Pro Quarterbacks

January 21, 2012 by staff 

Pro Quarterbacks, One of the hallmarks of Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin’s tenure has been the stability at the top of his coaching staff. Friday, that stability took a hit. Offensive coordinator Bruce Arians informed Tomlin he will retire, leaving the Steelers searching for someone new to run the offense.

“I appreciate his efforts over the past five years as the team’s offensive coordinator and for helping lead our offense to new heights,” Tomlin said in a statement released by the Steelers. “I am grateful to Bruce for contributing to our success and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.”

The move comes just two weeks after Tomlin said he expected both Arians and longtime defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to return for the 2012 season.

“I anticipate it, but, of course, we all understand what the end of the season is about, and movement is a part of it in today’s NFL for players and coaches,” Tomlin said at the time. “We are going to try to maintain continuity, like we always do. We believe that is a benefit to us, but we also understand that things can happen.”

Arians, 59, joined the Steelers in 2004 as their wide receivers coach after being fired as Cleveland’s offensive coordinator. He became Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator in 2007, when Tomlin replaced Bill Cowher as head coach.

Arians, who has a close relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, was part of a coaching staff that has taken the Steelers to three Super Bowls since 2005.

But his 2010 offense was a something of an enigma, ranking 12th in total yards and placing four players in the Pro Bowl, but tying for 21st in the league in scoring.

“We could be a lot better. One aspect of our game is to get better in the red zone,” said wide receiver Antonio Brown, the Steelers’ MVP. “We have to take that approach and mentality of wanting to be better into the offseason. Everyone has to go home. We all have to hold ourselves accountable. … We all have to push to be better.”

The Steelers will try to do that with a new offensive leader.

Candidates to replace Arians could include current Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, Green Bay quarterbacks coach Tom Clements, who held the same position in Pittsburgh, former Kansas City head coach Todd Haley, and former Indianapolis head coach Jim Caldwell.

Clements, who was a coach for the Steelers from 2001 to 2003, and Haley, whose father Dick was a longtime Steelers scout, each are Pittsburgh natives. Caldwell, meanwhile, has ties to Tomlin, having served as an assistant with him in Tampa Bay under head coach Tony Dungy.

Odds and end zones

The Steelers signed six players to Reserve/Future contracts, including former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Troy Smith. Smith played for Baltimore (2007-09), San Francisco (2010) and the Omaha Nighthawks of the United Football League in 2011. Also signed were cornerback Walter McFadden and wide receivers Tyler Beiler, David Gilreath, Derrick Williams and Jimmy Young. … Safety Troy Polamalu, who did not miss a game in 2011 because of injury, will skip the Pro Bowl.

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