On Tuesday, Ken Laird of ESPN Radio in Pittsburgh reported that the Steelers would be firing offensive coordinator Bruce Arians “in the near future.” As it turns out, Arians will be retained.
So what happened?
“My sources were from within the organization and very solid,” Laird told us via e-mail last night, “and they were convinced that Arians was going to be let go later in the week. There is clearly a differnce of opinion in the organization about the Arians offense, and it appears there was a change of heart in the 24 hours after the report.”
As Jim Wexell of SteelCityInsider.com explains it, there was a change of heart.
And it was prompted by quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
Per Wexell’s Twitter page, Big Ben threw a “Hail Mary” pass to save Arians’ job. But Wexell suggests that Arians wasn’t in danger of being fired until Arians leaked that he was going to be fired. Wexell says that Arians was under the impression he was being let go, that he sought confirmation from coach Mike Tomlin, that Tomlin brushed him off, and that Arians then assumed he was out.
The move makes sense, given that Wexell also points out that Arians is Roethlisberger’s best friend in the organization, and that they golf together. But we agree with Wexell on the import of the move — if Roethlisberger is able to save the job of a guy who predated Tomlin’s arrival at a time when two assistant coaches hired by Tomlin are being fired, the player has too much power.