Give Arians some credit

You hate him. You curse him. But Bruce Arians is putting the ball in his best player's hands and letting him go.

Bruce Arians has had his share of detractors. It comes with the job of being an offensive coordinator, particularly one for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But you have to give Arians some credit for what he's been doing with the Steelers offense this year.

Think about it. When is the last time you saw as many Pittsburgh receivers running all by themselves as there were in Sunday's 27-14 win over Cleveland?

Certainly the Browns had something to do with that. Let's face it, they're not very good.

But when the Steelers roll up 543 yards as they did Sunday, you have to tip your hat to the guy calling the plays.

Some may do so only grudgingly. Others, not at all. They wouldn't say Arians called a good game if the Steelers won a game 50-0.

I won't be among them. Arians' offensive game plans may be different than we've seen here in Pittsburgh - ever. But it's working and the Steelers are averaging more than 400 yards of offense per game.

The Steelers are spreading teams out and throwing the ball all over the lot. They're allowing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger - their best offensive player - to do what he does best, throw the ball and run the no-huddle. And they're winning.

The turnovers are a problem. The Steelers had four more Sunday and now have 12 in six games.

But Arians certainly can't be blamed for Roethlisberger mishandling a snap or forcing a pass any more than he could be for the fumbles lost by Willie Parker or Rashard Mendenhall Sunday.

© As left guard Chris Kemoeatu limped off the field early in the first quarter and left tackle Max Starks followed him to the sidelines on the third series, I couldn't help but think about how well the team's offensive line has been playing.

Both players returned for the next series after their injuries, but the fact can't be overlooked that Roethlisberger has had plenty of time to throw the ball this season.

Yes, he's been sacked 16 times already, but when you've thrown 207 passes, that's really not too bad. In fact, considering Roethlisberger was sacked 46 times in 469 attempts last season, it's a pretty big improvement.

© The Steelers really dodged a bullet with both Starks and Kemoeatu Sunday.

Could you imagine rookie Ramon Foster or second-year guard Doug Legursky lining up opposite that Minnesota Vikings defensive line?

How about Trai Essex at left tackle against Jared Allen?

© Travis Kirschke and Nick Eason did a solid job replacing Aaron Smith at defensive end and helped hold Jamal Lewis to 21 yards on 11 carries. Ziggy Hood was worked into the mix a little bit as well, though not as much as many would have thought.

The only time the Brown really hurt the Steelers running the ball was out of their version of the wildcat, with Josh Cribbs running the ball.

But as the game wore on, even that started getting gobbled up.

© Linebacker Lawrence Timmons said Sunday he's back to 100 percent from the ankle injury he suffered in the preseason finale.

It's starting to show, particularly in his run defense. Timmons still struggles in traffic, but he's as quick at shooting the gap as anyone I've seen.

© The Steelers tried to run their isolation slant to Santonio Holmes in the third quarter and cornerback Eric Wright jumped the play, then pointed back to safety Brodney Poole, likely giving him a thumbs up for calling out the play.

The next thing for the Steelers to do out of that formation is to run the slant and go. One Roethlisberger pump fake and Holmes will likely walk into the end zone untouched on that one.

© Even though his yardage totals weren't great and he lost a fumble – though his forward momentum was clearly stopped – Rashard Mendenhall continues to run with authority, falling forward on most occasions after contact.

It was interesting, however, that head coach Mike Tomlin went with Mewelde Moore in the closing moments to run out the clock.

Tomlin still doesn't fully trust Mendenhall not to fumble.

© Tomlin also doesn't fully trust kick returner Stefan Logan not to cough it up. Moore continues to be the team's punt return man inside their own 20.

Moore isn't going to break any long returns - or really get any return yardage at all - but he's also not likely to fumble.

© Hines Ward, Santonio Holmes and Heath Miller are all on pace to set career highs in receptions and receiving yards.

These aren't your father's Steelers.

Heck, they aren't even your older brother's Steelers.

© For the first time this season, the Steelers didn't allow a point in the fourth quarter. Yes, Cleveland's offense is that bad.

© Fans upset that the Steelers are not blowing some of these bad teams out - ie. covering the point spread – should look at it this way. At least they're winning those games.

It could be worse. Ask an Eagles fan.

Dale Lolley appears courtesy of the Observer-Reporter.


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