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Who’s in charge? More running or more passing? Arians or Haley? Another day for the Steelers

Pittsburgh Steelers’ Head Football Coach Mike Tomlin has finally broken his seemingly self-imposed ‘vow of silence’ and in doing so has once again stirred up emotions regarding who calls the shots and just where the offense is headed in 2012.

Speaking publicly for the first time since the departure of Offensive Coordinator Bruce Arians and the hiring of Todd Haley to the same position, Tomlin made it clear that he is the one who made the decision. Many have speculated that this move is actually one from the top, meaning Art Rooney II is the one who pulled the trigger on these moves. “I’m not going to apologize for change,” said Tomlin speaking from the Owners’ meetings in Florida.

The sudden comments from Tomlin created a discussion on Twitter that sounded quite reminiscent to similar conversations had throughout the season regarding the direction of the offense and then-coordinator Bruce Arians. “Was it Arians or was it Tomlin or was it Rooney? Who is it that wants to ‘pound the ball’ again?”

There are growing factions inside Steelers Nation that believe Rooney is truly the one who ousted Arians and that Tomlin was simply being a ‘good solider’ today taking the heat. Art Rooney II has commented more than once that he would like to see a return to more traditional Steelers’ football which, correct me if I’m wrong, means three yards and a cloud of dust. Here are a couple of examples from the Twitter discussion from yesterday;

One tweet read: We should use 3 wide as a base offense. But I’m not sure Coach Art II agrees with it. He thinks running cures all.

A response: Committing to the ground game goes well beyond 1st down. Arians play calling on 3rd and short was putrid.

Another read:  Arians did what he was told. Commit to the ground game. 65% runs on 1st down in the RZ. “Stiller Football”. #Yoi

The above opinions come from two different Steelers’ fans but clearly show frustration and disapproval of just what went on last season. Clearly there is an opinion as well that Rooney II is the puppet master. Fans are not the only ones who choose sides in who calls the personnel shots either. Check out any number of local Pittsburgh reporters’ and journalists’ tweets and they are just as divided.

For an organization that is known throughout professional sports as one that prides itself on stability, just what does this signal? Personally, I don’t think there is much to worry about. Mike Tomlin does not strike me as the type of man who will allow himself to be nothing more than a puppet for Art II. I’ve been wrong before, but that’s just the way I’m reading things right now.

The NFL today is a league that thrives on the pass. This is the way the game has evolved and the way it always will. Let’s remember that the single-wing was once thought of as ‘revolutionary.’ I believe running the football is still vital to any team’s success, but in a different way than 10, 20 or 30 years ago. Running the ball today is about ‘balance’ and timing. Not balance in the sense of 50/50 run to pass, but balance in the sense of being able to move the ball on the ground when needed. Can you get a yard when you need to? This is something that plagued the Steelers under Bruce Arians. Yes, I can hear the screams of “But our line sucks!!!”  And I can’t dismiss them because we desperately need to upgrade there, but how much is talent vs. scheme vs. coaching? Bottom line is that we must do better running the ball more effectively. I don’t worry about total yards rushing; I look at yards per carry. That tells me how effective we are running the football.

What we’ve learned more than anything in the offseason of 2012 is that we cannot see into the future and we really don’t and won’t have all the answers as to who makes certain decisions on the South side of Pittsburgh. Debates such as these will rage on into the future fired by social media and the internet at break-neck speeds. What we can all agree on however, is that achieving #7 is the goal for us all.

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