Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fichtner Embraces Shot to Make Calls on Offense

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Fichtner Embraces Shot to Make Calls on Offense

Article excerpt

ORLANDO, Fla. - It has been more than 11 years since Randy Fichtner called plays in a football game. His most recent experience came when he coordinated the offense for the University of Memphis for the final time in a game at the University of Texas El Paso in November 2006. A few weeks later, Fichtner got a call from Mike Tomlin, who asked Fichtner to be a part of his original Steelers coaching staff.

Fichtner coached the receivers for three seasons and the quarterbacks for the past eight, all the while wondering if he would get a chance to coordinate an offense in the NFL. That chance came last week when Tomlin named Fichtner, 54, his offensive coordinator.

"You never know for sure if you'll get that chance," Fichtner said Thursday after the Steelers coaches concluded their second Pro Bowl practice. "Everyone has hopes and dreams, and you work toward goals and opportunities. It's a great opportunity for me. I appreciate the Steelers and coach Tomlin for giving me that opportunity."

Fichtner's strong relationship with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is one of the major reasons he was elevated to his new job after Todd Haley's contract was not renewed. In the past eight years, Fichtner has helped Roethlisberger become one of the best passers of his generation.

Roethlisberger, who will be the starting quarterback Sunday for the AFC in the Pro Bowl, said Wednesday it was important to him to promote Fichtner because, at 35, he had no desire to start over with someone from outside the organization.

Fichtner said the relationship with his quarterback is built on trust and consistency.

"Maybe it's an understanding," Fichtner said. "You build up time and an emotional bank account with people and consistency. I've been a constant in the room for him and him likewise for me. He's been in that room since I've been in that room. There's a comfort in that. It comes down to communication and honesty."

Roethlisberger flourished in his 14th NFL season. He threw for 4,251 yards - the fourth time he surpassed the 4,000-yard mark - and 28 touchdowns.

Roethlisberger has two years remaining on his contract and has told teammates he would like to play at least three more years. …

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