All in Arians' hands

Ben Roethlisberger is back with the Steelers, who forged a successful run game in his absence. Mark Kaboly ponders how offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will handle it.

Bruce Arians – the man we love to hate.

Bruce Arians – the man who doesn't believe in the fullback and loves to throw out of an empty backfield when its 3rd-and-2.

Bruce Arians – the man who was told to run the ball more … or at least better.

Bruce Arians – the man who, sort of but not really, lost his job a year ago.

Bruce Arians – the most important man for the Steelers moving forward the rest of the season.

With the return of Ben Roethlisberger to an offense that has found a way to get it done while putting up some really putrid offensive numbers, what Arians decides to do with the offense is going to be paramount when it comes to whether this team is a Super Bowl contender or not.

It's only a quarter of the way into the season and, barring injuries to key players, the defense isn't going anywhere, so to speak. They are going to be there from now until the end playing ball like they did a couple years ago. You can bank on that.

The special teams were a problem last year, but that seems to have been righted by Al Everest and Co.

The offensive line also seems to have been put together in a productive manner by Sean Kugler.

The only thing that can get these Steelers off track is Bruce Arians.

Now, that's not a shot at Arians. It's just a fact.

You might think it's a godsend to have Roethlisberger back and, to a degree, that's true. He makes the team better in every aspect that Arians wants to accomplish with the offense.

Roethlisberger makes the run game better, the pass game better (obviously), the third-down conversions easier to attack and the options are almost endless when it comes to the red zone. Saying all of that, Arians has a tremendously difficult situation in front of him with the return of Roethlisberger as his play toy.

How do you incorporate and use your franchise quarterback to the fullest without getting away from what got you to 3-1?

The simple answer is that you don't.

There's no way to continue what you did to get to 3-1 and use the guy capable of 4,000-yard seasons and 30-tochdown seasons to his fullest potential.

Let's face it, whatever Arians does is not going to be right in the eyes of the masses and that's OK.

If he continues to call run at the pace he is now then he is wasting his $100 million quarterback and what he brings to the table.

If he reverts back to last year when he called 16 percent more pass plays than run plays that resulted in crazy offensive numbers but only a 9-7 record, then he's thumbing his nose at what was successful the first month of the season.

It's definitely not a winnable situation for Arians.

Sure, the Steelers need to open it up more and throw the ball and I'm sure they will. No more of this run on first and second down and throw on 3rd-and-long. No more of this "punting the ball is not necessarily a bad thing" stuff.

For the most part, that's the way the offense has worked through the first month of the season, but that's also not going to provide the best chance of winning a Super Bowl.

Arians has always talked about having a balanced offensive football team and he's going to have the best opportunity to show that's what his philosophy really is all about.

For that to happen, Arians must control his absolute fascination of throwing the ball if this offense, if this team, is going to be successful.

There is no better time to employ the theory of throwing to get a lead in the first half and running to close out the game in the second half than right now. There's no better time than now to have a team like Cleveland on your schedule. The Browns can't stop either the run or the pass. It should be a nice practice session for Arians next week.

But do you really believe that will how it shakes out?

Not me. Arians is a pass-first guy and he's proven that over his career. In six seasons as an NFL offensive coordinator -- three with Cleveland and three with the Steelers -- Arians has called more running plays than passing plays just once. That's a telling stat right there.

But again, the owner never told him before that he needs to run the ball better, either.

Bruce Arians – the man who holds the fate of the Steelers in his hands … literally.


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