Tag:Ben Roethlisberger
Posted on: January 23, 2012 2:04 pm
Edited on: January 23, 2012 3:38 pm
 

Cam Newton and other Pro Bowl roster additions

NewtonBy Josh Katzowitz

Now that the Patriots and Giants officially are heading to Indianapolis for Super Bowl XLVI, that means nobody from New England and New York will be flying to Honolulu this week for the Pro Bowl.

Which means we get tons of additions and deletions to the roster!

Here’s the list so far.

-Panthers standout rookie quarterback Cam Newton will replace Eli Manning on the NFC roster. As you well know, Newton threw for 4,051 yards passing, the most ever by a rookie quarterback in NFL history while recording 21 touchdowns and posting an 84.5 quarterback rating. Newton also rushed for 14 scores, the most ever by an NFL quarterback.

-Bears defensive end Julius Peppers will take over for New York’s Jason Pierre-Paul. This is Peppers’ seventh Pro Bowl appearance, and it’s the first time since Richard Dent in the mid-1980s that a Chicago defensive end has made the roster in back-to-back seasons.

-Jets guard Brandon Moore will replace New England’s Brian Waters on the AFC roster. This is Moore’s first Pro Bowl selection. Ravens guard Ben Grubbs will take over for Logan Mankins.

-Bad news for Tim Tebow. According to Pro Football Talk, Ben Roethlisberger “definitely” is attending the Pro Bowl festivities, meaning Tebow, the second alternate, will be staying home this week (and maybe going on tour with Brad Paisley instead).

-As the Cincinnati Enquirer reports, Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton replaces Tom Brady, tight end Jermaine Gresham replaces Rob Gronkowski and defensive tackle Geno Atkins replaces Vince Wilfork.

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Posted on: January 21, 2012 7:29 pm
 

Report: Bruce Arians was set to be fired

Bruce Arians would not have been retained (Getty).

By Josh Katzowitz

Before Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians retired, coach Mike Tomlin told reporters in a postseason presser that he wanted both of his coordinators to return in 2012. Arians, in fact, told people he would be back next season. That obviously won’t happen now that Arians isn’t returning.

But the Pittsburgh Post Gazette has some interesting insight into what forced Arians to make that call. According to the paper, the organization was not going to renew Arians’ contract, and in essence, was going to fire him without officially having to fire him.

“That decision,” writes reporter Gerry Dulac, “appears to have come from team president Art Rooney II, even though coach Mike Tomlin told Arians several times since the playoff loss in Denver that he wanted him to return next season.”

Now, it appears Tomlin was overruled by his boss.

The only statement released by the Steelers on the matter was this one paragraph from Tomlin:

“Bruce Arians has informed me that he will retire from coaching. I appreciate his efforts over the past five years as the team’s offensive coordinator and for helping lead our offense to new heights during his time with the Steelers. I am grateful to Bruce for contributing to our success and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.”

That’s it. No quotes from Arians. No quotes from Rooney.

On the face of it, that statement leans more toward dismissal than a happy retirement. And considering that Arians wasn’t popular with the fanbase, though he put together a more-than-solid offense this season and though Ben Roethlisberger has helped save his job in the past, the Post Gazette opines, “Apparently, the Steelers hierarchy agreed with many of his detractors.”

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Posted on: January 20, 2012 11:19 am
Edited on: January 20, 2012 12:28 pm
 

Steelers OC Bruce Arians retires

AriansBy Josh Katzowitz

We told you a couple days ago that although Steelers coach Mike Tomlin originally said he expected offensive coordinator Bruce Arians to return for the 2012 season, Arianw was thinking about retiring.

The decision has been made, and Arians has told Tomlin that he, in fact, will retire.

“Bruce Arians has informed me that he will retire from coaching,” Tomlin said in a statement released by the team. “I appreciate his efforts over the past five years as the team’s offensive coordinator and for helping lead our offense to new heights during his time with the Steelers. I am grateful to Bruce for contributing to our success and wish him nothing but the best in his retirement.”

Though he wasn't well-liked among part of the Steelers fan base -- truly, though, that's not unusual for any NFL offensive coordinator -- Arians had success in Pittsburgh, helping transform the run-heavy organization into more of a passing squad.

The unit has rarely been inside the top-10 in NFL offenses since Arian took over in 2007 (the Steelers continue to be an annual playoff team because their defense is always one of the best around), but quarterback Ben Roethlisberger trusted in Arians.

"If he were, I don't want to say 'allowed,' but his preference would be to throw the ball more, use the weapons we have and throw it," Roethlisberger said last April. "Mine's the same way.

"But we both think the same in the no-huddle, that we call a lot more runs because we know that's what we're supposed to do. And I don't know if that's 'supposed to' from the fans, the media, the owner, who knows? But it's just a feeling that you have that we better run the ball some. So we do think alike in a lot of those ways."

But Pittsburgh Post Gazette columnist Bob Smizik wrote last week that a change needed to be made. Somebody who was less buddy-buddy with Roethlisberger or more like somebody who could get the most out of him.

"They need a coach with a different mentality -- not necessarily in philosophy, but in style -- than Arians," Smizik wrote. "They need someone to come in, take over and show Roethlisberger there’s a different way, a better way to play quarterback."

So, what happens now? Obviously, there's a high-profile NFL offensive coordinator job open that will likely entice much interest around the league. While there was speculation that running backs Kirby Wilson -- who's still in critical condition after being badly burned in a house fire -- was the next in line to take over that job, Rapid Reporter Chuck Finder writes that the team most likely will look outside the organization for a replacement.

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Posted on: January 18, 2012 9:32 pm
Edited on: January 18, 2012 9:38 pm
 

Report: Arians might not return to PIT in '12

Bruce Arians might not return to Pittsburgh next season (US Presswire).By Josh Katzowitz

Bruce Arians has a healthy core of Steelers fans who want to see the Pittsburgh offensive coordinator leave their fair city behind. This bit of news, then, might take away part of the sting endured when the Broncos upset the Steelers in the playoffs.

The Pittsburgh Post Gazette writes that Arians might not return for the 2012 season. It’s unclear whether Arians would be forced out of his position since his contract is expiring or if he simply would voluntarily retire.

The latter might be more likely. Arians was thinking about retiring after last season, in part because of health issues. Coach Mike Tomlin said last week that Arians and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau would return next season, so it doesn't sound like Tomlin was displeased with him.

Arians has been Tomlin’s offensive coordinator the past four seasons, and for the last three years, the team hasn’t ranked lower than the 14th-best offense in the league (including a No. 7 ranking in 2009). Under Arian’s leadership, the Steelers have transformed from a run-first squad into a team that tries to take advantage of Ben Roethlisberger’s abilities in the pass game.

"If he were, I don't want to say 'allowed,' but his preference would be to throw the ball more, use the weapons we have and throw it," Roethlisberger said last April. "Mine's the same way.

"But we both think the same in the no-huddle, that we call a lot more runs because we know that's what we're supposed to do. And I don't know if that's 'supposed to' from the fans, the media, the owner, who knows? But it's just a feeling that you have that we better run the ball some. So we do think alike in a lot of those ways."

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Posted on: January 9, 2012 2:00 pm
Edited on: January 9, 2012 5:02 pm
 

Tim Tebow unlocks $250K playoff bonus in contract

Playoff wins for Tebow = Straight Cash Homie. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Tim Tebow did a lot of things Sunday that no one expected (like throw for exactly 316 passing yards). One such thing: unlocking a $250,000 bonus in his contract for winning a playoff game.

A clause in Tebow's contract paying him that money was activated on Sunday night according to Adam Schefter of ESPN, when Tebow won a playoff game. For every playoff game that Tebow wins, provided he's taken 70 percent of his team's snaps in a season, he gets an additional $250,000.

Tebowmania

We already knew that Tebow unlocked a $472,000 bonus for playing in more than 45 percent of his team's snaps back in December.

Closing out the season as the starter, Tebow passed the 70-percent threshold and now is owed an additional $250 GRR.

If the Broncos somehow manage to topple New England, Tebow will be in line for an additional bonus. (And the same is true up through the Super Bowl, giving Tebow the potential to earn an extra ... one million dollars.)

And you know what's almost as funny as Austin Powers jokes? Thinking back to before the season and imagining a world where Tebow not only played in 73 percent of the Broncos plays in 2011, but discussing the possibility of him making an extra quarter-million as a result of beating the Steelers in the playoffs.

Yet, somehow, here we are.

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Posted on: January 8, 2012 6:35 pm
Edited on: January 8, 2012 6:38 pm
 

Hobbled Ben, hot Tebow have Steelers in trouble

Tebow's insane second quarter has the Denver up big. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Improbably, Denver led Pittsburgh 20-6 at halftime of the wild-card game on CBS. And it's not because the Broncos went to backup quarterback Brady Quinn, either. It's because Tim Tebow went bananas in the second quarter, tossing 185 passing yards against the Steelers to give Denver the lead.

If you saw this coming, you're lying. Or Tim Tebow maybe.

Somehow, Tebow's arm and mind and confidence shook off the final three weeks of the regular season and he became a legitimate passing quarterback, throwing some gorgeous passes to an array of wide receivers (two to Demaryius Thomas, one to Daniel Fells and a beautiful 30-yard strike to Eddie Royal for a touchdown).

And in Denver, because this is Opposite Day, Ben Roethlisberger is completely ineffective. His ankle injury is a major, major problem because he a) can't step into throws and b) move around to extend plays. At all.

He threw a pick that handed the Broncos three points where Heath Miller missed the ball but a safety spy with Quinton Carter resulted in an easy turnover for the Broncos.

If the Steelers want to hang in there with Denver (and no, I can't believe I'm writing that either), they need to stop leaving Broncos wide receivers open, stop dropping passes, stop giving the Broncos free yards with stupid penalties and give Roethlisberger more time in the pocket to find his receivers.

Either that or hope that someone tells Tebow to "take it down a notch" again.

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Posted on: January 7, 2012 4:16 pm
 

For the gambler in you, wild card edition

By Josh Katzowitz

Each week, we’ll take the best -- and most clever -- odds collected by Bovada for the upcoming week and give our take. This is important stuff, perhaps the most important post you’ll read all week. Because if you can’t lose money while watching a game in which you have absolutely no effect, what’s the point of watching sports at all?

Who will be the next head coach of the Buccaneers?    

Mike Sherman 8/5

Brian Billick 2/1

Rob Chudzinski 3/1

Mike Mularkey 3/1

Bill Cowher 10/1

I guess the big question is whether the hiring of Sherman would excite the Buccaneers fanbase? Considering his Texas A&M teams were so mediocre, does that wipe away the successes he had with the Packers when Brett Favre was in his prime? I mean, wouldn’t anybody else on the above list be more exciting than Sherman? Not that fan excitement is the biggest factor on hiring a coach, but I’m not sure I see Sherman as the guy. That said, I think I’d go with Mularkey, though it is more of a longshot.

Who will be the next head coach of the Rams?   

Jeff Fisher 1/1

Field 5/7

Go with Fisher. That Rams job could be a good one for him.

How many Wild Card teams will win this weekend?        

0 10/1

1 9/5

2 7/4

3 4/1

4 30/1

The Steelers will beat the Broncos. The Bengals will beat the Texans. The Falcons will beat the Giants. The Lions will lose to the Saints. So, I’d go with 3 and make some money.

Will a wild card team win the Super Bowl?       

Yes 6/1

No 1/10

Does anybody see the Falcons, Lions or Bengals winning the Super Bowl? Of course not. But the Steelers are a different story. If Ben Roethlisberger is healthy enough and Isaac Redman plays well enough at running back and that defense doesn’t get old overnight, Pittsburgh could make a run. And if you think so, give “yes” a shot. Otherwise, at 1/10, this isn’t worth a bet.

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Posted on: January 6, 2012 9:32 am
 

Film Room: Broncos vs. Steelers wild-card preview

Posted by Eye on Football Analyst Andy Benoit


It hardly seems fair that a 12-win team has to go on the road to face an eight-win team, but the NFL’s playoff seeding system is designed to reward division champions. That includes the rare division champion that enters the postseason on a three-game losing streak.

Here’s a breakdown of what many expect to be a massacre.


1. Broncos offense has no prayer
We covered everything there is to know about the Broncos’ offense last week in preparation for their Week 17 bout with the Chiefs. Nothing has changed. It’s clear that press-man coverage can overwhelm Denver’s passing attack, as the receivers don’t have the quickness to separate and Tim Tebow doesn’t have the mechanics, timing or confidence to fit balls into tight windows.

It’s rare to see the zone-based Steelers play press-man coverage, though they did so with great success against the Patriots in Week 8. Usually, shutdown corner Ike Taylor (yes, SHUTDOWN corner) plays press coverage against the opposing team’s top wideout (in this case, Demaryius Thomas), while William Gay, Keenan Lewis and/or Bryant McFadden play a variation of zone on the other side.

If Dick LeBeau wants to bait Tebow into interceptions, the Steelers may still stick with their traditional approach:

This shot from Super Bowl XLV illustrates the Steelers’ traditional approach to coverage: Ike Taylor playing press-man against the opposing team’s top receiver (Greg Jennings) on one side, with the rest of the secondary playing zone on the other (you can tell it’s zone by how cornerback Bryant McFadden is lined up off the line and with his body open slightly towards the inside).

The Broncos don’t have a threatening tight end, so Tebow would be throwing into heavy zones against athletic corners. If LeBeau wants to pressure Tebow with James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley and bait him into the usual slew of incompletions, he can play man-to-man. Whatever LeBeau chooses will work; we’re talking about the league’s top-ranked pass defense against the league’s most inept passing quarterback.

Lately, Denver’s read-option run game has still produced yardage, though only because of the high volume of carries. If the Broncos couldn’t muster more than three points by running against Kansas City’s 3-4, they can’t be expected to muster ANY points running against Pittsburgh’s.

A key to Denver’s run game is getting offensive linemen clean to inside linebackers. No three-man defensive line does a better job at protecting its inside linebackers than Pittsburgh’s. That’s why Lawrence Timmons and James Farrior are able to play with their ears pinned back.

2. A roll of the dice
Because it feels a little too simplistic to declare the Broncos’ chances at moving the ball to be zero (even if they are), we’ll use this section to present creative ideas for how the Broncos might – MIGHT – manage to muster a semblance of offense on Sunday.

The first idea is to just throw deep and hope luck tilts your way (a cornerback falls down, a ref calls pass interference, two Steelers collide while going after the same easy interception, etc.). Don’t count on Denver doing this, though. It goes against everything John Fox has stood for since turning to Tebow, and it also requires that, you know, Tebow actually throw downfield accurately.

Another idea is to draw up trick plays. Lots of trick plays. Problem is, a defense as experienced and disciplined as Pittsburgh’s is not going to bite. You might make chance-taker Troy Polamalu pay for a gamble once or twice, but more likely he’ll make YOU pay even more for YOUR gamble.

A third (and stronger) idea is to run the ball outside. In the past, outside running was guaranteed to fail against the Steelers. This season, however, Timmons and Farrior have not been as sharp in lateral run defense. That’s why Pittsburgh has struggled a bit against zone teams. The Broncos no longer have a zone run game (it left shortly after Shanahan departed), but it might not be crazy to hastily install one given that their usual approach will not work anyway.

Denver’s lack of running back speed is an issue here, but again: their usual approach will not work anyway!

3. Pittsburgh’s passing attack
As lopsided as this matchup seems, the final score could be tight given that Pittsburgh’s offense might have trouble against John Fox’s and Dennis Allen’s defense. Don’t be surprised if the Steelers come out throwing in an effort to build a quick lead that forces the Broncos to go to the air early.
 
Against the Browns last week, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians chose to spread the field with 3 x 2 empty backfield sets on passing downs. This may have been to get the ball out quickly so that Ben Roethlisberger would not have to make plays on his bum ankle. Though Roethlisberger has gotten much better in his presnap reads and sudden decision making, his natural inclination is still to extend the play. Thus, Big Ben still held the ball plenty long last week.

He won’t be able to do that this week, though – not under the same gameplan, anyway. Offensive tackles Max Starks and Marcus Gilbert may have been be able to handle Browns defensive ends Jayme Mitchell and Jabaal Sheard on an island (Sheard just barely, actually), but they won’t have a snowball’s chance against Elvis Dumervil and Von Miller.

If Roethlisberger is to buy time for his receivers downfield, his offensive tackles will need running backs and tight ends to chip-block, if not stay in completely and double-team. Something else to keep in mind: Miller, D.J. Williams and Brian Dawkins all excel as inside blitzers. Blitz pickup is an area in which the Steelers interior line, particularly left guard Chris Kemoeatu, struggles.

Brown's emerged as one of Pittsburgh's best receiving options. (Getty Images)

4. The passing matchups
Even though protection could be a problem, it’s possible the Steelers will still spread the field and let Roethlisberger run around and make plays. We’ve seen them before give up piles of sacks this way but make up for it with big plays.

The Broncos have a good secondary now that undrafted rookie Chris Harris has blossomed at nickel corner, but they’re thin and inexperienced at safety and vulnerable with Jonathan Wilhite at dime corner.

If the Broncos decide to eliminate Antonio Brown (Pittsburgh’s new No. 1 receiver) with Champ Bailey, there will be big-play opportunities for Mike Wallace against the limited-ranged safeties. If Bailey defends Wallace, Andre Goodman can spar with Brown but probably not for as long as Roethlisberger can extend the play. Chris Harris will be tested by Emmanuel Sanders’ speed, and Wilhite will have fits trying to defend Jerricho Cotchery underneath.

As much as the Broncos might like their secondary, they can’t expect it to be the league’s first unit that sustains coverage against the Steelers’ prolonged improvisational plays. Thus, when the Broncos do blitz, don’t be surprised if they bring the kitchen sink to ensure that Roethlisberger goes down or throws hot.

5. Steelers run game
Rashard Mendenhall will be missed, but the Steelers can tread water with Isaac Redman. The third-year running back doesn’t have Mendenhall’s corner-turning speed and acceleration, but in confined areas he shows looser hips than you’d guess. Where Pittsburgh’s backfield woes will really show up is in the pass game. Mewelde Moore’s absence (foot injury) leaves them without a prominent openfield dumpoff receiver.

But this is a relatively minor issue. The primary job of the Steelers’ backfield is to pound the rock when called upon, which Redman and straight-line back John Clay are capable of doing. Also, Pittsburgh’s offensive line, especially with the superb pull-blocking skills of Kemoeatu, is capable of moving the pile down the stretch.

So who will win? Check our NFL expert picks for all the wild-card games

Follow @Andy_Benoit on Twitter or contact him at Andy.Benoit-at-NFLTouchdown.com.
 
 
 
 
The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com