Blogs | Sports | News
The Steel Mill

Another twist in Arians v. Steelers


Did he retire?

Was he forced out?

Well, you know what they say — there’s your side, my side and and somewhere in the middle is the truth.

It appears now that the lack of committment to a long-term future by Arians forced Steelers Art Rooney to finally pull the trigger and not offer the offensive coordinator a new contract — or so that’s the story today.

In an interview conducted by Bob Labriola on today, Labriola pulled no punches and came out and directly asked Rooney if he had anything to do with Arians’ deparature.

Although Rooney sidestepped the question at first, he gave a peak into his thought process a little later.

“Bruce talked about retiring for a number of years now,” Rooney said. “We are looking to improve on offense and to have somebody in place for a number of years. I think it was time for a change. We are looking forward to moving on.”

Arians said earlier in the week that he had no choice but to retire after the team did not offer him a contract, and that he had been contacted already by a number of teams about coaching next year.

That was stark contrast to late last week when the Steelers sent out a press release saying that Arians retired after five years with the team as the offensive coordinator that resulted in two Super Bowl appearances.

Rooney initially did not answer the question of if he had anything directly to do with Arians’ departure.

“The question of how we got here is not really relevant,” Rooney said. “The key now is that Mike (Tomlin) has begun the search for our next offensive coordinator. We will go through the process and interview the right candidates.”

The Steelers offense finished 12th in total offense (372.3 yards per game) and 21st in points per game (20.3) last year.

Stay tuned, I am sure the story is not over yet. We still have to hear from Ben Roethlisberger, now don’t we?

– By Mark Kaboly


Author: Mark Kaboly

Mark Kaboly is the Pittburgh Steelers beat writer for the Tribune-Review. Mark has covered more than 300 NFL football games in all 32 NFL cities as well as three Super Bowls -- XL in Detroit, XLIII in Tampa and XLV in Dallas. A Belle Vernon Area graduate, Mark earned a Bachelor of Arts degree in English with a specialization in journalism from California University of Pennsylvania. Mark lives in Port Vue with his wife, Jennifer; daughter Briella; and boys Rocco and Bugsley Pug


  1. Skip says:

    Interesting spin by Mr Rooney, but why not get rid of Dick LeBeau too, then? He’s been coaching on a year-by-year basis for quite some time now.

  2. Rob says:

    I’m with Rooney on this one. The important thing is not how it happened, but that we got rid of the dead weight and we can now start the search for a competent offensive coordinator.

  3. Scott P says:

    There is seriously something wrong with Arians. He claims that he wanted to retire last year and Ben talked him out of it. He also says that he applied for every open Head Coaching job last year and did not get a single interview. So which is it Bruce? Did you want to retire or secure a job that requires long hours and full commitment? The two are on opposite sides of the stratosphere.

    He is either bi-polar, a chronic liar, or both. Kudos to Art Rooney for doing what Tomlin should have done years ago. If Mike is not strong enough to make the tough decisions, then maybe it is time for the Rooney’s to re-evaluate his tenure with the team.

    Bill Cowher always did what he believed was in the best interest of the Pittsburgh Steelers. A lot of times that required firing people. Sometimes even getting rid of friends.Cutting ties with an ineffective Coordinator, who apparently has some emotional issues, should not have been that tough.

  4. Clarence says:

    Not sure about the emotional issues but I am sure about the lack of an ability to humble himself to learn how to make his playbook better. This owuld have been well served by opening up his expansive set of running plays to a running philosophy, style, sets, and plays. He chose not to even when Rooney II specified that such was his vision for the team. Such was Tomlin’s promise to the Rooney’s when hired. I believe Tomlin showed more loyalty to Arians than to the Rooneys which is backwards. You honor the history of a team and its ownership before coaches you hire and it is a part of the HC job to make everything work from the relationships from the top to the bottom.

    Tomlin’s got something as he has won with what he’s had, but he too must grow as a coach and learn to adjust his gameplan as the game flows and make the tough decisions for what’s best for the team not the player’s desires Roethlisberger screwing up the 49ers game or Arians screwing up every game where he could not get the ball into the endzone from the 0 yard line.

  5. Clarence says:

    ok, type alert replace owuld with would and replace ” expansive set of running plays” with ” expansive set of passing plays”

  6. Chuck H. says:

    Well, the last thing I heard was that the Steelers are thinking about promoting their
    Qbacks coach to OC, which probably means that we would work with the same dumb
    plays as with Arians, who couldn’t score from the one yard line in 4 running plays. Now,
    by running plays, I don’t mean smashing into the middle of a bunch of angry D-linemen,
    and linebackers who want to break the runner in two pieces, or steal the ball from him, but running plays with a little trickery like faking the runner into the middle and the Qback taking it in around that bunch of angry men, or throwing to a wide open receiver.
    Please Steelers, pick an Offensive Coordinator from outside the organization.

  7. Tony says:

    Picking an OC outside of the organization would be good for a team that isn’t close to competing for a title. There is too much transition involved with the playcalling and terminology, especially if the OC runs an exotic playbook even if it is run oriented. We should realize that most players have average intelligence and can only absorb average change. This would require major change and at least 2 years of a learning curve. Keep that in mind when asking for an OC outside of the organization. Be ready for some growing pains.

  8. Hound Dog says:

    Kudos to Gorman for his JoPa coverage. Glad the T-R sent its best columnist to set the scene.

  9. Matt says:

    Even if the Steelers do promote from within, the next oc will add to the offense and have a different play calling style and rhythm. If Arians was not clear that he was to run the ball more I think it’s very clear now since he was not offered a contract extension.

    The last 3 OC’s were internal hires. I would be more than happy to have the first two back calling plays,,, so I guess 2 for 3 is not that bad.

  10. Gary says:

    Rooney is an idiot…….He is living on his families legacy……just another spoiled rich kid that brings new meaning to the Peter Principle………The steelers are headed to the staunch of the fifties and Chuck Nolls fingerprints of this franchise are quickly being wiped off……..Arians development of Rothlisberger young receivers and an effective offense that experienced tons of adversity should be acknowledged. To bad Artie boy isn’t retiring!

  11. Doug Halfen says:

    Mr. Rooney has been doing his best to avoid making the obvious statement:

    “As an offensive coordinator, Bruce — quite frankly — stinks.”

    This isn’t about Ben or making/keeping Ben happy. He needs to grow & evolve as a QB, and neither was happening with Arians running the show.

    In fact, The Boss is kinda throwing a life-preserver at Ben with this move. Under current practice, the Big Galoot would likely last 2-3 more years, and I’d rather see him stick around — and be HEALTHIER — for another 6 or even 7 seasons.

    Bolster the O-line and reassert the dominance of the running game, and 6-7 more seasons can be a realistic expectation.

    No shame in staying healthy, Ben! (And let your teammates share the load!)

  12. John G says:

    I don’t agree with hiring someone outside the orginization for the offensive coordinator job unless that same person had past experience with Ben at the pro level such as Mark Whipple (lately the former offensive coordinator or quarterback coach at University of Miami and currently the quarterback coach for the Cleveland Browns) who was the quarterback coach for about three years towards the end of Bill Cowhers tenure with the Steelers including the 2005 season when the Steelers won the Super Bowl against Seattle. I just think the Steelers don’t need a massive overhaul of the offensive play calling which is when most coordinators from other teams/outside the orginization are hired. Would like to see a blocking fullback and trick plays which former offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt would call it seemed at the right time breaking the game open. Remember the pass from Randall El to Hines Ward in the 2005 Super Bowl win over Seattle and the trick play which Cedrick Wilson caught a touchdown pass against Cincinnatti in the playoffs during the same season? Whipple has a good offensive track record, helped with Ben’s development early in his career, gets along fine with Ben, and was seen talking with Ben after the second and last game of the season against the Browns. I doubt Whipple will be hired as offensive coordinator since when Tomlin was hired as head coach he chose not to have him on his new staff and instead replaced him with Ken Anderson. Randy Fichner (spelling) is the only one on the staff with offensive coordinator experience even it was at the college level at University of Memphis. If he is switched to offensive coordinator new quarterbacks coach needs hired. Regardless of his contract situation I doubt Whipple would even consider being the Steelers quarterbacks coach. If they pursued him it would be a lateral move since again he is the current Cleveland Browns quarterback coach and it would require the Browns permission, won’t happen.

  13. 6 TONS OF STEEL says:

    I don’t care if he was fired or retired. He was garbage. Darn it the biggest concern to me is if the Steelers are gonna upgrade our pathetic O-line. We need players.

  14. hammertime says:

    Too the person above, if we don’t start winning like we should with the talent on this team, they are going to go outside of the club and get a whole new COACHING STAFF!!!!!, The only one that should be left would be “Dick Lebeau”, give him the right pieces and we will dominate again, defense been called old all year, but still ranked near the top, he just need some new young better parts, he IS the best coach on the TEAM!!!! any thing left over from Arians group, are going to do the same old CRAP that they know, thats pure “FOOLS GOLD” to think they would change anything!!!!!

  15. Bob says:

    I think the discussion over the “OC” is really funny because it is slightly off the mark… the search really needs to focus on some OGs! Arian’s gaffes in play calling can be argued until the end of time, but if Ben gets 1-2 more seconds more often, great things happen (as we have seen repeatedly). The play book is not “wrong” per se, but the play makers are not utilized when the QB is on his back, not to mention the RB. Please, please, please go all in this Draft – move up and take the top two Offensive Guards. The run game will improve, the pass game will hit both short plays and long more often and whomever is plug-n-played into the OC will look like a genius!

  16. K2 says:

    Going from the Browns to the Steelers a lateral move(????)….. I don’t think so!

  17. raiser says:

    I had been worried that the wide reciever screen was going to haunt us, and if not for a blown call it would have in the Denver game when Ben threw a latteral that was ruled a forward pass, teams have been sniffing it out and they see it on tape every week but Arians kept running it. He became too predictable, I did like the Wallace run for a TD from the 1, but more is needed. We can’t run the same plays week after week and expect teams not to plan for them. I didn’t have major issues with Arians because we won a lot of games, but I think we need a true fulback so that we can balance things out and pound it for at least 15 touches a game and run it at least 25-30 times a game. If we can be more balanced our passing game can light it up and the running game can pound people down.

  18. Glenn says:

    Goodbye, WR Screen. I will miss you. [Switch off sarcasm]. But wait. Ben is still running the offense [if Arians is being replaced by another in-house Puppet]. If Ben likes the WR Screen, we might be forced to watch it in 2012. I don’t mind it once or twice in the bubble formation but 5-7 times a game and naked screens made this offense predictable and at times reckless.

  19. Rick says:

    Well, I am interested in what is happening in Baltimore, now that Pagano is going to Indy as head coach.
    Dare we say there goes the Raven’s defense? Who knows.
    As far as we go, Fichtner could be good, people liked what he did, especially with a team with lots of injuries, be it a college team or not.

    Remember, if we go outside the organization then that person has a lot to learn, and whatever that person brings in will have to be integrated. Could make for another season full of people grousing and complaining.

    Fix our O line, get them blocking better, protect Ben better, open running lanes better, be in better shape.

    So Hoke has retired, will Smith follow? And what about Farrior? Lest we forget, we had a ton of injuries on the defensive side this season.

    And to whomever made the comment about QB running around the end during that 4 bad downs on Brown’s goal line. Ben was not healthy, he could barely handoff the ball let alone “run around the end” or even push to do a QB sneak. Yes, other plays could have been called, but maybe our O line should have been angrier than the Brown’s defense.

  20. DAME1971 says:


  21. Rick says:

    I like getting a fullback in the game but I’m old school.. I realize fewer teams are doing it but it seems to be working for the Giants. Just saying

  22. Dennis says:

    I look at the Giants and the Steelers as to teams that were traveling in the opposite direction this season. The Giants got healthier as the season went on as the Steelers got unhealthier. The Steelers are good enough to be playing in this Super Bowl. They just need some tweaking.

    As long as Ben is our QB, I don’t think we will ever see more than a 50/50 split with passing and running. A fullback would me nice. I think the offensive need to have more of a killer instinct. Earlier in the season they seemed to always let the other team hang around instead of running up the score. Later in the season they had redzone problems.

    I really think the big problem this year for us was the strike. Not having an offseason program hurt. Rookies were not ready, but even more so alot of players look heavy and not in shape. Ben, and Lawrence Timmons to name a few. I am really looking forward to this offseason and the draft. I like last years draft class alot plus I liked the undrafted rookies too. Looking forward to see how much better they get. Wesley Saunders, John Clay, Barron Batch, Cris Carter, Curtis Brown, Cortez Allen, and Trevis Turner will get alot better this offseason. I also like Al Woods, I want to see him after a full offseason program.

  23. Darrell says:

    I certainly agree with rooney on this move, it should have been done 3 years ago. But Tomlin obviously has no back bone to inter- change personnel to better the team.
    It was sickening to watch all those 3rd and ones, that we had to drop back 4 yards to pass to get a first down, maybe!!!. Fine tune the running game, and with the recieving core we have. The offense can be dominate.

  24. bill says:

    Favorite 1st down call, Mendy up the middle

  25. bill says:

    Let’s try our favorite trick play, wide receiver bubble screen, that works 1 out of 15 times.

  26. bill says:

    Even though Heath Miller has great hands and can get open and run after the catch, let’s keep him as a blocker because the OL sucks.

  27. bill says:

    Even Jerome Bettis had a Fullback (kreider) blockin for him, but uncle brucie got rid of that position.

  28. bill says:

    Now on 3rd down, let’s go shotgun and throw bombs.
    I just don’t understand why those plays don’t work again and again and again.

    Tomlin’s gotta grow some gonads too. Political correct answers don’t work for very long in Pittsburgh.

  29. David says:

    I would like to see the NFL rethink thier sceduling format as far as scheduling teams to play 4 days after apart, ie: Steelers played the bengals on Sunday, and then had to face the Browns that Thursday, … from an injury standpoint, players are still fatigued and hurting from that Sundays game, and not just the Steelers, that was just used as an example, they need to get a way from that, and if PLAYER SAFETY, is an issue and Paramount with the Goodell regime, then there should be no problem in changing this… Right!

  30. David says:

    Glad to see Pagano leave the Ravens and leave the AFC North,, nxt up should be Reed and Lewes,,, actually like to see Ray-Ray stay because he is slow and aging, so yes, keep ray, but let reed go, cause Reed is still a beast back there….

  31. John G says:

    To K2 I know what you mean regarding a move by an assistant coach on the Browns to the Steelers considered a lateral move but by NFL rules an assistant coach from any team going to another team is considered lateral if the coach is going to have the same title on the team he is going. I think it also requires permission from the current team the assistant is working for but not sure about that. Heard Kugler doesn’t want the OC job, looks more and more like the OC job will go to Randy F.

  32. K2 says:

    John G my comment was tongue n’ cheek. What I was really saying… I’d rather be part of the Steeler organization then the Browns. Just being part of the Steeler orgaization (a winning org) would be an upgrade and therefore a step-up in terms of quality of job!

  33. Scott P says:

    FIRE Arians!!! ……Oh wait, they already did that…..Sign a Fullback and give Redman the starting HB job.

  34. Glenn says:

    AGREE! Sign or draft a quality FB!! Historically, the offense ran like a machine with a QUALITY FB leading the way. A FB and a few adjustments on the O-line and this is a high powered scoring offense. Was that scotch I had for lunch?? Why not!!

  35. Tony Gello says:

    Thank God some in the Steelers organization finally got rid of that guy. He was probably the worst OC the Steelers ever had. When something would be working he would change things up and go away from it instead of sticking with it. He never knew when to change things up when they weren’t working, such as those stupid wide receiver screens to the sidlines. When Ben ran the no huddle he called better plays than BA. Just because other teams run mainly a passing offense doesn’t mean we have to. Steelers need to bring in a OC that wants to bring in a fullback and run the ball more. The offense needs to be more balanced as for run to pass. BA was always so pass happy. Bring in somone from outside the organization, PLEASE!!

  36. Digger137 says:

    Caldwell coached with Tomlin under Dungy at TB

  37. Norb says:

    Gorman was brilliant at the JoePa doings this week.

    Glad we didn’t get stuck with Kovejevic and his hatchet jobs.

  38. Norb says:

    Does anybody have an update on Biertemple’s kid for the Chipped Ice Blog?

  39. Arians should have been fired long ago, along with the person in charge of making the
    Draft decisions. Arians could not design 1 play to slow down Suggs who by the way had
    9 of the 40 sacks on Ben this year, Suggs total sacks for the year is 12, DAA !!!
    a no drainer !! The draft guru believes the 5 guys in front of Ben main responsibly
    is to help him off the ground after he’s been sacked or knocked down, this usually
    happens before a 3 count, GET IT, 1- 2- 3 Sacked or running for his life.
    So in essence it’s a design or talent issue, WELL Steeler fan’s, Bad news, It’s Both.
    Lets Draft 8 more linebackers this year, refuse to move up in the draft to address
    obvious weaknesses , or finish 2-12 next 5 years so you almost cant miss on drafting
    A stud lineman, and replenish an Talent Pool that is getting older by the second.

  40. Section 125 says:

    Whomever it may be, please be sure he knows the difference between a tight end and a tackle.

  41. Dick says:

    All this talk about a running game is just fine but you’ve got to have a decent O-line that can block and open up holes. Too many times I see a running back trying to run up the backside of an offensive lineman. Does anyone think we have the O-line for a good running game. One of the strong points of Isaac Redman are his nimble feet and ability to change direction when there is no hole. No, I think the present Steelers are built more for the passing game although the offensive line again is critical to this phase and must be able to protect Ben. We need a coach who can recognize our strengths and weaknesses. Fichtner may be the best bet. We don’t know but a good interview would divulge this. Also, a top priority in any candidate for this job is without a doubt…………he must be a good motivator. I believe Fichtner could fill the bill.

  42. Jim of Pa. says:

    A big problem with arian’s run game is the time it takes to execute. For instance, about 99% of all the handoffs to our rbs , ben takes the snap and then has to turn, go back about 5 yds. and hand the ball to the rb , who then has to try to hit a hole that has already closed. every run play seemed to be based on a deep hand off. The run games has to be , ” getting the ball to the rb as soon as possible unless it is a delayed draw, which we hardly ever used. 99% pf our run plays were ran with out a lead blocker, too. It takes really good guards to have a strong run game and we have not had any since tomlin was hired and arians became our oc. Big, fat and slow is the death knell for an ol in the run game.

  43. salli says:

    Gary — After last year’s horrible results and our embarrassing first game this season, I believe you predicted the real problem with the Steelers. Let’s hope others finally see what you’re saying as the truth and prevent even more damage.

Other blogs
Sports: Rob Rossi | Steel Mill | Chipped Ice | Bucco Blog | iPreps | Pitt Locker Room | Penn State Sports
News: This Just In | Trib List | ICycle | Flow Back | Stories Behind Trib Stories  

» Top Sports
» Top News
» Top Breaking News