Quarterback Roethlisberger is looking for some answers from Steelers
HONOLULU — Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, miffed that Bruce Arians will not return as offensive coordinator, plans to meet with team president Art Rooney II about the matter after playing in the Pro Bowl on Sunday.
"When I get back, I'm going to go up to Mr. Rooney's office and ask him what he wants from me, what he wants from this offense, because I think that's a viable question for him," Roethlisberger told the Tribune-Review on Thursday following an AFC practice at Hickam Air Force Base. "He's our owner and our boss, so I really would like to know kind of what he wants and where he sees our offense going because I'd like to tell him where I see us going."
Arians, 59, had served as offensive coordinator since 2007 before announcing his retirement last Friday. However, he said earlier this week that the Steelers would not renew his contract.
Rooney told the Trib last week that he thought the offense needed to do a better job of scoring after finishing 21st in the NFL at 20.3 points per game this past season. The Steelers ranked 12th in total offense at 372.3 yards per game.
Rooney sidestepped answering whether he ordered Arians gone.
"The question of how we got here is not really relevant," Rooney told the team's website this week. "Bruce talked about retiring for a number of years now. We are looking to improve on offense and to have somebody in place for a number of years. We are looking forward to moving on."
Roethlisberger has made no secret of his allegiance and close ties to Arians.
He lobbied to keep Arians after the 2009 season, when the Steelers considered making a change at offensive coordinator. Roethlisberger had planned to make Arians one of his guests at the Pro Bowl, but Arians opted against it after the developments of the past week. Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, a candidate to replace Arians, has joined Roethlisberger in Hawaii.
"We feel like we are really close to being an elite offense," Roethlisberger said. "For your leader to be gone is kind of a shocker, but you've got to be ready for whatever the Rooneys and coach (Mike) Tomlin decide it our next step."
Roethlisberger said it will be an adjustment no matter who the Steelers hire as their next coordinator.
"Change is always different," Roethlisberger said. "It doesn't mean it's good or it's bad. You just don't know yet. I think the (Steelers') mind was made up, and B.A. was kind of ready to move on as well."
Said receiver Antonio Brown, who made the Pro Bowl as a kickoff returner, "I talked to (Roethlisberger) about it, but some things we can't change. All we can do is focus on what's upcoming, the new guy, ready for him to come in, learn his game plan and ride together so we can win football games."
Roethlisberger threw for more than 4,000 yards for just the second time in his eight-year career. He eclipsed that mark despite missing a game because of a high left ankle sprain sustained in early December.
Roethlisberger said he hasn't fully recovered from the injury that hampered him the rest of the season, including the playoff loss in Denver.
Roethlisberger, who is slated to start for the AFC in the Pro Bowl, said he hasn't had to wear a brace this week because practices are so light.
"They say it will be a couple of months until it's healed," he said, "but it's doing a lot better."
Rooney said in a wide-ranging interview last week that the Steelers need to cut down on sacks. Rooney added that he would like to see Roethlisberger, who frequently holds onto the ball to extend plays, to "tweak" his game.
"From what I understood from that was, just not get hit to so much," said Roethlisberger, who was sacked 40 times in 15 regular-season games in 2011. "I think some of that's on me; some of that's on linemen. It's on everybody, so I'll put it on me and try to make those adjustments."
In addition to Roethlisberger and Brown, receiver Mike Wallace, outside linebacker James Harrison and free safety Ryan Clark will represent the Steelers in the Pro Bowl.
Center Maurkice Pouncey and free safety Troy Polamalu were named Pro Bowl starters, but neither will play because of injuries.
When asked about the changes coming on offense, Wallace said, "We're going to deal with it when we get back. Right now we're on this vacation, baby."