can NOT hold onto their blocks for that long?

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