As the Pittsburgh Steelers prepare this weekend to play out the string of the 2012 NFL season with no playoffs to look forward to, I decided to go back through the entirety of the season to figure out, for me, what was the biggest mistake the Steelers made that ultimately impacted the outcome of the season. After a significant amount of reflection I really think I’ve figured it out.
Of all the problems and injuries this team has had this past season I point instead to an event back on January 20th, 2012 when the franchise, specifically head coach Mike Tomlin, chose to replace then offensive coordinator Bruce Arians and replace him with Todd Haley. The entire situation even back then was shady. It was first announced that Arians retired, but then it came to light that Arians was simply not offered another contract and that it was his desire to return to the Steelers. Instead, on the command of Tomlin, Haley was put in charge of the offense and the rest, as they say, is history.
Looking at how it all went down it was a serious calculated risk by Tomlin, and he had to know that after letting the offensive coordinator go who in his 5 seasons was part of a team that made the playoffs 4 of those 5 years and went to the Super Bowl twice, going 1-1 there was a chance things might not work out. From January 2012 on all Arians did was become the offensive coordinator and now the interim head coach of an Indianapolis Colts team that came into the season woefully undermanned, a rookie quarterback and new defensive system. And all he has done with them is lead them to the playoffs and helped quarterback Andrew Luck to one of the greatest rookie seasons of all time.
The relationship between Haley and the Steelers offense, in particular star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, has been rocky to say the least and just from a statistical standpoint, the entire offense is down. I understand that an argument like this is a “what if?” scenario, but looking at how the season went without Arians, and how the Colts season has gone with him, and arguably less talent around him it ‘s not hard to connect the dots and assume the Steelers offense would have been much more potent with Arians in control.
I don’t suppose we’ll ever really know why Tomlin felt like he needed to make a change, and I doubt he got what he had hoped for. Not sure if Haley will return next season, but if they decide to make a change, let’s hope they reach out to a coach who can better maximize the talent on this roster, because if there was anything that hurt this team from a personnel standpoint, I’d rank letting Arians go at the very top.