So much of this league is a what have you done for me lately, and for the Steelers, “the standard is the standard”. If you aren’t living up to the standard then you find someone who can. The Steelers are long known for getting rid of coaches and players when it’s just “the right time”. I tend to think it was the right time for a move like this to happen. With all the talent on offense, finishing barely over 50% in the redzone, and tied for 21st in the league in scoring just isn’t good enough. That’s not to say as Arians was totally to blame either. A poor offensive line in recent years certainly doesn’t help. Arians’ play calling wasn’t all bad either, generally between the 20’s the Steelers moved the ball well. However you have to finish off drives and the same old same old doesn’t get it done anymore. You can’t always score from the 50 yd line unfortunately. The Steelers could have done a lot worse than Arians over the last several years, but they can do better now too.
That being said, even though Arians hinted at retirement before the start of last season, I don’t think that was the underlying reason he’s gone now. Meaning, it wasn’t just his decision. Don’t underestimate the voice that Art Rooney II has and the influence he can push down on his staff.
Sure, he’s the owner, he has the right to say whatever he wants. Thank goodness he’s not like Jerry Jones down in Dallas, but regardless he’s no dummy when it comes to football. He realizes his 100 million dollar Quarterback is getting killed every week and he wants to protect his investment. It’s not like Arians was the total reason Ben was getting crushed every week, blame on the offensive line goes heavily here as well. I have little doubt that while Arians was probably tired of hearing the criticism, he still wanted to come back to some degree. His wife has been wanting him to retire for years now. In the end, you make a good case that the exodus of BA is due in large part because the Steelers front office felt it was time for a change.
Art II commented recently this offseason that he realizes this is a passing league. The Rooney’s know football, they realize that you have to be balanced and able to adapt. They wouldn’t be afraid to strongly suggest that something needs to change if they feel it’s necessary.
Mike Tomlin said in his season ending press conference that he expected both Arians and Lebeau to return, but that he realized change could take place. From that you initially thought that he was ok with the status quo. Lebeau said publically that he was coming back in 2012, but Arians kept quiet for the most part since the loss in Denver. As the days and weeks have passed since the loss, we saw more and more signs that Arians’ time in Pittsburgh was coming to an end. The most glaring was when Gerry Dulac wrote the article that ignited the firestorm that he may not return. While the Rooney’s aren’t ones to go public with their opinions on how the team is run, they aren’t in the dark either. The Steelers President spoke on a few occasions in recent days that a decision would be made between Bruce and Mike Tomlin. You just got the feeling from what you read and heard that something was about to happen. If you ask me, this was a situation where the team basically told Arians, “look we’d like to have you back but some things have to change”. He wasn’t in favor of changing his philosophy and basically that was that. They gave him the chance to walk away via retirement and he took it.
There’s wide spread speculation all over the Pittsburgh media and the SteelerNation that a situation similar to this was indeed how it went down. Whether or not you feel the same is up to you to decide, and that’s a great part of being a fan. In the end we will never know the true story but as of this afternoon it doesn’t matter. Arians is gone and we’ll have to see who comes in next and how much things will change. We got what we wanted, now let’s hope it works out.