Todd Haley Will Bring Emotion Back to Pittsburgh Steelers Sideline
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If that turns out to be a problem, here's a solution. Win another Super Bowl, Ben.
That way Haley will get a head coaching job, and he'll be gone.
Of course another way to get Haley run out of Pittsburgh is to go 3-13, but I like the first scenario better.
It's hard not to get excited about the Steelers hiring Haley to run the offense. He called plays for an Arizona Cardinals offense that damn near beat the Steelers in Super Bowl XLIII.
As a head coach, Haley took a 2-14 Kansas City Chiefs team and led them to the AFC West title in two years.
As if Haley's resume hasn't been enough to raise his profile, his shouting matches with players have made him a YouTube favorite.
Haley will bring to Pittsburgh sideline theatrics not seen since the days of Bill Cowher.
It was part of the show in the 1990s when Cowher stuffed a photo into an official's pocket, raised his fist toward an opposing player or kissed Joey Porter.
I doubt Haley and Roethlisberger will smooch on the sidelines. I also don't think Haley will bring back the run-first mentality of the 1990s Steelers.
At least I hope he doesn't.
There are still those who yearn for the days when the Steelers were a smash-mouth running team and throwing the ball was an afterthought. The only time the Steelers went to the Super Bowl in those days was 1995, when Neil O'Donnell put up some halfway decent numbers during a contract year.
Jerome Bettis joined the Steelers a year later, but he never could carry them to the Super Bowl. Sure, he got there in 2005, but that wasn't until the Steelers could finally throw the ball.
The most pivotal Steelers victory in the post-Steel Curtain era came in the 2005 Divisional Round when the Steelers stunned the Indianapolis Colts. No one expected the Steelers to come out throwing the ball in that game, but that's what they did, and the Colts weren't ready for it.
Sure, Roethlisberger was dreadful in Super Bowl XL, but the Steelers wouldn't have been there were it not for his 123.0 quarterback rating in the three previous AFC playoff games.
In today's NFL, running the ball is like dial-up Internet. It's obsolete.
The New York Giants won the Super Bowl despite being ranked dead last in the NFL in rushing during the regular season. The Packers, Saints and Patriots were the three highest-scoring teams in the NFL this season, and they ranked 27th, sixth and 20th, respectively, in rushing yards per game.
I know Haley's Chiefs led the NFL in rushing when they went 10-6 and won the AFC West in 2010. But that team had Jamaal Charles, who when healthy is better than Rashard Mendenhall. Like Ray Rice, the Steelers could have selected Charles in the 2008 draft but opted instead to select Mendenhall and Limas Sweed.
That Chiefs offense was a far cry from Haley's high-flying Cardinals offense. That contrast shows that Haley can design an offense to a team's strengths, and the Steelers' strength is at quarterback and wide receiver.
A team with Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders should be able to score points like the Packers, Saints and Patriots. That's what you have to do to go far in the playoffs in today's NFL. You have to do better than 21st in the league in scoring.
Everyone's talking about how Roethlisberger will react to Haley. Big Ben's maturity will be tested when Haley rubs him the wrong way.
However, I think the player to really watch under the new regime is Wallace. His production tailed off in the second half of the season, and from reading the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, it seemed he might have had a bit of an attitude in the locker room. He could benefit from Haley's tough-love approach as he tries to make him a more complete receiver.
Speaking of players who catch the ball, Haley might have offered a hint of what's to come during his introductory press conference on Thursday. According to ProFootballTalk.com, Haley said he's a "huge fan of Heath Miller."
Hopefully that means tight ends will become more prominent in the Steelers' offense. The Patriots got to the Super Bowl by making their tight ends a big part of the offense. Anyone think New England would have lost to the Giants had Rob Gronkowski been healthy?
It's not going to help that tight end Weslye Saunders is suspended for the first four games of the 2012 season for using performance enhancing substances. He's an up-and-coming player and that's not going to help his progress.
Saunders had character issues in college, so he certainly could benefit from being chewed out by Haley every now and then.
Haley's tempestuous manner has the potential to blow up in the Steelers' face. This is a high-risk, high-reward move.
Do you think the Steelers made the right choice in hiring Todd Haley as offensive coordinator?
However, it's the type of thing that needed to be done after the Steelers' playoff loss in Denver. As banged up as the Steelers were, a 12-4 team should not lose in the Wild Card Round to a quarterback whose rating was 27th in the NFL.
A more efficient offense would have prevented that loss.
The infamy of a Steelers' loss to the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII would have been comparable to the loss in Denver. The Steelers' historically stout defense was almost beaten by Haley's offense.
Haley did beat the Steelers the following year and helped instigate their 2009 downfall when the 4-12 Chiefs upset the Steelers in Kansas City.
So while not on the same scale as the Ravens or Patriots, Haley has been something of a Steelers antagonist in recent years.
Now he's on their side.
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