The Quarterback Whisperer by Bruce Arians

The Quarterback Whisperer by Bruce Arians

Author:Bruce Arians
Language: eng
Format: epub
Tags: Sports & Recreation / Coaching / Football, Sports & Recreation / Football, Biography & Autobiography / Sports
Publisher: Hachette Books
Published: 2017-07-11T04:00:00+00:00

Ben led us to the Super Bowl in his second year in the league. But inside the locker room it was hardly all rosy for him.

During the season Ben often acted immature, as if all the stories that documented the greatness of “Big Ben” had gone to his head. He wasn’t signing as many autographs for teammates as he should; some days he would sign, some days he wouldn’t. Late in the season head coach Bill Cowher asked a few veterans to speak to the team before we played Detroit late in the season. At the time we needed to win our final five games to make the playoffs.

Hines Ward, Aaron Smith, Jerome Bettis, and Joey Porter addressed the team. Each guy talked about what we needed to do to win, and Joey zeroed in on Ben. Using blunt language, he told Ben that if he was going to be our leader, he needed to be “one of us.” To his credit, Ben listened—though he didn’t really have a choice. After that moment he became a different person. He grew up fast.

Everything changed for Ben. He started wooing his offensive line by taking them out to top-flight dinners and giving them meaningful gifts. He became the leader of our team, our Pied Piper. All young quarterbacks in the NFL have to grow up, but I don’t think I’ve ever seen one mature as fast as Ben. That all went back to Joey’s advice to him.

On February 5, 2006, we faced the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl XL in Detroit. We were up 14–10 in the fourth quarter and moving the ball down the field when I mentioned to Ken Whisenhunt, our offensive coordinator and play caller, that a reverse pass would work. I had been analyzing the movements of the Seahawks defensive backs and was virtually dead certain that they would run toward the line of scrimmage at the moment they saw the reverse. Then, I believed, Hines Ward would be open on a deep pass. No risk it, no biscuit.

“If we make it to midfield with a first down I think we should call it,” I told Wiz over the headset.

It’s so important for every coach—and every player, for that matter—to know his particular role on the team and accept that role. During this season my role was to protect Ken Whisenhunt and make his job as easy as possible. So one of my main duties was to keep our starting wide receivers, Hines Ward and Plaxico Burress, off Ken’s ass. Both Hines and Plaxico were strong-willed individuals, and they would get upset when they thought they weren’t getting enough passes thrown their way. But I also made sure they vented to me, their receivers coach, and not to Ken, who was busy calling the game.

Earlier that season I had also talked to Bill Cowher about interfering with Ken’s play calls. There were a few times early on when, over the headset, Bill would hear a play call by Ken and say something like, “Here comes a fumble.


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