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Roethlisberger could be making a power play for Fichtner

ROETHLISBERGER ROONEY AP

So why is Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger planning to park his rear end on the other side of Art Rooney’s desk and ask hard questions about the future of the offense?

It could be that Roethlisberger wants to ensure that quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner replaces Bruce Arians as the next offensive coordinator of the Steelers.

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 said recently.  “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.”

Roethlisberger surely sees the offense going toward Fichtner, who has joined Ben in Hawaii for the Pro Bowl and who has worked with the quarterback since 2007, when coach Mike Tomlin hired him.  Fichtner previously ran a spread offense at Memphis, and Peter King explained last night on NBC SportsTalk that Fichtner was instrumental in helping Roethsliberger reintegrate into the roster after a four-game suspension to start the 2010 season.

And so the deeper question is whether Rooney wants to change the offense, or whether he simply wanted to change the coordinator.  If it was a matter of dumping Bruce Arians and promoting Fichtner, the move probably would have happened by now.

Some may wonder why Rooney would possibly want to retreat to a more traditional Steelers attack — play great defense, run the ball extensively, and pass selectively not extensively.  That would seem to be an unusual decision, given the presence of three very good young receivers:  Mike Wallace, 2011 team MVP Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders.

But here’s the thing.  Receivers who catch a lot of passes eventually command a lot of money.  So if the Steelers continue to stretch the field, it could force them to stretch their wallet and/or salary cap in order to keep the pieces in place.  Competent running backs, generally speaking, are much cheaper, more interchangeable, and far easier to find.

Rooney offered no concrete clues during a recent interview with Steelers Digest editor Bob Labriola when commenting on the fact that the two Super Bowl teams have quarterbacks who passed for more than 10,000 yards combined this season and defenses that landed near the bottom of the league.

“There’s no question the league is changing and the league’s always evolving,” Rooney said.  “And there’s no doubt that I think we’ve seen quarterback play in general this year at maybe the highest level we’ve ever seen it, from a number of players.  And so number one I think we’re fortunate to have a lot of very good quarterbacks in the league right now.  Number two, the rules have changed to allow more prolific passers.  And so I think that’s what we’re looking for for our quarterback, to be up there with the elite quarterbacks and to have that kind of production.  And so I think you have to recognize all those facts.

“The other side of the coin is I think if you look at these playoffs so far, we’re not seeing teams scoring 30 and 40 points a game.  And so I think you have to remember what playoff football is all about.  Defense still is a big part of the game.  And the games that we’ve seen for far in the playoffs, the defenses have made big plays.  And as I say, the scoring has been fairly consistent with past playoffs.  And so I think the game is evolving, but maybe not to the degree that some people would like to play it.”

Apart from the fact that the Giants scored 37 at Lambeau Field and the Pats scored 45 against the Broncos, who scored one point less than 30 against the Steelers, and the 49ers and Saints combined for 68 points and the Saints and Lions cominbed for 73 points, Rooney seems to be struggling to reconcile the recent explosion in offense with the time-honored notion that defense wins championships.

Of course, there’s also a chance that Rooney wants to continue to stretch the field, but that he doesn’t believe Fichtner is the right guy to orchestrate the attack.  Either way, these decisions about the future of the Steelers offense seem to be coming not from the top of the coaching staff, but from the top of the organization.  And it’ll be interesting to see whether Roethlisberger likes what he hears when he plops his caboose in Art Rooney’s office.

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42 Responses to “Roethlisberger could be making a power play for Fichtner”
  1. ravenscaps48 says: Jan 28, 2012 10:14 AM

    This guy becomes Offensive Coordinator and Charlie Batch becomes QB Coach

  2. brokea$$lovesmesomeme says: Jan 28, 2012 10:15 AM

    Heres what he wants Ben, shut up and play, quit assaulting women and do what he pays you to do

  3. njhitman says: Jan 28, 2012 10:15 AM

    Where all the Raven fans talking about how great their offensive coordinator is and that they have the 8th wonder of the world for a QB . You know the one’s that can only bring up how the beat Pitt twice this year and their watch the big show from the same place Pitt players are HOME

  4. j972 says: Jan 28, 2012 10:18 AM

    Brilliant…asking Rooney what he wants from the offense.

  5. chicagosundevil says: Jan 28, 2012 10:24 AM

    Since when did the Steelers offense become such a story?

  6. mattolikesthevikes says: Jan 28, 2012 10:25 AM

    brokea$$lovesmesomeme says:
    Jan 28, 2012 10:15 AM
    Heres what he wants Ben, shut up and play, quit assaulting women and do what he pays you to do
    _________________________

    Pretty much sums it up right there.

  7. chadmurdigan says: Jan 28, 2012 10:32 AM

    Ahhh, are you saying the Steelers are cheapskates when it comes to paying players and that good running backs are a dime a dozen while good receivers make MSNBC sports analyst money?

  8. Ricardo Grande says: Jan 28, 2012 10:40 AM

    He’ll limp into Rooney’s office…

  9. painkiller20 says: Jan 28, 2012 10:42 AM

    @njhitman says: Jan 28, 2012 10:15 AM

    Where all the Raven fans talking about how great their offensive coordinator is and that they have the 8th wonder of the world for a QB.

    I want what you’re on, because EVERYONE in Baltimore hates their offensive coordinator.

  10. clayton43 says: Jan 28, 2012 10:44 AM

    Alot off Steelers fans agree with Mr Rooney and feel a change was needed… WE no longer were a threat in the running game.. passing on 3rd and 1 and 2 alot more than we should. I dont think he nor Steelers fans are expeccting to run the ball 40 times a game, but not having faith in your running game ( Ariens ) never used a true fullback and sometimes left you scratching your head as to why some plays were called. I think they are just taking thier time but I see the QB coach becoming the OC because of relationship with Tomlin and BB.

  11. sportsinhd says: Jan 28, 2012 10:52 AM

    I’m a little worried that Art Rooney thinks he should be coaching the team. With a boatload of injuries last season the Steelers went 12-4. Yeah, parts of that team are aging, but the window is going to be open for the next couple of years.

    This Steeler team needs to be built around the offense, especially Ben, Wallace, and Brown. To think otherwise will have the Steelers contending with the Browns for bottom of the division.

  12. mook68 says: Jan 28, 2012 10:55 AM

    I would love to be a fly on the wall for the Ben-Rooney meeting! How does Ben try a powerplay against an organization that has stood by him through all of his crap?

  13. 33rdasylum says: Jan 28, 2012 10:56 AM

    Where is Tomlin in all of this?
    Isn’t he like the Head Coach or something?

  14. redguy12588 says: Jan 28, 2012 10:56 AM

    Fichtner is already widely considered the favorite. There’s a whole lot of speculation here. Steelers have all the pieces to be a great passing attack

  15. gpatrick15 says: Jan 28, 2012 11:01 AM

    Ravens fas HATE cam cameron. He might be the least liked person in MD. I’m a steeler fan, but I thought it was glaringly obvious that they hate cameron.

  16. pozone6031 says: Jan 28, 2012 11:03 AM

    It was time for Arians to go. Bring back a fullback. Pass but make running a threat again. I want ARII to tell Ben all he is is an employee. Go do what you are getting paid to do play QB not run the organization.

  17. jsprunner says: Jan 28, 2012 11:06 AM

    One of the oldest management moves in the world. Tomlin and Rooney agreed Arians had to go, but they wanted to preserve Tomlin’s relationship with Ben because they knew he’d be upset. Thus, Rooney is taking the heat and the questions while Tomlin avoids direct hits. When you say you are going to get back to running the ball more effectively for 3 straight years, and it never happens, nobody should be surprised at this turn of events.

  18. CKL says: Jan 28, 2012 11:07 AM

    And so I think the game is evolving, but maybe not to the degree that some people would like to play it.”
    ……………………………………………………………….
    Mr. Rooney, the best thing you could do is get onto the Competition Committee. Mr. “Pass first rules” lover Polian is gone now and I like your idea of football better, so go for it!

  19. caseyanthonymunoz says: Jan 28, 2012 11:11 AM

    Gronkowski’s ankle seems to be in horrible condition after his injury. But its funny how he and the Patriots aren’t calling press conferences to talk about it. See Ben, not everybody is drama queen who feels the need to exaggerate injuries.

  20. cliverush says: Jan 28, 2012 11:23 AM

    I do not think he is going to like hearing, “Get the hell out of here”.

  21. ravenfan820 says: Jan 28, 2012 11:24 AM

    I thouht all of stiller nation thought the Rooneys were gods?

    If they have such great football minds could be that the Rooneys do not think ben is the eltie qb the rest of you think he is…..

  22. ridingwithnohandlebars says: Jan 28, 2012 11:26 AM

    Ricardo Grande says: Jan 28, 2012 10:40 AM

    He’ll limp into Rooney’s office…

    …wearing two different colored shoes.

  23. stampnhawk says: Jan 28, 2012 11:36 AM

    Interesting to see through all this, the “me me” attitude from Roethelsberger.

    The Steelers, likely thanks to success on the field, and Rooneys with their influence personally and league wide, clearly have done a good job at muting this guys attitude issues and outbursts over the years and keeping it all in house and under wraps.

    But, suddenly Ben really doesn’t get what he wants, and instead of taking it like a professional and a man, or at very least, quietly pouting about it, it turns to something personal and no amount of organizational soothing stops him from lashing out.

    Gives one insight into his Georgia bathroom incident with the one girl who said no originally, then no again, but he demanded anyways and then just took. Same with the Vegas incident where his “broken TV” turned into a similar situation and Ben wanted something that someone else didn’t, but he got his way in the end.

    Just another example of his selfish, egotistical, self serving personality which is probably going to get worse before it gets better as his skills decline but still still expects everything in football and life, given to him the way he demands.

  24. myspaceyourface says: Jan 28, 2012 11:42 AM

    Ben does need to shut up and do what his coaches want him to do.

    I’m a Steelers fan and I realize that Arians let Ben do whatever he wanted to do and that’s why our offense was not creative and very predictable.

    We need a coach that will stand up to Ben and restore his mechanics. He has gone down hill the last 4 years. He used to get the ball out quick and now he holds onto it.

    Don’t know what the problem is, but the answer isn’t allowing Ben to tell Mr. Rooney or anyone else how to run the team.

    You play, let them coach and run the team.

  25. myspaceyourface says: Jan 28, 2012 11:49 AM

    I don’t care what Ben says, the Steelers need to interview Todd Hailey. He won’t take crap from Ben.

  26. knowerofallthings says: Jan 28, 2012 11:50 AM

    with their cap issues, it won’t matter anyway. Have fun looking up at the Ravens and Bengals for the next few years.

  27. johntonioholmes says: Jan 28, 2012 11:54 AM

    Arians actually had gotten better at calling games. Occasionally, he would call a gem of a game (NE this year and both games against the Jets last year were well-called).

    I just never understood why, when the Steelers ran the ball effectively for 4 or 5 plays in a row (a rarity this season), that they would line up in 5 wide for the next 3 plays. I know it’s old school, but even the Pats and the Saints will at least put a RB in he backfield to make the defense THINK that there might be another running play.

    I don’t expect run, run, run, PA pass, even though that has been the standard for the Steelers. But their o-line is not good enough to let defenses know what is happening. An empty backfield has resulted in a lot of sacks.

    Roethlisberger and those wide receivers are good enough for 40 pass-plays a game. That offensive line is more conducive to 20 pass-plays a game.

  28. Deb says: Jan 28, 2012 12:20 PM

    Anyone who’s listened to the actual interview knows Ben spoke respectfully of Mr. Rooney and of wanting to make sure he’s delivering what the boss wants. Continuing to imply otherwise is just more of the click magnetry at which you guys excel.

    @CKL …

    Cowher was on the Competition Committee, and I’d love to see Tomlin get Polian’s spot.

  29. ravenution says: Jan 28, 2012 12:28 PM

    Steeler fans still yapping away despite their brief playoff appearance. Steelers are on major decline.

    Next year, Ravens will own AFC North again.

  30. Bubby Brister says: Jan 28, 2012 12:34 PM

    I love when yinzers think they know how to run the organization better than the ones who put a winning product on the field every single year.

    Relax, watch them do what they do and then call them geniuses when they make it to January, the best ever if they win it all or want to clean house once they lose/miss the playoffs.

    Rinse, repeat, be obnoxious.

  31. jbcommonsense says: Jan 28, 2012 12:44 PM

    Rooney has a point about the importance of defense. The two conference championships involved three great defenses, that were peaking.

    Three of them also have great running games. A great running game allows a team to 1. control the clock and 2. exhaust the opposing defense, in a way that high-voltage passing games just do not. In an ideal world you try to have both. The super bowl is a collision of these two different styles, and it should be interesting.

  32. johntonioholmes says: Jan 28, 2012 12:46 PM

    myspaceyourface

    Actually, Pittsburgh was typically better in the no-huddle.

    Guess who was calling plays in the no-huddle?

  33. latopia says: Jan 28, 2012 12:48 PM

    Rooney to Roethlisberger: We ranked 28th in turnover differential, gave up 28 turnovers and 24 of them were on YOU. Where are YOU going and what are YOU doing for the offense Ben?

  34. riverhorsey says: Jan 28, 2012 1:04 PM

    I doubt Tomlin appreciates Ben going over his head to discuss the offense with Rooney.

  35. emmac13 says: Jan 28, 2012 1:17 PM

    Ben is a great QB and brillant on the field. Off the field he is as dumb as they come.

  36. myspaceyourface says: Jan 28, 2012 2:32 PM

    @johntonioholmes – I honestly think Ben gave half effort until he got to run the hurry up offense.

    It moving the ball is great, but we struggled getting 7 points inside the 20.

  37. gimmeabruschi says: Jan 28, 2012 2:44 PM

    It is surprising that a guy who was suspended and brought a PR nightmare to his team not so long ago would be capable of a “power play” on the owner. I suspect Rooney’s reply might be, “shut up and leave my office Ben”.

  38. quittsburghstoolers says: Jan 28, 2012 2:54 PM

    sportsinhd says:Jan 28, 2012 10:52 AM

    I’m a little worried that Art Rooney thinks he should be coaching the team. With a boatload of injuries last season the Steelers went 12-4.

    ———————————————————-

    They went 12-4 thanks mainly to an easy schedule.

    And their ultimate reward? Drafting lower in each round so the better players they need to fix the problems they have will be harder to get.

    Going 12-4 is nice but unless a team is Pittsburgh’s situation wins the title, it possibly only helps delay the fixing of those problem areas.

    And of course we haters love the sound of that a real lot…

  39. prmpft says: Jan 28, 2012 3:24 PM

    brokea$$lovesmesomeme said it all – GREAT RESPONSE!

  40. Sam Von Schamm says: Jan 28, 2012 6:47 PM

    “So if the Steelers continue to stretch the field, it could force them to stretch their wallet and/or salary cap in order to keep the pieces in place. Competent running backs, generally speaking, are much cheaper…”

    I got a lot of thumbs down from my fellow Steeler fans and others for saying two weeks ago that the Rooneys are cheap and that it’s a serious problem.

    PFT says the same thing…silence from the Burgh.

  41. nickster31 says: Jan 28, 2012 7:46 PM

    The reason there has not been a hire, is because the Rooney family CAN NOT hire anyone until a minority is interviewed. It is called the Rooney Rule.

    YES, I know that rule is for HEAD Coaches, but since the man making the decision has the same name as the rule that is in place for HC’s, if he does not interview a minority, the media, PFT included, will have a field day with him.

    That being said, Fichtner is in Hawaii with Ben, so obviously Rooney has not had a chance to sit down with him, and have any type of discussion about this.

    As for the “So if the Steelers continue to stretch the field, it could force them to stretch their wallet and/or salary cap in order to keep the pieces in place. Competent running backs, generally speaking, are much cheaper…” The Steelers are FAR from cheap, and in case no one noticed, are about $25 million OVER the cap for next year. Hard to call a team that is that far over the cap cheap, don’t you think?

  42. Sam Von Schamm says: Jan 28, 2012 11:08 PM

    “Hard to call a team that is that far over the cap cheap, don’t you think?”

    It’s easy to call them cheap when you consider that they’ve spent less than allowed under the cap more often than not in the last dozen years.

    That joke of a stadium – the group of massive high school bleachers known as Heinz Field – is even better proof that they’re cheap.

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