Mularkey Promoted to Offensive Coordinator (Jan 5, �01)
Stillers TE coach Mike Mularkey has been promoted to offensive coordinator.
This decision came down to either him or WR Coach Bratkowski. Apparently, Mularkey was the lesser of two evils.
To me, Bratkowski had a chance to show himself -- in two seasons -- no less, by developing our 1999 #1 draft pick Troy Edwards and then this year�s #1 Plex Burress. Instead, Edwards actually regressed under Bratkowski�s astute tutelage, and Burress was quickly forgotten in the woeful Steeler passing offense, and never developed or progressed at all. Actually, when Gilbride was fired, it might have been prudent to send Bratkowski packing, too.
Now that Mularkey has been hired, the long pole in the tent is whether he will merely be Cowher�s puppet, or if he will be allowed to scrap a good bit of the WhaleDung Offense -- the slowest offense in the NFL -- and incorporate some much needed oomph & diversity. The preponderance of evidence says that Mularkey will be Cowher�s puppet and simply dust off the same old playbook we�ve been using the past three seasons, minus the ultra-complicated quirks that Gilbride unsuccessfully tried to implement here. If this occurs, then this coaching change is no different than changing mechanics but keeping the same, tired old Ford Escort engine, in hopes of someday winning at Daytona.
If Bettis is re-signed, we�ll once again trot out the slowest group of skill players in the league. TE Mark Bruener & Bettis are both glacially slow, and Hines Ward, who most assuredly will start at one of the WR spots next year, is hardly a burner who keeps CBs awake in terror late at night. Thus, on first and second downs, in the "base offense" of the WhaleDung "I" Formation the Stillers love, you�ve got few options to spring a back or TE on a pass pattern, or run wide, because Bruener, Bettis and FB Kreider are too slow to exploit coverage downfield and Bettis is too slow to run wide. Sure, Bruener sometimes gets open on seam routes, because few teams even bother chucking the 18-catch-per-year wonderboy, but that�s not something you can bank on game in and game out.
Preseason will be interesting. The first time you see Doughboy Bettis, or Kreider, or Witman flanked out as a WR, you can then be assured that nothing has changed from the Ray Sherman/Kevin Gilbride days. And if the Stillers, who�ve finished 29th, 26th, and 29th in passing the past 3 years, are truly serious about improving their passing game, they would literally spend at least 80% of their plays in preseason conducting pass plays, not running line plunges.
The Still Mill