In the event there was any lingering doubt as to how Bruce Arians came to be known as the former offensive coordinator of the Steelers, Art Rooney II, in an interview conducted by Steelers Digest
editor Bob Labriola posted recently on Steelers.com, issued a "non-denial denial."
Labriola: "Bruce Arians retired. There are reports out there that you are the guy who retired him. What's your take on that?"
Rooney II: "I think the questions of how we got here are not really relevant."
Rooney II went on to explain that the Steelers are "looking to improve on offense and to have somebody possibly that can be in place for a number of years," and that Arians "had talked about retiring for a few years now.
"I think it was time for a change," Rooney concluded. "We're looking forward to moving on."
One NFL source told me last week Arians' exit had been at Dan Rooney's behest. Art Rooney's response to Labriola's question clearly made no attempt to wipe any Rooney fingerprints from the scene without going as far as to confirm such evidence.
So be it.
It is time for a change. And a change needed to be made not because of how the offense performed under Arians but because of the price that's been extracted on quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Prior to chatting with Labriola, Rooney II had let it be known he'd like to see a "tweak" in Roethlisberger's game. Rooney II elaborated a week ago during a visit with the DVE Morning Show.
"No matter what we do we probably are going to continue to be a team that has more sacks than maybe the average … I think the key is just for Ben to not take the unnecessary sack and just try to get rid of the ball a little sooner on occasion."
Rooney wasn't the first to call for such an adjustment in recent seasons, but he's the first with enough juice to see that such an adjustment occurs.
And along those lines there was an obvious disconnect between the team president and the former offensive coordinator.
Consider what Arians had said following the Tennessee game back in October when asked how difficult it can be to get Roethlisberger to get rid of the ball more quickly on occasion:
"I don't ever tell him that, never. ‘Play football the way you know how to play because nobody in this league played it better than you for the first eight years of their career.
Why would you change how you play this game?' That's what I told him. You're the best there is, as young as you are. Why would you change how you play just because other people think you get sacked too much?"
Roethlisberger, not surprisingly, has been equally resistant to evolving his game. Here's what he had to say on the subject after the Houston game last season:
"I play every game like it's my last. I don't sit there and say, ‘OK, I'm going to play for year 15 and year 16. If this is my last year this is my last year. That's the way I play the game. I play the game like every game could be my last. I play the game a certain way and I don't want to change that. People talk about getting the ball out of your hand faster, do this do that. I've been saying this game pretty successfully, I think, for the last seven years, done a decent job. We'll just play the game the way we know how."
Repairing that disconnect is the most important thing the Steelers can achieve this offseason. And that just wasn't going to happen under the old OC.
Mike Prisuta has supported Bruce Arians in the past, but agrees with the Steelers that it was time for a change at offensive coordinator. He explains inside.
Prisuta agrees that a change at offensive coordinator best for Steelers.