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Friday, January 20, 2012
Steelers offense needs to set sights higher

By Jamison Hensley

When the Steelers hire a new offensive coordinator, Pittsburgh doesn't need to change Bruce Arians' offense. The Steelers just need to set their sights higher.

Arians, 59, who retired Friday, should be commended for transitioning a run-first offense into a pass heavy one that took advantage of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger's arm. The results, though, were disappointing when looking at Pittsburgh's talent at the skill positions.

With Roethlisberger's downfield passing and ability to extend plays, the Steelers have so many playmaking options: go deep to Mike Wallace, hit Antonio Brown over the middle or find Heath Miller down the seam.

There was no excuse for the Steelers to rank 12th in scoring in 2009 and 2010. And there was really no excuse for them to rank 21st this past season.

Pittsburgh only averaged 20.3 points per game this season and scored over 30 points three times. The Steelers might not have as much offensive talent as Green Bay or New Orleans, but they should be scoring as many points as Detroit (29.6-point average).

Instead, Pittsburgh finished among the dysfunctional offenses in terms of scoring. Of the 10 offenses that averaged fewer points than the Steelers, six had starting quarterbacks benched or injured for a significant amount of time (Arizona, Denver, Washington, Indianapolis, Kansas City and St. Louis). The other four offenses below Pittsburgh all endured seasons with struggling quarterbacks: Seattle's Tarvaris Jackson, Tampa Bay's Josh Freeman, Jacksonville's Blaine Gabbert and Cleveland's Colt McCoy.

Arians put together the right profile for this offense. Roethlisberger, who threw for more than 4,000 yards in two of the past three seasons, is proof of that.

The challenge for the next offensive coordinator is to take a good offense and make it a great one.