After a full day of speculation, which, by the way, was touched off by a false rumor this dickhead himself leaked to a reporter, it's been confirmed that Bruce Arians is being retained yet again by the Steelers as offensive coordinator.
Those who staunchly defend Arians say he is unfairly scapegoated for the team's failings and that the offense improved this season over the previous year. Both these statements are true. Nevertheless, that doesn't mean he should have kept his job.
The Steelers were the 7th ranked offense in the NFL this season in terms of yardage. Pretty good, right? Sure is. 4,000 passing yards for Big Ben! Two 1,000 yard receivers! A 1,000 yard rusher! Great success!
That ranking, however, dips a bit when it comes to scoring points - which is slightly more important than yardage - to a just okay 12th. Which makes sense when you see that they were 22nd in the league terms of touchdown percentage inside the red zone. A primarily passing team, which the Steelers are unmistakably under Arians, is generally going to have it harder inside the red zone, simply because there is less space for defensive backs to have to defend. Also because Arians often doesn't even bother to try running once the team gets there.
Where Arians did well this season was in game preparation and play scripting. In all but a few games, they came out of the tunnel with a good offensive surge to carry them through most of the first half. The problem is, when teams adjusted to what the Steelers were doing, the attack fell apart, or the offense went into panic mode where it tried to do too much at once. Only against San Diego and Green Bay did it seem like the unit kept momentum throughout an entire game. And only against Denver did they play better in the second half than the first.
How many times did the team needlessly try to pick up huge chunks in desperation when they had ample time to work the entire field? The final drive in the second game against the Bengals is a prime example. All the receivers running streaking routes down the field while the pass rush tees off on Big Ben before any of them have a chance to get open. Or even this week against Miami, when starting with the ball around the opponent's 40, Arians calls a gimmick play that calls for Santonio Holmes to throw deep. Granted it's one of those plays that's called inspired if it works, but Miami read it out easily and Holmes was picked after chucking the ball deep into double coverage.
Too often the offense is in home run mode. This might be a reflection of Roethlisberger's approach as much as Arians', but the offensive coordinator certainly does nothing to dissuade his QB from doing that. In fact, some of the quotes from Arians in regard to Big Ben are disturbing. He's said repeatedly that he doesn't want to try to change any facets of Roethlisberger's game. Big Ben had a great year, the second time he's finished with a QB rating north of 100, but he's not perfect either. He occasionally needs someone to remind him to try to get everything on one play. That taking checkdowns on roll outs or throwing the ball away is okay.
Hopefully Larry Zierlein's successor gets improved enough play out of the offensive line that the Arians doesn't feel the need to go five-wide on 2nd and 2 or only run in the red zone as a change of pace. What's done is done and for now, we can only hope that an improved season out of Arians is part of an upward trajectory. I obviously thought not if I've been advocating for his ouster, but I trust in the organization and Mike Tomlin that he's the best option for the offense going forward.