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83-Steelers-43
02-08-2007, 09:14 AM
New coaching staff must get Big Ben back in high gear
Thursday, February 08, 2007

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

The primary job of the Steelers' new coaching staff? Resurrect the Ben Roethlisberger of 2004 and '05, when he was the best young quarterback in the NFL.

Roethlisberger will have a new center and perhaps as many as three different offensive linemen since last season. What he needs most is the kind of protection even the best of blockers cannot bring him -- one that prevents traffic accidents and emergency surgeries.

"We have an elite quarterback -- or someone who can be elite -- and we need to get him to that level," said Bruce Arians, who was promoted to replace Ken Whisenhunt as offensive coordinator.

It's the most important job that Arians and new quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson have, and it starts in March when the players begin their offseason program.

Roethlisberger has some big shoes to fill -- his own. He broke Dan Marino's rookie records in 2004, when he compiled the best starting record of any quarterback in the game's history by going 13-0. All he did his second season was become the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl. His combined passer rating in his first two seasons was a lofty 98.3.

He hit the ground with a thud last year, starting with his June 12 motorcycle accident and continuing with his appendectomy five days before the start of the regular season. His misfortune continued on the field, as he led the NFL with 23 interceptions -- more than his first two seasons combined -- and ranked in the bottom half of the league with a 74.8 passer rating.

The first remedy for what ails Roethlisberger is rest, said Arians, who believes his preseason trauma set the tone for a tough 2006.

"For him to even play after that was amazing. And to play as well as he did [at times], and one thing after the other. He needs to get back to being healthy and relaxed."

After that, Arians and Anderson will work on other procedures with Roethlisberger.

"We want to see him improve from the minute details of footwork all the way through his completion percentage and his touchdown/interception ratio, to get back to where he's one of the three or four elite guys in this league, because he has that ability."

Roethlisberger ranked 19th in the NFL by completing 59.7 percent of his passes last season (compared to 62.9 his first two seasons). He was minus-five in his TD/interception ratio after having a plus-14 in his first two seasons.

Arians and his offensive coaches are updating a playbook that became cumbersome over the past 15 years as six different coordinators added their own particulars to the original. It should help Roethlisberger calling plays and checking out of them.

"We'll streamline things that can come out of his mouth easier, that he can see more pictures with words [rather than] call exotic formations and not know where everybody's at," Arians said.

Now, for the rest of the players on offense.

"I think our personnel is more than adequate," Arians pronounced. "We've built some depth at some spots."

An overhaul could take place in the offensive line, with possibly three new starters -- at center, right guard and right tackle.

A new center will replace the retired Jeff Hartings from among the group of longtime backup Chukky Okobi, 2006 rookie Marvin Philip or starting right guard Kendall Simmons. Chris Kemoeatu will compete to become the starter at right guard and Willie Colon, who started the final two games of last season as a rookie, will compete with Max Starks at right tackle.

Simmons played two games at center for the first time in his life when Okobi was hurt last preseason.

"He looked good," Arians said. "It's an option that I like and I would like to explore more. He's a powerful, fast guy. We've got some guys in here at guard, where the competition will be real good. You just want to get as much competition at every spot as possible and find the five best."

Hartings made the switch from guard with the Detroit Lions to center when he signed with the Steelers in 2001 and replaced the retired Dermontti Dawson.

"Some guys can play with the ball between their legs, and some can't," Arians explained. "Kendall walked in there and looked natural at it. He could step and snap and go; that's the No. 1 hurdle. It's a viable option."

Marvel Smith will remain at left tackle and Alan Faneca at left guard.

"From the center through the right side, there's a lot of competition," Arians said. "We want to build some depth on that left side."

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/07039/760417-66.stm

alittlejazzbird
02-08-2007, 09:40 AM
Man, the more I read from these guys, the better I feel about next season. I can't WAIT!!!!!!!!!!

Infamix
02-08-2007, 09:57 AM
Man, the more I read from these guys, the better I feel about next season. I can't WAIT!!!!!!!!!!

I agree. I was skeptical at first but I'm liking things now.

Dragon
02-08-2007, 01:14 PM
Beginning to sound very good indeed

kyflash15
02-08-2007, 02:33 PM
Does this mean that we will focus on our line more in the draft? Do you all think we take Justin Blalock if we can't get Levi Brown? I love the fact that they want to work on Ben's footwork and all that..very good news!

atrus20
02-08-2007, 02:35 PM
"We'll streamline things that can come out of his mouth easier, that he can see more pictures with words [rather than] call exotic formations and not know where everybody's at," Arians said.

I like this idea. You could see at times since Ben started 3 years ago that he had no clue where people were supposed to be and just threw the ball where it was not intended to go. I just hope this works out as sometime people don't take change very well.

Max Power
02-08-2007, 03:28 PM
Well if we are about to re-write the playbook, that itself will make Ben's job a bit easier as things get simplified. It sounds as though our playbook was evolving over the last decade and was in bad need of repair. The old if it ain't broke don't fix it was in place. We'll see.

Preacher
02-08-2007, 04:25 PM
Well if we are about to re-write the playbook, that itself will make Ben's job a bit easier as things get simplified. It sounds as though our playbook was evolving over the last decade and was in bad need of repair. The old if it ain't broke don't fix it was in place. We'll see.


That was the problem with our offense... defense... ST... coaching philosophy... etc.

And people wonder why we let Grimm and Wiz go. They were part of that philosophy