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Old 05-14-2006, 06:12 AM   #1
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Default Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix

Steelers Minicamp: Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix
Sunday, May 14, 2006

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Ben Roethlisberger sidles up to coach Bill Cowher almost daily and tells him the same old joke. Why not pass a little more next season?

"Every day, I kind of say something to coach Cowher, jokingly, hoping he'll take me seriously," Roethlisberger said midway through the Steelers' first two minicamp sessions yesterday.

Each day, Cowher smacks Roethlisberger's pass down as if he's a 6-foot-9 defensive end.

"I like his thinking and I want a quarterback to think that way," Cowher said yesterday, "but it will not alter our approach to the game."

The Steelers drafted a wide receiver on the first round and another on the third, and Cowher and coordinator Ken Whisenhunt made statements this spring that seemed to support a more open offense.

Cowher said drafting Holmes gives "Ben an opportunity to get a guy that can stretch the field." Whisenhunt said Roethlisberger has earned more chances to throw the way he played in the playoffs. Big Ben remains hopeful, yet skeptical.

"We've had something that's been working here, and that's running the ball," Roethlisberger said. "I think we'll always do that. I just hope every year they kind of gain more confidence in me and we can go out and continue to make it a balanced offense."

If the Steelers threw more often, "Maybe we can be more dangerous," Roethlisberger said. "Maybe we're more dangerous, maybe we're not as good. Who knows? You never know."

The consensus, strengthened by Whisenhunt's comments on Roethlisberger's playoff performance, is that the Steelers opened up the offense in the postseason on the way to their Super Bowl victory. In reality, they ran the ball more often.

The Steelers ran 57.1 percent of the time during the regular season. They increased that to 58.1 percent in the postseason. They opened up early with the pass at Indianapolis in the playoffs, but they did that any number of times during the regular season.

They beat the Cleveland Browns, 34-21, and threw 34 times with only 19 runs. They lost to the Cincinnati Bengals, 38-31, and threw 41 times with 28 runs. And even though they opened up early against the Colts in the playoffs, they wound up running 42 times and passing 24.

Cowher repeated yesterday an old refrain about the Steelers' run-pass ratio the past two seasons, when they ran the ball more than any team.

"You look at the end of the season and say you're 60 percent running the ball, then we're probably winning football games," Cowher said. "You look at the first half of games, we're a pretty balanced team. So, I think we have the ability to do whatever it takes.

"We will continue to do that and, if we get a lead, we will continue to take the air out of the ball."

Still, Roethlisberger would like to throw a little more often in 2006.

"Hopefully, they see that we can pass the ball and win if we have to. I hope it doesn't come down to if we have to do it, we do it. It would be great to be a 50-50 team and go out there and throw it around as much. Hines [Ward] would be the first to tell you that as well. We'll see what happens."

Roethlisberger threw his first passes to rookie Santonio Holmes, the team's first-round draft choice, yesterday.

"He has great hands, made a couple of good catches," Roethlisberger said. "He's still raw and has a couple of things to work on -- being able to be ready for the ball in the air before he comes out of his break. I talked to him a little bit about it today. He has one of the greats in Hines Ward to work under, so I think he'll be OK."

Ward said Holmes looked like everything that prompted the Steelers to draft him, including one diving catch for a ball thrown by Charlie Batch.

"He's a playmaker. He looks good. He made a couple of big catches today. That's what I saw on him in highlight tapes. Hopefully, he can go out there and continue to make plays and he's going to get better and better as he learns the offense and that will be big for our offense."

Holmes also had his first drop at the end of the afternoon practice, and he had his first carry as a Steeler, lugging Ward's helmet off the field and over to him in the locker room.

"That's the golden rookie rule," Ward said. "The rookie has to carry my helmet and shoulder pads wherever I go, for the rest of the year, until he makes this team."

In the meantime, the quarterback keeps carrying a torch, trying to shed light for a more open offense.
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Old 05-14-2006, 06:27 AM   #2
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Default Re: Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix

I would always expect Cowher to respond that way. Fact is the change has already started. Priority No. 1 wouldn`t have been a wr in the first round, if we werent slowly going that way. Don`t get me wrong, we will always run the ball, but we can now pass to set up the run, and not always visa versa.
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Old 05-14-2006, 06:33 AM   #3
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Default Re: Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix

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Originally Posted by clevestinks
I would always expect Cowher to respond that way. Fact is the change has already started. Priority No. 1 wouldn`t have been a wr in the first round, if we werent slowly going that way. Don`t get me wrong, we will always run the ball, but we can now pass to set up the run, and not always visa versa.
I'll agree with that. Even though Tommy Maddox was our starter at the time , I think Cowher will always have 2003 stuck in the back of his mind, which I feel is a good thing. He's not quick to state that we are an air-it-out strictly type of ball team. While I do feel we will throw a little more this season, I still feel balance is key.
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:01 AM   #4
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Default Re: Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix

Quote:
Originally Posted by clevestinks
I would always expect Cowher to respond that way. Fact is the change has already started. Priority No. 1 wouldn`t have been a wr in the first round, if we werent slowly going that way. Don`t get me wrong, we will always run the ball, but we can now pass to set up the run, and not always visa versa.
Yea I agree with you. But if we have a lead in the second half of games. Cowher will always shut down the passing game. I'm sure of that. But I do expect alittle more passing from the Steelers this year. Personally I would like to see a 50/50 run/pass ratio. But I think it will be a 55/45 run/pass ratio.

I just think Cowher might want to think about some of RB's health concerns at times. One way from saving our RB's from the constant pounding a Steeler's RB takes is by passing the ball more.
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:44 AM   #5
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Default Re: Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix

Can anyone see Ben just pulling back and letting one fly, even if the play was called a run from the sidelines. He seems to have that rebel side to him!
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Old 05-14-2006, 10:52 AM   #6
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Default Re: Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix

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Originally Posted by clevestinks
Can anyone see Ben just pulling back and letting one fly, even if the play was called a run from the sidelines. He seems to have that rebel side to him!
I could see Ben doing that. But I doubt he would do that. I think Ben has to much respect for Cowher to over ride him on a play call. I'm glad Ben has that rebel in him. Brett Favre has that rebel side. Broadway Joe had it. No offense to QB's Peyton Manning. Peyton is a great QB. But watching Peyton is like watching a robot on the field.
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Old 05-14-2006, 11:07 AM   #7
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Default Re: Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix

Even though Big Ben is 10x's the QB T. Maddox is or ever was you definitely don't want a repeat of 2003. Running to set up the pass is probably is a good formula, but every now and then they may need to change it up. Dynasty in the making?????
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Old 05-14-2006, 12:39 PM   #8
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Default Re: Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix

I wouldn't make much of what is being read in the papers, the Steelers will pass and pass often this year. Running is about controlling the clock, get a lead and run the time off, remember a good offense is the best defense. Maybe thats why so many offensive guys were picked this year...
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Old 05-14-2006, 02:45 PM   #9
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Cool Re: Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix

Quote:
Originally Posted by SteelProven
Even though Big Ben is 10x's the QB T. Maddox is or ever was you definitely don't want a repeat of 2003. Running to set up the pass is probably is a good formula, but every now and then they may need to change it up. Dynasty in the making?????
I agree with your comparison of Ben vs. Tommy wholeheartedly. Not sure about the dynasty part though. With F/A as strong as it is nowadays, it's just hard to keep a Team together like that. No matter what the player's values are you will have a small percentage of them that chase the big paycheck (ex;...A.R.E.). But I most definitely see a couple more trips to the Conference Championship and at least one more SB appearance this decade! We have too many outstanding parts that fit so well into this incredible machine not to do absolutely well in the near future.

Now, after saying all of that, I would still love to see a dynasty born under Bill, led by Ben and company. Is it possible? Oh Hell Yeah! I would just keel over from happiness to see our Black-and-Gold Warriors be the first Team with 6 Rings.

...........mannnnnnnnnn, wouldn't that be awesome?
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Old 05-14-2006, 02:50 PM   #10
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Default Re: Despite Big Ben, Cowher unlikely to alter offensive mix

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Originally Posted by SteelShooter
I agree with your comparison of Ben vs. Tommy wholeheartedly. Not sure about the dynasty part though. With F/A as strong as it is nowadays, it's just hard to keep a Team together like that. No matter what the player's values are you will have a small percentage of them that chase the big paycheck (ex;...A.R.E.). But I most definitely see a couple more trips to the Conference Championship and at least one more SB appearance this decade! We have too many outstanding parts that fit so well into this incredible machine not to do absolutely well in the near future.

Now, after saying all of that, I would still love to see a dynasty born under Bill, led by Ben and company. Is it possible? Oh Hell Yeah! I would just keel over from happiness to see our Black-and-Gold Warriors be the first Team with 6 Rings.

...........mannnnnnnnnn, wouldn't that be awesome?
I think the Steelers could win one or two more Super Bowls. Yea its hard to keep a championship team together in todays NFL. But the Steelers core players are still really young. We do have some big players becoming free agents in the future. Ike after this year and I also think Joey Porter will be also. Troy in 2007 and Big Ben in 2009. It will be a challenge to keep them all. But the Steelers always draft well and thats what helps stay pretty much in the hunt.
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