Oh my God, did I just type, Fire Dick LeBeau? Sounds silly as it looks, doesn\’t it?
The Bruce Arians haters were in full force after last nights loss to Baltimore. Now I am no Bruce Arians apologist by any stretch of the imagination, but he and number 3 quarterback Dennis Dixon delivered the game on a silver platter to the defense with 6:32 left in the game. Going into the game if you were told you could fast forward to the 4th quarter and have a 17-14 lead with just 6:32 left, every last member of Steeler Nation would have taken it.
What the casual Steeler fan does not understand is that Dixon was the number 3 quarterback. He mostly runs the scout team against the defense during the week and if he gets lucky, he might get a snap or two with the starters. Although Dixon saw his reps increase this week with Charlie Batch sidelined, he did not get the lions share until Friday. The entire team and coaching staff thought Ben Roethlisberger would be starting this week.
There is only so much you can do as an offensive coordinator with a number 3 quarterback that has had limited preparation. Could Arians have rolled him out more? Possible, but there were not many of those type plays in the playbook and the Ravens were doing a great job of forcing him to stay in the pocket as well. They wanted him in the pocket as he is dangerous with his legs.
On the night Arians called 38 running plays and 26 pass plays, not bad balance at all as every Steelers fans wanted to see the ball in the hands of Rashard Mendenhall more. What Steeler Nation also is not admitting, is on the plays Dixon was given to open it up a bit, he did not connect on. The deep pass to Mike Wallace for starters is one Dixon threw right in the bucket. Had that been Limas Sweed on the other end, Steeler Nation would be all over that today as well. In addition to the Wallace incompletion, there were throws each to Hines Ward, Heath Miller and Santonio Holmes that sailed on Dixon were the receivers were easily open. That is 4 of the 14 incompletions right there. Perfectly called plays as well.
In overtime, the game plan was to continue to run on a wore down Ravens defense. Of the 9 plays in overtime 6 were runs, but 1 was a quarterback sneak on 3rd and short. So if we threw that play out out, there were 5 runs and 3 passes. The game plan all night was to keep Dixon away from what happened on the interception. The Ravens brought a zone blitz with linebacker Ray Lewis and corner Domonique Foxworth rushing from the right side. Foxworth pressured from the edge and his pressure forced Dixon to release the ball quickly. The blitz also forced Holmes to make a read as well. Dixon and Holmes were on the same page, but linebacker Paul Kruger read Dixon staring him down and thus broke on the pass. Those things happen with a young quarterback.
I surely understand the anger of losing, but the fingers need to be pointed at the defense and not Dixon or Arians. Sure, Arians has his moments at times, but had the Steelers won, the Arians haters would of said that Dixon won the game despite Arians play calling. The truth is they had the game won only to have the defensive backs snatch it from the jaws of victory. And no, I do not think we should fire Dick LeBeau because of this.