It’s been a crazy last couple of weeks for the Steelers and the fans. The untimely exodus from the playoffs, the Bruce Arians saga, and now Ben Roethlisberger talking to the media while at the Pro Bowl in Hawaii. Everybody has their opinions on what’s going to happen but the fact is nobody knows the inner workings of the Steelers except for the front office and coaches. The players know more than the fans ever will but fortunately they don’t normally take their internal business public to a point where it becomes a major distraction usually. The Steeler way has always been to deal with team issues inside the confines of the team and give the media as little as possible in the way of details. That is certainly the case now as they face one of the most important off seasons in the last decade. The salary cap issue, old players, injuries, coaching changes, it’s all well documented but I think we need to really get a handle on the talk that there are internal issues between the Rooney’s, Mike Tomlin and his players.
This whole Arians retirement saga could have been handled much better, I think we can all agree with that. The fact that the decision came from Art II and not Mike Tomlin is interesting but it doesn’t mean the two are at odds. Tomlin prefers to stay out of the limelight as it is. It’s obvious the front office wanted to just push this off as Arian’s retired and then move on. Everybody is happy, it’s a mutual parting of ways, all is right with the world. However, they had to know that Bruce was going to talk to the media at some point, that he was going to point out how he basically “ had to leave” because they didn’t renew his contract. They had to realize that Ben or some other player was going to speak out about their displeasure with how things were going down. Art Rooney II side stepped questions before the announcement was made and after, trying to deflect the scrutiny that the media was digging for. That’s how they do things, regardless of how a situation pans out they will never reveal too much to anyone other than those that “need to know”.
Nobody can deny that the Steelers front office wants nothing but the best for the team. They keep the big picture in mind and don’t let any one player or coach take center stage with their own agenda. That’s how it should be. So the rumors that there is a power struggle or some internal tensions on the team are just simply blown way out of proportion. If Mike Tomlin was a “me first” type of coach, he would have never been hired for the job. He believes in the system and how it’s worked over the decades and he believes in how the Rooney’s run their team. The fact that Art II may have very well put his foot down here and made the decision to not bring back Arians is not a bad thing. It’s his team, his right to run it how he pleases. Arians’ was on borrowed time over the last 2 years as it was anyway. Steelers Chairman Dan Rooney spoke of needing to get back to running the ball more effectively at the time. The front office the coaching staff, specifically on offense, time to change how things were going when Ben went to bat for B.A., but eventually nothing changed and something had to be done. It’s not that the team is need of a total rework or that Ben needs to completely change his game, not at all. The Steelers are still full of talent and young at many positions, but some tweaking here and there can make a world of difference. When Ben was asked what he thought about Rooney’s comments of needing to tweak his game, he took them as him needing to take less hits, get rid of the ball. That’s exactly what it should be. You don’t need to fix Ben, he’s not broken, but everyone can evolve both on the field and off. Roethlisberger has proven he can do the latter, now we’ll see with the new coordinator if things evolve in his game on the field too.
What it all comes down to is that Art Rooney II decided a change needed to be made, he gave Arians and Tomlin time to adjust but it didn’t happen. High numbers on offense are fine but scoring points is paramount, Touchdowns in particular, and the Steelers clearly lacked in that area this season. He made the call, and Tomlin will be fine with it. Ben will talk with the front office, he’ll talk with Tomlin and they’ll all get on the same page when the time comes. There is no Jerry Jones situation in Pittsburgh.