Rotoworld editor and PFT scribe Evan Silva loves him some Bruce Arians. "I'm an Arians believer," he told me during our podcast earlier this week. It's tough not to be (unless your last name is "Rooney").
Under Arians' guiding hand, Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger went from being a game-manager to a Top 5 caliber player. He went from going 9-21 with two picks in Super Bowl XL to going 21-30 and throwing the game-winning touchdown pass to Santonio Holmes in Super Bowl XLII. Pittsburgh's offense took flight under Arians, transforming from a dated, ground-and-pound rushing team to a high-flying aerial attack featuring multiple WR sets, bunch formations, and tight ends running wild up the seams.
The results were four playoff appearances in five years with two Super Bowl appearances during that stretch and one World Championship. Along the way, Roethlisberger racked up some impressive passing statistics, including a 4,000-plus yard season last year.
All that wasn't good enough for the Rooney Family in Pittsburgh, a family I respect and admire, but (despite what Steelers fans will lead you to believe) is actually somewhat meddlesome in the affairs of their team. Speculation and rumor tell us the Rooney's pushed Arians out against the wishes of Roethlisberger and head coach Mike Tomlin. If Jerry Jones had made that sort of move in Dallas, people would be all over him (myself included). The Rooneys do it, and people make excuses.
Arians wasn't unemployed long, finding a job in Indianapolis, a place he has always referred to to as one of the best franchises he's ever worked. Prior to the Pittsburgh gig, Arians was Peyton Manning QB coach from 1998-2001.
Now with the Colts, and with training camp in full swing, Arians is once again rebuilding an offense. So far, he likes what he is seeing.
Arians yesterday discussing tight ends Coby Fleener and Dwayne Allen:
Very pleased. [Allen's] strength is evident. It's very hard for a young tight end to come in and block at this level. He's shown an outstanding effort and ability to do it.
[Dwayne Allen] is probably as sudden with the ball in his hands as I've seen at the tight end position in a while.
Dwayne more suitable to put in the backfield than Coby. Between the two, we can cover all our bases and multiple in our sets without substitution.
With their ability, we can come up with different packages every week.
More than anything, he can catch the football, but I've been really pleased with his in-line blocking on inside run drills. He's been extremely good at the tight end position. That was a pleasant surprise.
It seems evident that Arians is both surprised and pleased by Fleener's ability to block. That was not his M.O. coming out of Stanford. Fleener, for all intents and purposes, is a tight end in name only. He's really a wide out playing TE. If he can display some blocking ability, that's a big plus for his game.
Arians on the running backs:
I like the running backs attitudes with the linebackers in the pass rush drill. Vick Ballard was a very pleasant surprise.
Arians on the offensive line:
It's still a work-in-progress. We're not decided on the five guys, so to speak. We've got some good competition there at a couple of spots. It'll iron itself out.
I've said this several times before, and I'll say it again: Of all the coaching moves made this offseason, hiring Arians was the smartest. Thank you, Rooney Family.