Hooray for Arians!

With latest win, Bruce Arians proved to all of his naysayers that he understands the modern game better than the old dinosaurs. He can throw and run!!

It ended shy of the playoffs, but at least it ended with a romp down memory lane by Fast Willie Parker.

That last drive against Miami wasn't one for the ages, but it was one for the road for Parker, a decorated Steelers running back who wants to start more than he wants to remain with the Steelers.

It was also a march that shed more light on what OC Bruce Arians really wants from his offense than it did Parker's ability to remain a feature back at this stage of his career.

"We needed to run it," Arians said of the drive that began at the Steelers' 2-yard line with 6:10 remaining and a three-point lead in need of protection. "We needed to take that time off the clock and go score.

"There are times in games when you have to run it. We had to run it right there and (Parker) did."

Arians isn't opposed to closing out games in such a fashion, or running in short-yardage situations, or from in close.

The better the Steelers can run it, the better they'll be able to throw it.

They were better in 2009 than they had been in 2008 in those instances, but they weren't as good as Arians wants them to be.

"Our short-yardage stuff was better than it was a year ago but still not up to par," he said. "Running inside the 10-yard line when you have to we need to get a little better at; we were better this year."

When they get a little better next year than they were this year they'll have a chance to be as productive and explosive as any offense in the league.

And the defense won't have to finish No. 1 overall for something significant to be achieved.

"I think we're on the cusp," Arians continued. "Consistency is still our key and that has to come in running the football. When we can run it we can do anything we want to do, the big chunks come in the passing game.

"Mike Wallace is going to get better. Santonio (Holmes) got so much better, Heath (Miller) got better. We're stills scratching the surface of how good we could be."

In one respect that's the same old story, the story of 2009.

But in another it's a developing story as the Steelers continue evolving into a team that, in the words of Ben Roethlisberger, is capable of keeping up with the likes of Indianapolis and New Orleans.

It's not that running has gone out of style or been rendered obsolete; it's that it takes so much more to win now.

Consider the top 10 rushing teams in the NFL.

Five of those, No. 2 Tennessee, No. 3 Carolina, No. 4 Miami, No. 8 Cleveland and No. 10 Jacksonville, didn't make the playoffs.

Only two of the top 10 passing offenses, No. 1 Houston and No. 9 Pittsburgh, failed to qualify.

Given that, given the evolution of the Steelers' offense and given the obvious transition needed on defense, they'd be foolish not to continue down the philosophical path they've adopted.

There are many aspects of the operation that need to be addressed in the wake of missing the playoffs, but the big-picture direction and the identity the Steelers are in the process of establishing for themselves aren't among them.

"We just have to complement our defense," Hines Ward said post-Miami. "For years our defense won a lot of games for us. When they're struggling we have to keep the ball. We can't risk having a three-and-out and stuff like that and putting our defense in a bad spot.

"I can't get into ‘should we be passing or running or whatever?' I just think we have to complement each other to be good."

That didn't happen often enough this season for the offense to bail out a banged-up and aging defense that is in need of re-tooling up front (depth) and in the secondary (even with a healthy Troy Polamalu).

That doesn't mean it can't next season.

Or that it won't.


Steel City Insider Top Stories