Tuesday, January 23, 2007

The First Decision is a Winner - UPDATE

Update -- January 23, 2007 (11:24AM PST)
ESPN is reporting that it's official -- Bruce Arians has been promoted to offensive coordinator.

Original Posting
Call me optimistic to a fault but I'm already impressed with Mike Tomlin.

The decision to retain Dick LeBeau is a sign that Mr. Tomlin's assertions that he believes in playing fundamental football rather than being beholden to any particular scheme are certainly to be believed. While Mr. LeBeau is more than capable of coaching in a 4-3 defensive scheme if Mr. Tomlin was inclined to go in that direction, it seems very unlikely that Mr. LeBeau would be retained to implement a system in which he does not believe. Indeed, during his press conference Monday Mr. Tomlin insisted that "I think part of good coaching is doing what your guys do and what they do well." That kind of approach is the sign of a mature, confident football mind.

The other aspect of Mr. LeBeau's retention that is to be celebrated is the increased likelihood that Darren Perry will also be retained. Anyone who has read Pittsburgh Steelers Fanatic with any regularity knows that Mr. Perry is a favorite here. His continued development under the tutelage of Mr. LeBeau -- someone about whom Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis said "[h]e taught me so much" -- helps ensure a smooth transition next offseason when Mr. Perry is elevated to defensive coordinator.

On the offensive side of the football, lacking any evidence to the contrary, the prediction here is that Mr. Tomlin will (like all football coaches) emphasize a strong running game. To that end the prediction here is that wide receiver coach Bruce Arians, who Ken Whisenhunt would love to bring to Phoenix, will be installed as the new Steelers offensive coordinator.

Of course Mr. Tomlin will have to replace running backs coach Dick Hoak who retired, wide receiver coach Bruce Arians who will be named offensive coordinator, special teams coach Kevin Spencer who left for Arizona, and offensive line coach Russ Grimm who is (no doubt) on his way out -- or is he? In an off-season in which the unexpected has come to pass perhaps there's one more surprise in store for all of us.

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