“Everybody thinks they can call the plays.”
Ron Cook used that line once in a column about Ken Whisenhunt. Bruce Arians said it again this offseason. And it’s true.
Come Monday morning, Pittsburgh is full of masterful offensive coordinators who think if they could pull out their Madden playbook, the Steelers would never lose a game.
This past Sunday was the Steelers’ first loss of the season and predictably, an old whipping boy come back to the forefront: Bruce Arians.
Never mind that Jeff Reed missed two field goals. Never mind that Santonio Holmes dropped at least 4 catchable balls. Never mind that Dick LeBeau never figured out how to stop Chicago’s quick passing attack.
Nope, none of that matters. It’s all Bruce Arians’ fault.
I, for one, thought Arians called a pretty solid game all around. The Steelers actually established the run most of the afternoon and if the offense had better execution, they easily could have put up three more TDs.
The 3rd and 2 play call that has been so highly criticized? Here’s my thoughts, which I posted in a comment over at BTSC.
Last week, people were clamoring for him to air it out and that’s what he did on the biggest play of the game…the 3rd and 2.
If he runs it with Parker or Mendenhall up the middle and they get stopped, yinzers would be throwing him off of the Smithfield Bridge. I can hear them now: “We can’t run the ball on short yardage! Right up the middle! So predictable!”
It’s easy to say that the pass play was a dumb decision because it didn’t work. That’s what evaluating play calling is so hard. The players have to execute and can make Arians look good or bad on any given down.
I think today’s loss falls more on failed execution than misguided strategy, but that’s just me.
That comment references one of the key points I have been trying to hammer home since we started this blog a few years ago: you can not evaluate a play call based on the outcome.
It sound stupid at first glance to say that, but I can definitely say that Steeler “fans” would have been ecstatic if Holmes catches that long pass on 3rd down. They’d also be absolutely furious if Arians ran the ball and it didn’t get the first down.
The Steelers have been terrible at converting short yardage plays on the ground for a couple years. No way they have a better chance running it than letting Roethlisberger make a play.
It’s easy to sit back drinking a beer on your couch and say he made the wrong decision when it didn’t work. But that is a terrible way to evaluate these things. All Arians can do is call the play. The players are the ones that make him look good or bad.
Steeler fans have always hated offensive coordinators and always will. You never hear anybody calling out Dick LeBeau for not running a cover three defense when the Steelers are consistently beaten through the air. I don’t even remember people praising Arians at all after the Super Bowl win, where his playcalling and hurry up offense won a game that LeBeau’s defense choked away.
Criticize Arians if you think he deserves it. He certainly didn’t deserve it after this week though.
With every loss, Steeler fans make themselves look more and more like one of the most ridiculous fanbases in the NFL. We’re only 2 games removed from a historic Super Bowl win and people are ready to fire the entire staff because it is just so incomprehensible that maybe the players just had a bad game or that even good football teams can lose once in a while.
The wort part about the Steelers being successful is that we now have one of the most ignorant and annoying fan bases in all of sports.