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Starkey: The joke's on the Steelers

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Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review
Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger on the sideline during the Chargers game Dec. 2012.
Wednesday, Dec. 26, 2012, 10:16 p.m.

This Steelers' offense is an abomination.

Worse, it's soft.

They cannot run the ball. They do not score enough (2.2 touchdowns per game if, unlike them, you're scoring at home). Their red-zone approach stinks, and maybe most critically, their quarterback still goes sandlot too often and is getting his brains beaten in.

Bottom line: Bruce Arians must go.

I mean, Arians called for 25 passes in the first half at Dallas! He didn't use a fullback on several short-yardage runs against the Chargers! His third-and-1 handoffs take an hour-and-a-half to unfold and only work when Isaac Redman performs a miracle.

The running game is laughable. Byron Leftwich, who couldn't steal a base off Rod Barajas, has the team's second-longest run of the season. Rashard Mendenhall doesn't even bother to show up anymore.

The Steelers have lost their two divisional home games even though the opposing offense DID NOT SCORE A TOUCHDOWN. That's hard to do.

Mike Wallace is now a possession receiver. Emmanuel Sanders can't take a hit. Antonio Brown has lost his mind.

This group needs a coordinator with a backbone.

Besides, Arians is too friendly with Big Ben. He's more like Ben's uncle than his boss. You can't have that. Players can't be friends with coaches. That's insane.

It's obvious, in watching Ben play, that Arians isn't tough enough on him. Did you see the ridiculous interception that lost the Bengals' game? Typical Ben, doing whatever he wants out there and taking silly chances.

The Steelers need a guy who'll get in Ben's face, for Ben's own good. The man turns 31 in March. He won't make 34 if this kind of punishment keeps up.

What's more, Ben has misplaced his clutch gene. Behold his recent history in big games:

• He was terrible in the 2010 AFC Championship.

• He air-balled the last shot of Super Bowl XLIII.

• He double-dribbled on the last regulation possession of the Denver playoff game.

• He had multiple chances to finish off the Cowboys two weeks ago and the Bengals four days ago and came up empty every time.

The magic is gone.

So here's my suggestion for Steelers president Art Rooney II: Let it be known to Mike Tomlin that you'd like to see Arians jettisoned. Leave the decision up to Tomlin, of course, knowing that any intelligent employee will take a hint from his boss (I sure hope Art and Mike aren't friends, by the way, because we've seen how poorly that has worked out with Bruce and Ben).

That'll be it for Arians, but the Steelers should let him down softly. Maybe disguise the firing as a “retirement.” It's not likely Arians would find work right away and make the Steelers look bad. Everybody knows Ben made him.

Secretly, I'm sure Arians still wants to be a head coach. Can you imagine that? With his luck, he'd probably wind up in charge of a no-hope, 2-14 team.

Once Arians is gone, Rooney II should tell reporters that Ben needs to “tweak” his game, even if Robert Kraft would never say anything like that about Tom Brady. The Steelers need to rock Ben's world. He's too comfortable.

Look, it's past time the offense carried this franchise for a bit, but that's hard to do when you can't score. This sickly unit has reached 30 points once all season. The Seahawks score that many in a quarter.

If the Steelers don't hit 30 against Cleveland on Sunday, it'll be the first time in 20 years that they failed to reach the number at least twice in a season.

The bigger picture, though, is the quarterback. Ben must be tamed. He must be spared more bodily harm. My God, the man nearly speared himself to death with his own rib. Somebody needs to put him in his place — the pocket — and maybe even blow up at him once in a while.

I don't know who the new guy should be, but I've got a solid tip for Rooney II and Tomlin.

I hear Todd Haley's available.

Joe Starkey co-hosts a show 2 to 6 p.m. weekdays on 93.7 “The Fan.” His columns appear Thursdays and Sundays. He can be reached at

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