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2007 Coaching Changes
Fantasy Impact: Pitshburgh Steelers

New Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (MIN DC: 2006; TB DBs Coach: 2001-2005)
Previous Head Coach: Bill Cowher (1992-2006)

New Offensive Coordinator: Bruce Arians (PIT WRs Coach: 2004-2006; CLE OC: 2001-2003;)

Tomlin's career in coaching began in 1995 at the Virginia Military Institute working with their wide receivers. He then spent a year in Memphis as a graduate assistant before joining Arkansas State's staff in 1997 where he also began as their wide receivers coach. The following year he moved to the other side of the ball and coached the team’s defensive backs. Tomlin then worked as a defensive back coach at University of Cincinnati from 1999-2000 before receiving an offer to be the Tampa Bay Buccaneers defensive backs coach. Tomlin spent the next five seasons in Tampa Bay. In 2006, he joined Brad Childress' staff in Minnesota as the team’s defensive coordinator. After just one season as a coordinator in the NFL, Tomlin signed a 4-year deal with the Pittsburgh Steelers this off-season, becoming their 16th head coach in franchise history.

While in Tampa Bay, Tomlin's secondary unit ranked among the best in the league throughout his tenure. In 2002, the year the Buccaneers won the Super Bowl, their secondary ranked 1st in yards allowed (2785), 1st in touchdowns allowed (10), and 1st in interceptions (31). The year prior, Tampa Bay's secondary ranked 2nd in the league in interceptions with 28. They also ranked 6th in the league in passing yards allowed (3223). Outside of the 2001 and 2005 seasons (ranked 6th), Tampa Bay's secondary never ranked lower than the top 5 in that category under Tomlin.

In his lone season with the Vikings, Tomlin led a defensive unit that ranked 7th in the league in total yards allowed. Surprisingly, Minnesota's secondary gave little support towards accomplishing that task. In fact, they finished the year ranked second to last in passing yards allowed, yielding 4015 yards through the air to opponents. The Vikings run defense played in sharp contrast to the secondary however. They limited teams to an astonishing 2.83 yards per carry, and their 985 rushing yards allowed was best in the NFL. The 9 rushing touchdowns scored against the Vikings ranked them 5th in the league.

Upon his hiring, Tomlin promoted Bruce Arians from his position as a wide receivers coach, to his current position of offensive coordinator with the team. He replaces Ken Whisenhunt, who landed a job in the off-season as the Arizona Cardinals head coach. Prior to his time in Pittsburgh, Arians spent three seasons as Butch Davis' offensive coordinator with the Cleveland Browns. It's also worth noting that from 1998-2000 he was the quarterback coach of the Indianapolis Colts, overseeing Peyton Manning develop into one of the elite quarterbacks in the NFL.

Tomlin's Impact On The Offense:

Quarterbacks: Ben Roethlisberger; Charlie Batch; Brian St. Pierre; Omar Jacobs

Considering Tomlin's background lies mostly in his work as a defensive coach, it's unlikely he will have a direct effect on how the offense plays out this season (although he has mentioned wanting to use multiple TE sets more frequently). In Arians, he has an offensive coordinator with experience at the position, albeit during a disappointing run with the 2001-2003 Cleveland Browns. During that time, Cleveland could never establish an attack on the ground or through the air. The most success Arians could muster from the Browns offense came during the 2002 season. Cleveland finished with a 9-7 record that year, earning themselves a birth in the playoffs. Even so, the offense still ranked among the bottom in the league in all rushing categories, and was no better than middle of the pack with their passing game.

As poorly as Cleveland's offense performed under Arians, it would be unfair to lay the blame solely on him. The Browns were just two years removed from being an expansion team at the time. To say there was a lack of talent for him to work with would be an understatement. In Pittsburgh, not only does he have more gifted athletes in place, but Arians is also familiar with his players and the system run by Ken Whisenhunt, due to his previous three seasons with the team.

While it's difficult to pinpoint exactly what one should expect from the Steelers offense this season, it's likely they will continue to pass the ball more than they did during Roethlisberger's first two years in the league. Depending on the strength of their defense, the 4th-year vet should be in position to come close to matching his yardage output from a year ago of 3528 yards. If the defense has another disappointing season and the Steelers are forced to play from behind often, that number could rise as high as 3700 yards. If they play as a strong, cohesive unit for the majority of the year, then expect him to throw less and finish with something closer to 3350 yards. He should also approach 20 touchdown passes this season, but don't be surprised if his interception total climbs to 15 or higher.

Running Backs: Willie Parker; Najeh Davenport; Kevan Barlow; Verron Haynes

Willie Parker enters the 2007 season coming off a terrific year for himself in 2006. After emerging as Pittsburgh's lead back during their 2005 Super Bowl run, he reached career highs with 1494 yards and 13 rushing touchdowns last season. He also proved to be a durable back, playing in all 16 games and carrying the ball more than 300 times for the first time in his career. While Bill Cowher is no longer around to employ the run first philosophy that had been a mainstay of the Steelers offense for years, there will still be plenty of opportunities for Parker this season. Expect him to finish with another 300 carries and somewhere in the vicinity of 1350 rushing yards. He'll also be a candidate to reach double digits in touchdowns this year.

Free agent acquisition Kevan Barlow will battle Najeh Davenport during training camp for playing time. Whichever of the two is placed second on the depth chart, there's a chance they'll get close to 100 carries for 350-450 yards during the season with an occasional touchdown. Barring injury to Parker however, don't expect more than that from either of the two. Verron Haynes returns to the team as well, recovering from a knee injury that limited him to seven games last season.

Wide Receivers: Hines Ward; Cedrick Wilson; Nate Washington; Santonio Holmes; Willie Reid; Dallas Baker

As mentioned above, expect Roethlisberger to produce more along the lines of last years production rather than that of his first two seasons in the league. With the increased amount of passing attempts, the more opportunities receivers have to get involved in the game. After falling just shy of the 1000- yard mark in each of the past two seasons, expect lead receiver Hines Ward to finish with numbers close to 80 receptions and 1000 yards this year. He's likely reliable for 6-8 touchdowns this season as well.

Second-year wide receiver Santonio Holmes will try to build off his solid showing as a rookie, in which he contributed 49 receptions for 824 yards and 2 touchdowns. Cedrick Wilson and Nate Washington proved to be productive last season as well, but of these three receivers, Holmes is the one with most potential and highest value. It's a little early to expect a 1000-yard season from him, but there's a good chance he'll see a slight increase in his number of receptions while totaling 700-800 yards receiving.

Tight Ends: Heath Miller; Jerame Tuman; Matt Spaeth; Charles Davis

While Tomlin has mentioned in interviews he would like to get more two, and three tight end sets worked within the offense, it's unlikely their presence on the field will lead to more production from a statistical standpoint. Heath Miller has averaged 36 receptions, 426 yards, and about 6 touchdowns the last two seasons. Expect him to finish with similar numbers once again this year, though there is the possibility of a slight improvement.