View Full Version : Anderson, Steelers know each other well

03-06-2007, 01:51 PM

The fact Ken Anderson is in his first year as a Steelers assistant coach has no bearing on his familiarity with the team and how it likes to operate. You see, Anderson was a quarterback with the Cincinnati Bengals for 16 seasons starting in 1971, which translated into a lot of up-close-and-personal moments.

"I can remember the Monday night game where Keith Gary grabbed my facemask, and then there was the 4 o'clock game when Glen Edwards caught me out of bounds (with a forearm)," said Anderson. "There was the game when I completed 20 out of 22 passes, and one of the key plays that day was when we were inside the 20-yard line and going in to score again when our running back fumbled, Mike Wagner picked it up and started running. I chased him down to save a touchdown. I always kid Mike that he must not have had any speed if I caught him."

During Anderson's playing career, the Steelers were 18-15 against his Bengals, and there was a short span when Cincinnati was the second-best team in the NFL but unfortunate enough to be in the same division as the team that was the best.

In 1975, the Steelers won the AFC Central Division with a 12-2 record and went on to win Super Bowl X, for their second straight championship. That same season, the Bengals finished 11-3, and two of their losses were to the Steelers; and the Houston Oilers finished 10-4 with two of their losses to the Bengals.

"We were 11-3 in 1975 and a wild card," said Anderson. "There was a tremendous rivalry there, and every one of those (AFC Central Division games) was a big game."

Anderson was hired by Coach Mike Tomlin to be the team's quarterbacks coach, and he sees no paradox in working to help the franchise that authored so many miserable afternoons for him in those two stadiums on the banks of the Ohio River.

"People in Cincinnati may have a tough time with this, but you have to separate the two careers. You have to separate a playing career from a coaching career," said Anderson. "Certainly as a player, I'm always going to be a quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals; that was the only team I ever played for. But as a coach, you have total loyalty to the team that employs you, and that's the way it is with all the coaches on every team."

The way it is with all of the coaches on this team right now can be described by a single word: hectic. There are some holdovers from Bill Cowher's 2006 staff, and everyone is trying to blend in to form a staff faced with the task of getting the Steelers back among the elite teams in the league.

Anderson's area is the quarterbacks, and the nature of the football business assures that no other part of the team will be as scrutinized. What Anderson can bring to his meetings is an understanding of what it's like to stand in the pocket, what it's like to face a third-and-17, what it's like to know that stepping into a throw is going to propel your body into an on-coming defender and then stepping into the throw anyway.

Anderson did all of that, and he had to do it in an era when there were far fewer rules protecting the quarterback. His playing experience and what he accomplished as a player gives him credibility with the guys he'll be coaching, and then it will come down to getting his message across.

"It's all about having them prepared as well as they can be for the game on Sunday," said Anderson. "There's a whole process to go through to get to that point, where they're ready for Sunday. It starts with the offseason and the installation of the offense. I've been through a lot of it ? this is my 15th year coaching ? and the game has changed a lot since I played but I've been able to be a part of that change because the end of my playing career coincided with the beginning of my coaching career."

Anderson's playing career included some monumental tussles with the great Steelers teams of the 1970s. There was that game in 1974 when he completed 20-of-22 for 227 yards in a win over the Steelers in Cincinnati; in 1975 the Steelers swept the series, but in one of those games Anderson passed for 331 yards and three touchdowns while also getting sacked four times and throwing three interceptions; and in Super Bowl XVI the Bengals may have lost to the San Francisco 49ers, but he completed 25-of-34 for 300 yards with two touchdown passes and another touchdown rushing.

Obviously, Anderson has an intimate understanding of what it takes to be a successful NFL quarterback.

"It's about finding a way. Finding a way to win," said Anderson. "Guys do that with different styles, but that's how quarterbacks are judged. Ultimately you can look at statistics, but it comes down to how many games did you win. And since everybody is different, it's more a situation of finding out what your quarterback does well and then playing to his strengths."

Throughout the initial stage of his NFL career, Ben Roethlisberger has shown himself to be what's known in the business as a gamer, which means he has the ability to come up big in critical situations, such as those three games on the road during the 2005 playoffs. This is a quality Anderson believes all the great ones possess.

"There are guys who when the moment is right make the plays to win the game," said Anderson. "Guys have struggled for three quarters but find a way to make a play to win the game in the fourth quarter. Who are the great quarterbacks of all time? Near the top of that list has to be Otto Graham, because nobody won more championships than Otto Graham, and then you have to go with guys like Joe Montana and Terry Bradshaw, who also have multiple ones. Ultimately, that's the difference between a quarterback having a great career and a good career."

And the road to getting to that point, in Anderson's mind, is paved with fundamentals.

"Bill Walsh was my first position coach, but he coached quarterbacks, tight ends and wide receivers," said Anderson. "One of the things he taught me was the importance of the lower body in a quarterback being successful, being on balance in order to make throws. We spent a lot of time on drops, on the lower body and on balance in order to make the throws. That stuff is still applicable today.

"You work on fundamentals every day, every practice. It's got to be so ingrained that when you're playing a game on Sunday you're not thinking about your fundamentals. That's the case with any position on the field. That's why fundamentals and technique are so important, so that it becomes second nature. Then when you're in a game, and things are live, your fundamentals and techniques carry you through."


03-06-2007, 03:03 PM
Thanks, polamalufan43.

Anderson definately had game, even if he was a bungle. Now let's hope that translates into good coaching of our franchise player.

03-06-2007, 03:19 PM
Nice read. Remember Kenny well.

03-06-2007, 09:20 PM
Seemed like Kenny always killed us w/ the short passes....maybe he'll teach Ben that.

03-06-2007, 09:26 PM
Seemed like Kenny always killed us w/ the short passes....maybe he'll teach Ben that.

Maybe he can teach to throw it to the guys in black when you play at home and the guys in white when you are playing on the road.. i wonder all season if ben was color blind...b/c he always seemed to throw it to the wrong guy....:dang:

The Duke
03-06-2007, 09:33 PM
I get why Tomlin hired him, he has the same philosophy in football as him, all the excitement for the game and how he wants to give all he's got . Great read. I can't wait to see how Ben improves with this guy.

03-06-2007, 11:14 PM
People ragged on Kenny Anderson as a QB coach because of his tenures in Jacksonville and Cincinnati. In Jacksonville he had to deal with the always injured Byron Leftwich and managed to turn David Garrard into a servicable QB. In Cincy, he worked with QB's that were big draft busts in Akili Smith and David Kingler. They just didn't have it. I heard he did a good job with Jeff Blake though.

Now he has a real QB with all the intangibles and tons of talent in Ben Roethlisberger, who is already a proven winner. One of the more dangerous Bungles in history is now one of the Steelers. It's just...ironic.

03-07-2007, 06:34 AM
Now he has a real QB with all the intangibles and tons of talent in Ben Roethlisberger, who is already a proven winner. One of the more dangerous Bungles in history is now one of the Steelers. It's just...ironic.

That's what I first thought. It's weird how stuff goes down like that.


03-07-2007, 08:05 PM
He'll always be a Bengal, but now the Rooneys are paying his bills...its not personnal....it took me a long time to realize this, and how the NFL works now.

03-08-2007, 10:29 AM
I remember watching a lot of games where Kenny was the enemy. It's going to be weird knowing he's coaching Ben.

03-08-2007, 03:26 PM
I remember watching a lot of games where Kenny was the enemy. It's going to be weird knowing he's coaching Ben.

Well, if Ben does bad, you can count on a few Sabbotage Conspiracies