The Pittsburgh Steelers are entering a new era on offense with the announcement of Todd Haley as offensive coordinator.
Haley has an extensive background as an offensive coach and will bring that with him as he will try to help improve an underachieving offense that scored only 20.3 points per game.
Beyond improving the offense, Haley knows that the Steelers have more important goals than having an elite offense.
“I am excited about the opportunity to come back home and work for a tremendous organization,” Haley said. “I look forward to helping bring more championships to Pittsburgh and to being a part of one of the storied franchises in the NFL.”
This is one of the main reasons that head coach Mike Tomlin hired Haley. Not only was he pleased with Haley's offensive background, but he appreciated Haley's knowledge of what the Steelers are all about.
"He clearly brings intangibles we really value," Tomlin said. "I talked to a lot of people and did a lot of research, and I was impressed by his resume but also his love for the Pittsburgh Steelers. That was really unique to me.
"I always will be attracted to guys who have an appreciation for the Pittsburgh Steelers and legitimately embrace the standards that are ours."
Haley understands Tomlin's and the Pittsburgh Steelers' standards, and those standards revolve around playing championship-level football.
“There is a very high expectation here in the city of Pittsburgh," said Haley. “We have one goal and that is very clear. We want to win as many games as we can, and play in those big games that we just had to sit and watch, which isn’t a lot of fun.”
To get back to the Super Bowl, the Steelers are going to have to do much better than 21st in the league in scoring.
Most of those problems stem from problems in the red zone, and that will be one of the first things that Haley must help improve.
This will not happen by magic, though, as the Steelers must improve their personnel on the offensive line if they are to have a better success rate at scoring touchdowns.
Until it is proven otherwise, Haley's biggest weakness that he will have to work around is the offensive line. It is a major reason for the Steelers' red-zone and turnover problems.
Unlike former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, it is unlikely that Haley will have the offensive scheme continually expose that weakness and instead work around it.
Haley is not a "system guy" and instead works to his players strengths. That is not saying he will call a perfect game all of the time, but we can expect some tweaks with the offense.
What area should Haley look to improve first?
“We are going to do as a group what we see fit that gives us the best possible chance to succeed,” said Haley. “I have never been a big system guy."
Haley added that while he does a lot of what the Steelers already do, he wants to "start from a clean slate" and will determine what will put the offense in the best position to "score a lot of points."
That should be music to the ears of Steelers fans every where.
All too often, the Steelers left too many points on the board. Failures to convert red-zone opportunities into touchdowns has cost the Steelers games in the past, including their home loss to the Baltimore Ravens last year.
If they did not lose because of the lack of touchdowns, the Steelers have been unable to put away lesser opponents because they had to settle for too many field goals.
Scoring more points may come at the expense of some individual stats, which may not satisfy the ego of some of the players. However, there is no arguing that winning football is priority No. 1 for the Steelers and Haley.
Because of this, Haley is going to go with what works, something that we did not always see from Arians.
“I am just a believer offensively that you do what gives you the best chance to succeed,” he said. “So if your best chance to succeed is to run the ball 63 times a game, then you run the ball 63 times a game. I am going to do what gives our players the chance to be the best they can possibly be because generally when that is occurring, you are doing well. I am not a statistics guy as far as end of the year stats, but I want to protect the football and score points.”
What does this mean for the Steelers? It means that the running game will be an emphasis during training camp, particularly when working inside of the 20 yard-line.
It could also mean a larger role for Heath Miller inside the red zone. He is a huge target who can find open areas in defense and is a big target.
Even outside of the 20, Pittsburgh's receivers are excellent after the catch, and Haley may look to give the offense big-play opportunities without having 40-yard passes.
But will all of the players buy into this philosophy? That remains to be seen, but the most important player to buy into it is Ben Roethlisberger.
There have been questions as to how Roethlisberger will feel about the hiring of Haley and whether or not the two can get along, particularly with Haley's fiery style of coaching.
"I've gotten a lot of calls and texts and emails from people around the league, both good and bad about him,'' Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "I've heard a lot of things and I'm looking forward to meeting him and forming my own opinion."
Regardless of whether Roethlisberger gets along with Haley or not, he will improve with the new coaching.
Haley has coached a top-rated run offense in Kansas City, which included a fullback, and an elite passing offense in Arizona and with the talent on Pittsburgh's offense, there is no doubt they could be a high-powered, balance offensive attack.
Roethlisberger can look no further than Kurt Warner, who gave a glowing endorsement of Haley.
"If he sees something you can do better, he lets you know about it. That was a reason for our success," Warner told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "He pushed me and wanted me to be great. He pushed the guys around me to be great."
Roethlisberger may face the biggest change from Haley, as team president Art Rooney II wants him to "tweak" his game.
Haley has previously worked with Warner, who is not a mobile quarterback, and has experience with a quarterback and the precision passing game.
Granted, this does not mean Haley will completely remove Roethlisberger from what he does best. Instead, there may be an increase percentage of quick passes or designed plays to get Roethlisberger on the run.
Haley also used his running backs in the passing game while in Kansas City. This would be another good option to help keep Roethlisberger healthy.
If Roethlisberger doesn't go for it, Haley will be sure to let him know. Regardless of the process, the Steelers should have an outstanding offense as everyone gets comfortable with each other.
As for this year, expect Haley to ease in a system and use a lot of what the Steelers already do, but focus on their strengths and slowly integrate what is new as the players execute at a high level.
Haley has plenty to work with with excellent options at receiver, tight end and in the backfield, and with Roethlisberger as the on-field leader, the sky is truly the limit for this offense.
Regardless of the style of Haley and the offensive players, the bottom line is that they win football games, and that is the no-nonsense approach that Haley will take.
"It's about the end result," Haley said. "These guys appreciate that. One thing that I've found out, when they know that's what you care about, they're fine with that. Players want to know you have their best and grandest desires at the top of your list."
Another Super Bowl ring is at the top of the Steelers' list, and Haley wants to help deliver it.
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