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Old 01-07-2010, 06:35 AM   #1
mesaSteeler
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Default Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers

Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt...s_661043.html#
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, January 7, 2010

Larry Zierlein is out as the Steelers' offensive line coach, but Bruce Arians is apparently staying for at least one more season as the team's offensive coordinator.

Zierlein, the first member of Mike Tomlin's staff to get fired since Tomlin took over as coach of the Steelers in 2007, cleaned out his office Wednesday. He left the team's South Side practice facility shortly after noon yesterday carrying several boxes.

"Shocked and disappointed," Steelers left guard Chris Kemoeatu said of Zierlein's dismissal. "We've been through a lot with Coach Z. He's like a father figure to us."

Starting right tackle Willie Colon said he was "somewhat shocked" about Zierlein getting fired.

"He was 100 percent committed to making us better," Colon said.

The Steelers did not make an official announcement regarding their staff on Wednesday.

Uncertainty has hung over the Steelers since Tuesday, when Tomlin said he was considering making changes to his coaching staff after the team went 9-7 and missed the playoffs.

Kemoeatu arrived at the practice facility yesterday afternoon expecting to meet with Zierlein.

Instead, Arians, whom 1250 ESPN reported Tuesday was in serious jeopardy of losing his job, gave Kemoeatu the news about Zierlein's dismissal.

Arians also told Kemoeatu to take care of his body and get ready for next season. Kemoeatu took their meeting as a strong signal that Arians will return next season.

Tomlin may not make any more changes to his staff, although he has yet to talk to all of his assistant coaches individually. Tomlin has been conducting exit interviews with his players and coaches all week.

The Steelers had already lost quarterback coach Ken Anderson to retirement before Tomlin parted ways with Zierlein, whom he coached with at the University of Cincinnati in 1999-2000.

During his three seasons with the Steelers, Zierlein had been a target for criticism for several reasons. The Steelers have not had an overpowering running game, and the offensive line has struggled in short-yardage situations.

It also hasn't distinguished itself when it comes to keeping franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger upright. Roethlisberger, a fierce defender of the offensive line, has been sacked 156 times since 2007, which includes the playoffs.

Tomlin said earlier this week that he will "rectify" the number of hits Roethlisberger takes.

That may have factored into his decision to go in another direction when it comes to the offensive line.

"You don't wish that on anyone," Kemoeatu said of Zierlein's firing. "This is the business side of the NFL."

That reality didn't make it any easier for Kemoeatu, who seemed like he has taken the equivalent of a blind-side hit late yesterday afternoon.

The 6-3, 344-pounder became a starter in 2008, taking over for perennial Pro Bowler Alan Faneca at left guard, and he has developed into a premier run-blocker.

Kemoeatu, who is a fourth alternate at guard for the AFC Pro Bowl team, said Zierlein played a significant role in his growth.

"I'm not a real vocal guy," said Kemoeatu, who turned 27 on Monday. "Coach Z was really one of the guys that had to make me talk."

Kemoeatu couldn't help but wonder what would have happened with Zierlein had the Steelers made the playoffs and made another run at the Super Bowl.

"We deserve better than this season," he said, "and coach Z deserved better than this."

Staff writer John Harris contributed to this report.

Scott Brown can be reached at sbrown@tribweb.com or 412-481-5432.
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Old 01-07-2010, 06:42 AM   #2
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Default Re: Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers

Maybe I am wrong, but I am totally glad to see the guy go. I was hoping that he would be following Bruce Arians but sounds like that's not gonna happen. Now, I realize that probably 30 or more of the 50 sacks that Ben took this year was his own fault, but our running game has to improve and it did a little bit this year, but its time for change for sure. I am curious to see how much longer they allow the special teams coach to draw a check.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:51 AM   #3
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Default Re: Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers

I doubt that many guys like to see their position coach let go. Experienced guy, good teacher, war vet and all.....but sometimes nice guys are not the best coach.

I think it was pretty clear midway thru the 2008 season that Coach Z didnt have the O line playing thru the whistle, they were confused in blitz pickup and some assignments and while it got a bit better this year.....the same lapses occurred again.

I think it was a move that had to be made, but I think the sack total will probably be 45 next year. Its combination of how Ben plays and the offense that is run for the most part.
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Old 01-07-2010, 10:58 AM   #4
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Default Re: Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers

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I doubt that many guys like to see their position coach let go. Experienced guy, good teacher, war vet and all.....but sometimes nice guys are not the best coach.

I think it was pretty clear midway thru the 2008 season that Coach Z didnt have the O line playing thru the whistle, they were confused in blitz pickup and some assignments and while it got a bit better this year.....the same lapses occurred again.

I think it was a move that had to be made, but I think the sack total will probably be 45 next year. Its combination of how Ben plays and the offense that is run for the most part.
You've got to wonder why Ligashevsky hasn't been let go. Maybe he hasn't met with Tomlin yet. I hope it's the only reason. I recognize that some progress has been made in STs after the debacle but the debacle shouldn't have happened in the first place.
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Old 01-07-2010, 11:09 AM   #5
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Default Re: Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers

Yeah, I think its pretty clear that Ligs got outcoached by most in the league with the new rules that prevented 3-man wedge blocking on kickoffs. I too am surprised that the announcement hasnt been made, but pretty sure that it will.
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Old 01-07-2010, 01:34 PM   #6
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Default Re: Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers

Well yes of course the entire OL did not want coach Z to go. He was their teacher and coach for years and regardless of how good or bad they were. Now is a time for change and just like coach Z whoever his replacement is will be welcomed and hopefully a great coach for them as well.
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Old 01-07-2010, 03:49 PM   #7
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Default Re: Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers

"He was 100 percent committed to making us better," Colon said.
he may have givin a 100% but it sure didnt show on the field.
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:19 PM   #8
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Default Re: Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers

I wouldn't expect the OL players to say they are happy with Larry Zierlein getting fired. He was their position coach and IMO they did play much better this season compared to the Super Bowl season.

While I am glad that he was terminated, can anyone truly expect the sack numbers to decline just by bringing in a new OL coach? Ben Roethlisberger is not going to change the way he plays football and yes he should be blamed for a lot of the sacks. Let's not forget that when Russ Grimm was here in 2006, Ben was still sacked 46 times and that was when we still had Alan Faneca and Jeff Hartings.

Hopefully Mike Tomlin can find a very good OL coach and we get rid of the zone blocking scheme. Let's use a system for the players we have.

While I don't like the decision to retain Bruce Arians, I just hope that Mike Tomlin had a very deep and convincing conversation with Bruce and stated that he will take more control if the red zone numbers and situational football doesn't improve like 3rd down conversions and short yardage situations.
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Old 01-08-2010, 01:34 PM   #9
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Default Re: Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers

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While I don't like the decision to retain Bruce Arians, I just hope that Mike Tomlin had a very deep and convincing conversation with Bruce and stated that he will take more control if the red zone numbers and situational football doesn't improve like 3rd down conversions and short yardage situations.
I hope he will also ask him to reduce the number of sacks. Over 300yds lost on sacks this season. That's too much.
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Old 01-08-2010, 05:37 PM   #10
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Default Re: Zierlein out, Arians likely in with Steelers

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I hope he will also ask him to reduce the number of sacks. Over 300yds lost on sacks this season. That's too much.
That is a lot of yardage. Thanks for pointing that out. I am sure Mike Tomlin and the new QB coach will focus on trying to prolong Ben's career and take less abuse from the opponents defense. That might be a tough task though.
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