- Jamison Hensley, ESPN Staff Writer
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Every morning, grab a cup of coffee and get your AFC North wake-up call here:
A shocked Ben Roethlisberger wants answers from team president Art Rooney II following the "retirement" of offensive coordinator Bruce Arians.
"When I get back, I'm going to go up to Mr. Rooney's office and ask him what he wants from me, what he wants from this offense, because I think that's a viable question for him," Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review at the Pro Bowl in Honolulu. "He's our owner and our boss, so I really would like to know kind of what he wants and where he sees our offense going because I'd like to tell him where I see us going."
The Steelers announced Arians had retired, but he later said his contract wasn't renewed by the team. Arians had been the only offensive coordinator in coach Mike Tomlin's five seasons as Steelers head coach.
Roethlisberger, who is close with Arians, invited him to Hawaii as his guest for the Pro Bowl, but Arians decided not to go after he was no longer with the team.
Roethlisberger was described as being "miffed" by the timing of the Steelers' move with Arians.
"We feel like we are really close to being an elite offense," Roethlisberger told the Tribune-Review. "For your leader to be gone is kind of a shocker for us, but you've got to be ready for it, and whatever the Rooneys and coach Tomlin decide is our next step. I think the [Steelers'] mind was made up, and B.A. was kind of ready to move on as well."
Hensley's slant: Roethlisberger has to be worried about the direction of the offense. Team sources told ESPN's Chris Mortensen that Rooney wants the offense to go back to its blue-collar identity of the past. The trouble is, the Steelers are built to throw the ball with one of the best young and fast receiving groups in the league. You can criticize Arians' play calling. But it's hard to argue that the Steelers should go back to a run-first offense.
BENGALS: Mike Zimmer is returning for his fifth season as the Bengals defensive coordinator, the Cincinnati Enquirer reported, after the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Rutgers' Greg Schiano as their head coach. Zimmer also had been in the running for the Miami Dolphins job before Joe Philbin was hired. While Zimmer is coming back, defensive backs coach Kevin Coyle is expected to be named the Dolphins' defensive coordinator. Hensley's slant: If the Bengals had their way, this is how it would have played out. Cincinnati didn't want to lose Coyle, but it was more important to keep Zimmer. The Bengals defense will remain a top-10 one under his direction.
BROWNS: Brad Childress is close to becoming the Browns' offensive coordinator, sources told The Plain Dealer. For more, click on the AFC North blog posted last night. Hensley's slant: My take on the probable hiring will be posted shortly.
RAVENS: In his introductory news conference as the new Colts head coach, former Ravens defensive coordinator Chuck Pagano said he went from an all-time low -- the loss in the AFC championship game was his most devastating one ever -- to an all-time high. “As fate would have it, I’ve got to be honest with you, I thought for sure that I was going to be coming to Indy to play for a world championship," Pagano said, via The Indianapolis Star. "That’s what I thought I was going to be coming here for, and certainly not standing before you today as the next head football coach of the Indianapolis Colts." Hensley's slant: Don't be surprised if Pagano takes some Ravens with him. Pagano's first target should be outside linebacker Jarret Johnson, who will be a free agent, because he'll need a leader who can explain the defensive system to the other players. It would be like when Rex Ryan brought Bart Scott along to the New York Jets. Defensive line coach Clarence Brooks could also follow Pagano to Indianapolis.