Steelers' offense still a work in progress
CommentaryBy Mike Ciarochi
Updated 09/17/2007 01:00:43 AM EDT
PITTSBURGH - Steelers coach Mike Tomlin would be the first to tell you his offense, in particular his passing offense, is a work in progress.
Coordinator Bruce Arians would be the second, followed closely by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The same threesome would tell you that Mondays, not Sundays, is the day when critiques are written, with perfection being the ultimate, albeit unachievable, goal.
"We left some plays out there today," Tomlin allowed. "We go out there and play on Sundays and we play to win. Style points are things that we analyze on Mondays. We had Hines (Ward) out there early for a potential touchdown, but we didn't get the ball to him for whatever reason. We threw the ball out to Dan (Kreider) in the flat, but we weren't able to connect with him. It is week two. Thankfully, we are 2-0, but hopefully we can get better and that is our intention."
But while the Steelers found the end zone only twice and only once through the air, there is plenty to be happy about with Arians' passing offense.
A week ago, Roethlisberger completed only 12 passes, but he found six different receivers, including two tight ends, and had four touchdown passes.
This week, Roethlisberger completed 21 passes and found nine different receivers, including two tight ends and three running backs.
"It's good to spread the ball around," Roethlisberger said. "Everyone I can think of caught a ball tonight and that's my goal going into every game, to try to get everybody at least one ball."
"You have to credit that to Bruce Arians," Ward said. "Being our receivers coach the last three or four years, he understands his personnel and puts guys in position to make plays. That's fun. It's fun for everybody because everybody feels like they are involved in the game. We have to continue to go out there and grow as a unit."
What's most intriguing about the Steelers passing game is that Arians has been true to his word. When Pittsburgh selected Matt Spaeth, Arians told a roomful of reporters that he was a "three-tight end guy." We had all heard that too many times before to take Arians at face value. But the early results show that, yes, he wants Roethlisberger to throw to the tight ends.
Spaeth scored his second touchdown of the season and has caught three passes. Miller, the first-round draft pick, has caught six passes and scored a touchdown last week at Cleveland. That adds up to nine catches for tight ends among 33 total receptions, which is an excellent indicator that Arians wasn't just talking back on draft day.
Roethlisberger has been given more responsibilities in this offense and, while the results so far have been good, he isn't even close to being satisfied.
"In fact, I told Bruce tonight that this wasn't our best game and that there were plays where I wasn't as good as I should have been and there were times when we should have called different things.
"It wasn't our best game and we still got the win. It's reassuring to know how much better we feel we can get."
Reassuring is a very good word to describe the confidence this offense is developing in its quarterback and its coordinator. That's what happens when everybody gets involved and stays involved.
Sports editor Mike Ciarochi may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org