View Full Version : Arians deals with animosity of a tough job

12-07-2008, 11:37 PM
Arians deals with animosity of a tough job
Sunday, December 07, 2008
By Ron Cook, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Don't think for one second that you're the first football fan to take Bruce Arians' name in vain. "For me, it was worse [as head coach] at Temple," he said last week. "My kids were younger then. They had to go to grade school and hear that their father was an idiot."

The difference now is the animosity is more far-reaching. At least that's what Arians, the Steelers' offensive coordinator, has been told. He learned a long time ago not to step into the Internet's dangerous chat rooms or the insane world of talk radio.

Smart man.

Now if Arians can just convince his brother, Bert ...

"My bloggin' brother," he called him, practically snickering.

"He'll call me and say, 'Do you have any idea what they're saying about you out there?' I just tell him, 'Dude, don't read that stuff. It'll drive you nuts.'

"I don't take any of it personally. You can't. If you do, it'll make you crazy."

Arians has been in coaching a long time, 34 years in all, 16 in the NFL. The Steelers are his 11th stop. He knows the drill. The quarterback is the easiest target in any pro town because of his high visibility and big contract. The offensive coordinator comes next because, well, everyone -- absolutely, everyone -- thinks they can call the plays.

"If we run, they want to know why we didn't pass. If we pass, they want to know why we didn't run," Arians said.

"You either embrace everything that goes with the job or it eats you up. I've seen it eat up a lot of young quarterbacks."

How about offensive coordinators?

"I'm not young anymore," Arians said, grinning.

"I embrace it. I love it."

It helps that the Steelers are 9-3 and in first place in the AFC North Division going into their home game today against the Dallas Cowboys. "You can do what you want with any statistics," said Arians, 56. "The only statistic that matters to me is 9-3."

It also helps that the Steelers are playing a little better offensively. They had the ball for more than 35 minutes in each of the past three games, all wins. They averaged 133 rushing yards in those three games. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw three touchdown passes and just one interception after throwing 10 and 11 in the first nine games. He was sacked five times after the team allowed 31 sacks in the first nine games.

And it helps that the Steelers are as healthy offensively as they've been all season. Roethlisberger's shoulder appears to be better and he's throwing the deep ball with greater ease. Running back Willie Parker's knee seems better and he gives the team a nice one-two rushing kick with Mewelde Moore. Invaluable tight end Heath Miller is fine after missing two games with an ankle sprain. The offensive linemen will be together today for the eighth consecutive game since tackle Max Starks replaced injured Marvel Smith, one week after guard Darnell Stapleton took over for injured Kendall Simmons.

"The cohesiveness is there," Arians said of the linemen, who have been criticized almost as much as he has. "They're playing at a nice level right now. They're playing Steeler football."

The pressure is on Arians, Roethlisberger, the line and the rest of the offense for the improvement to continue. The Steelers' defense is the best in the NFL. You know what unit will get the blame if the team fails to win the division or goes out early in the playoffs.

"That's not pressure," Arians said. "Pressure is when you're not prepared. I know we're going to be prepared. ...

"We just have to be smart about what we're doing. We can't turn the ball over or put our defense in a bad spot. We've got to keep possession of the ball for 35 minutes the way we have been. If we start having too many three-and-outs in a row, we're not going to have the No. 1 defense for long."

Arians clearly is confident. He said he seldom second-guesses his play calls. That gives us something in common. I blamed him early in the season for not doing much to adjust to the Philadelphia Eagles' all-out blitzing during a 15-6 loss. But I respect his knowledge of the game, the time he puts in and the way he works with Roethlisberger. I also realize that a play call isn't bad just because it doesn't work. Sometimes, the defense executes better. Those guys get paid, too.

Apparently, that understanding gives me something in common with Steelers coach Mike Tomlin.

"Mike has been great, great to work for," Arians said. "He's smart in every aspect of football. But he was a wide receiver. He knows offense. Sometimes, it's hard calling plays for a defensive head coach."

Not nearly as hard as for the fans, though.

Arians can't get away from that even in the summer when he's off the clock.

"You should hear my golfing buddies at Treesdale," he said. "They'll say, 'Why did you call that play in the so-and-so game? Is that the play you really wanted to call? Geez, what were you thinking?' "

You should have seen the man laugh.

Make no mistake, he embraces the job.

Ron Cook can be reached at rcook@post-gazette.com.
First published on December 7, 2008 at 12:00 am

12-08-2008, 11:20 AM
This paragraph sums it up nicely. I would add that many times the offense doesn't execute either. A dropped ball. A RB or OL who slip. A missed assignment. This is truly, as Cowher always loved to say, a game of inches:

But I respect his knowledge of the game, the time he puts in and the way he works with Roethlisberger. I also realize that a play call isn't bad just because it doesn't work. Sometimes, the defense executes better. Those guys get paid, too.

12-08-2008, 02:43 PM
I'm going to send him a letter that says "Fire Arians", maybe that will help :noidea: