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Thursday, February 09, 2012

Thoughts on Haley

I have largely reserved my thoughts on the Steelers' hiring of Todd Haley to this point.

But after meeting with Haley today and then hearing what Ben Roethlisberger told the Post-Gazette, I can hold back no longer.

Roethlisberger reportedly told the P-G that he has heard from a lot of people regarding Haley, some good some bad, but that he is reserving judgment.

He then, however, said he'd hate to see the offense changed because it could set the team's young receivers back two or three years.

Which ones? The ones who have only been in the league for two or three years?

That is a ridiculous statement by Roethlisberger and, though Haley did not address the quarterback's comments directly, he did say that players usually see that he has their best interests at heart when he is doing things.

Roethlisberger liked Bruce Arians. And he was comfortable with Arians as offensive coordinator because he got to call a lot of the shots.

That dynamic is now gone and Roethlisberger is wary of what the results will be.

I get that.

But the Steelers made the decision to move on from Arians because they felt he was an enabler.

We always heard the excuses. The Steelers were a play away here or there, they weren't all on the same page, etc., etc.

Haley won't settle for excuses. He'll want results.

And if that means not playing Chris Kemoeatu at left guard for two seasons longer than he should have, so be it.

If that means Roethlisberger will be forced to get the ball out of his hands more quickly to take fewer sacks in an attempt to keep him from being injured, that's just dandy as well.

Haley has shown that he's not afraid to call what he thinks his team does best. When he was with the Cardinals, it was a prolific passing attack. When he moved on to Kansas City, a power-running game took over.

As Haley said Thursday, his emphasis is on winning. And Roethlisberger, who is as competitive as they come, won't have a problem with that.


Anonymous said...

Amen, Dale.

Does Ben seriously think Haley could be that incompetent or that his receivers are that dumb?

(Of course Ben doesn't seriously, literally, think what his comments imply -- but why not just be quiet and / or generic and then just whine about the whole thing the next time he golfs with the Bruce?)

Anyway, once Big Baby's feelings heal & they really start working together, I think the offense will improve significantly.

And yes, I think Ben is a top 5 QB most of the time, potentially a Hall of Famer, but he's really, really annoying. Whatever, they don't give him $100 million to be smart (for the most part, I guess)

Whack said...

Dale, love the professionalism...

This is a gem of a blog...

I gotta vent, after reading some of the articles on Haley in the Pgh papers (especially the one by DK) I was a lil turned off by the reporters harsh criticism… reminded me a lil of the Bill Stewart incident.

I am excited about the addition of Haley, let’s give the guy a chance and see what he can do.

Anonymous said...

Dale, what is yor best prognostication of what offense will "look like?". I predict a balanced offense that can beat you on the ground or through the air, but will try to establish a physical run game to set up the pass.

adamg said...

Sure seems that sitdown BR was planning to have with Art II to discuss the offense will instead be a meeting with the new OC.

I had to laugh at the comment about the WRs. I think they've played for many different coaches along the way and will be able to work with Haley, a former WR position coach. They were merely a proxy for BR not wanting to adapt to change. The biggest problem seems to be BR might have to learn to be a real NFL qb, not just one who gets by on improvising a lot.

Dale Lolley said...

I have to believe the offense will still be tilted toward the pass because that's where the talent lies, But a different view on things in the running game - ie. different formations and such - could make it more effective.

Henigin said...

Dale, any thoughts on Florio (profootballtalk)'s rambling that some think that Tomlin didn't want to hire Haley, he was potentially forced upon Tomlin by the Rooneys? My personal guess is that it's a bunch of crap, but curious if there could be anything to it, as I sure don't want the Steelers to lose their stud young coach when his contract expires in 2 yrs

Jeff C said...

I have been a Ben support through all his drama (NV,GA). Guilty/Not Guilty... he behaved like a jacka$$. I have defended him up until now. Here is a man who the Rooney's, The city of Pittsburgh and Steelers nation has not only given a 2nd chance but a 3rd chance. As a result....he should be a bit more humble...a bit more thankful we (the fans) let him back in the circle, the Rooney's did not let him go....and the city of Pittsburgh did not turn their backs. But yet I have to listen to his word as if he were still above everyone else. The Rooney's need to cart his a$$ out of Pittsburgh. If Tomlin has a problem with it...get him out of here too. If it means no playoffs for years to be it. I am tired of being embarrassed as a fan over Ben Roethliesbergers character.

Dale Lolley said...

I put no stock in Florio's rambling on the subject.

As for running Roethlisberger out of town, that's a bit extreme, don't ya think? This team floundered for years without a franchise QB. You really want to go back to having the Mike Tomczaks of the world running the show?
Just look at the active QBs who have won Super Bowls. There aren't many because you need a stud at that position to get it done.

Anonymous said...

Florio wouldn't be all over NBC if he wasn't seriously credible and had legit inside sources.

Gold Mike Tomczak said...

Dig the Tomczak reference. That is pretty much all I got. I think Ben and Haley will gel by the end of camp and this offense should actually be able to score TDs in the red zone with a less predictable offense.

Anonymous said...

Ben is going to continue to hold the ball and look off shorter routes ... and there really isn't a thing that Haley and his surly attitude can do about it unless we want to turn the team over to Dennis Dixon for the next 4 to 5 years.

Dale Lolley said...

There's plenty the OC can do about it. He can call plays that don't call for all the receivers to run deep.
And he can actually tell the QB to take what's there. Arians told Ben to just keep doing what he was doing. Often times it worked. But it also opened him up to a lot of hits.

Steve-O said...

I loved Haley's interview, his answers come quickly and it looks like he'll establish himself as the guy who is running the show. It won't take long for Ben to adapt, his comments are just typical Ben media drama. And i suspect the receivers will flourish over the next 2 years.

Only one negative (I'm nitpicking). Couldn't somebody get Haley a comb before he went out in front of the national media?

Anonymous said...

Only in this town would anyone look at a QB with 3 trips to the Super Bowl under his belt and 2 rings and arrive at the conclusion that the QB needs to work on his game. Has anyone considered Ben may actually know what he's doing? That he may actually know a thing or two about playing championship football? The object of the game is still to win, right?

Ben doesn't hold the ball because everyone is running deep. Ben holds the ball because he likes going down field. Ben holds the ball because past success has instructed his current and future playing style. Do you think the Patriots would even think of hiring someone to tell Tom Brady that he's been doing it wrong all these years?

Ken M said...

Well said, Dale! As much as everyone has said that Ben has changed and is a leader in the lockerroom, he still tends to talk without thinking about how it sounds like. Saying that the receivers are the most talented players in the team, although might be true, isn't really the most diplomatic way to say things. Maybe Ben is not bright but a great athlete. Anyway, whatever.

At first, I too was skeptical about Haley because of his brashness, but it's probably what the Steeler offense needs! Someone needs to be a boss/mentor for Ben and not so much a friend. Maybe someone needs to get in Ben's face more rather than just obliging him. One of Haley's strengths is his ability to make adjustments when things aren't going well during a game unlike Arians. Haley is a real play caller. He adapts to what defenses give him. A good example of this was when the Cardinals came back to take the lead in the Super Bowl against us till the last 2 minutes! I also just don't get the sudden Arians Love that's been going around in the main Pgh media. Yes, the Steelers went to the superbowl twice when Arians was here, but he wasn't the sole reason, there was also a great defense during those two trips!

Anonymous said...

A new offense take time to implement.

The offense is young, they just learned the old offense and they have struggled. Haley know that. So does Ben. Ben is 30, he doesn't have 2-3 years to wait for an offense to get good. Baltimore kept Cameron for the same reason, Flacco and his young receivers.
So b4 u jump on Ben know that.

adamg said...

Florio's comments came after he was invited on Cook's radio show to agree with the premiss of Cook's silly column.
'Nuff said.

Anonymous said...

I blame Rooney for this mess. He made Tomlin look bad. Why didn't someone get Ben and Haley together?

Tomlin is losing cred.

Oh Mike Florio is probably the worst person when it comes to people in the know. He gets everthing from others. Nothing is ever original.

Anonymous said...

Dale, I adamantly concur with every point you made with your assessment of coach Haley's hire and the subsequent comments made by Ben. After reading Kovasevic's column: "Haley's hire a nutty narrative" I was compelled to respond to what I believed was a baseless, unfounded and unjustified response to Mr. Rooney's hiring of coach Haley. The following is an excerpt from my e-mail response to him: "In my opinion, Haley's passion and his lack of patience for laziness and mediocrity is what is needed for this offense to reach it's potential. Ben and the rest of the offensive players had better get used to being pushed beyond where Ariens was too unwilling to go. This is the NFL. It's a man's game. I don't care if the player's feelings get hurt along the way. Get over it or get out. If they want a touchy-feely coach then find employment elsewhere." As you can see we are of like mind as to what we expect Haley's impact on the offense will be. I Love reading your columns because you call it as you see it.

Anonymous said...

Has Haley heard anything bad about Ben? As well as good?

Anonymous said...

Rooney wanted Arians out but Tomlin hired Haley. Rooney had nothing to do with the hire

marc said...

please stop telling me it takes 2-3 years for an offense to gel. haley was at the cards for 2 years as OC and that offense was great. sure, warner was a great QB, but the QB and WR's were all on the same page.

also, i am sick and tired of people referring back to how BR has won 2 superbowls, blah, blah, blah. BR played well in the playoffs leading up to his 1st superbowl and then did everything he could to lose it. imo, BR was given 1 superbowl and won another.

dale, will haley want to bring the FB back into the fold?

Anonymous said...

I really wish we had Mendenhall for the start of the season. I liked Arians, but it never felt like he used him the right way

hopefully Haley does, late in the year at least

Roy said...

Some of you on here need a fooball education. When Erhardt became OC in 1989/90 The offense stagnated because of terminology. The players were baffled. It will take a while for those young guys to learn.

And yes Ben got the Steelers to 3 super bowls. Two of which they won.

They wouldn't have gotten there if it weren't for BBR. FACT

alexrkirby said...

Whatever happens I'm betting that we do better than 21st in scoring this season.

I'd be happy to get rid of that kind of "continuity".

Can people quit acting like Ben won us two Super Bowls? We probably don't win those without him but without the defenses we had those years I don't think we even make the playoffs in 05 and 08.
This isn't Ben's team, its led by the defense.

ibygeorge said...

Haley is going to do just fine. Look at his resume and the talent he gets work with. If he can figure out a way to keep his linemen healthy for a season, the Steelers will have 2 genius coordinators on the team. My guess this problem has to do with the off season conditioning program. If so, he better get busy.

Anonymous said...

The Steelers would not have gone to those three Super Bowls without a QB of Roethlisberger's caliber, sure, but Roethlisberger wouldn't have gone to any Super Bowls without a consistently top 3 defense. The last season (2008) that we won a Super Bowl, that team gets nowhere near the playoffs without a dominant defense. The defense also scored a touchdown in the AFCCG & the Super Bowl. The offense has been carried by the defense, on the whole, for years. The offense's mediocrity is Ben's & Bruce's fault -- fortunately Ben's late-game heroics & improvisation (and the defense holding the other teams to so few points) let them get away with it.

Anonymous said...

Who needs a football education again? Ron Erhardt wasn't the OC in 1989-1990. 1989 Tom Moore was still the OC, IIRC. In 1990 Joe Walton was.

The offense stagnated in part under Walton, allegedly, because his scheme was so elaborate....but mostly because Joe Walton was a horrible, horrible caller of plays who did not remotely try to play to his personnel's strengths, he attempted to play to his scheme's strength instead and "damn the consequences."

If "nomenclature" is the only thing being used as an excuse for holding an offense back then there are far more serious issues involved. Al Saunders playbooks has something, like, 700+ plays in it. I've never heard any griping from his teams after he's been hired when they wind up top 5 in the league in scoring. Ditto Charlie Weis.

Football players are paid to play football. Take the playbook home and learn it. Route trees don't change. Blocking assignments don't change. One coach calls something "red", another coach calls it "blue". One coach calls something "Boss", another calls it "Cowboy." It's not rocket science.

Anonymous said...

I think thing will be fine. Ben's comments are just ego stroking. I love Ben but he's got a huge ego and he just wants his side of things heard.

All that said, that does not mean he won't work with Haley or fall in line. I view it more as "Well, I'm on board and will go along, but I just want you to know that I don't like it".

Bill in DC said...

Why is everyone so quick to be all over the Rooneys and Tomlin? Why does everyone care about process so much? Are we the Bengals? The Browns? The Redskins?

No, we are the Pittsburgh Steelers. 8 time AFC Champions, 6 time Super Bowl winners. The most successful franchise over the last four decades.

I know it is the offseason (or offeseason) but lets get real. There is no reason to believe the Steelers have made a bad call.

Tomlin, as far as I can tell, hasn't had one bad hire on his staff. He's been to two Super Bowls and four playoffs in his first 5 seasons. He has three AFC titles and lost the tie breaker this season. He is 55-25 in 5 years. No losing seasons. And a Super Bowl title.

When the o-line was suffering he brought in a coach that made a big difference in their performance. This season he brought in a coach that worked wonders with our CBs. We went from our pass D being a liability to being #1 in the NFL.

All of a sudden you would think that the OC is the Most Important Pareson on a Football Team.

Could Haley stand to grow up a bit? Maybe. Will the Steelers organization be a good influence on him? Yes.

He has a body of work that is impressive. A top passing O, a top rushing O and made adjustments that almost cost us out 6th SB.

Grown men have half a year to get this started. I have every confidence in the Rooneys and in Tomlin to make this work.

I think the O could use fresh eyes on it and some tweeks as well.

We aren't talking about an overhaul here.

We aren't a team that has suffered from decades of bad decision making.

Ben, Troy and this team have a window of opportunity to bring home another trophy or two and there is nothing here to suggest that the Steelers have hurt themselves in anyway.

Bill in DC said...

*everyone should be so many people in reference to being all over the Rooneys and/or Tomlin

TarheelFlyer said...

Just a couple of comments:

1. Haley has said the terminology will be pretty close to the same. I am not worried about the offense stagnating. We were 21st in scoring with Ben flying by the seat of his pants every play. The O will make mistakes on patterns or throw to the wrong spot on occasion but I truly don't worry about this.

2. Haley's FIRE is not an issue to me. I know that many are worried he will piss Ben off and he will go sulk, but I don't think that will happen. The last fiery coach we had here did pretty well. Remember him...Bill Cowher? Remember how many times you have seen, I wish Tomlin would show more emotion. The public confrontation could be averted if Haley decides to call plays from the press box and keep Fichtner on the sideslines.

3. On what can Haley do to control Ben. He can put in a gameplan that pretty much neuters his "let's fling it 50 yards philosophy". He can call run plays over and over. It may take benching him for a few plays, but if he has the Rooney's support, guess who will win?

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
marc said...

based on some of the commments here, why would anyone ever get a new OC, it takes at least 3 years for the new offense to work!!

and a WR in his 3rd year becomes a rookie all over again!! he won't have any idea how to prepare for the season, or prepare for the next game, or read the defenses coverage, or run a route, or catch the ball...!!

my god, how will the o-line block anyone, they'll be speaking two different languages!!

and the RB's, don't forget the RB's, they can't find the holes because they don't understand the play call in the huddle!!

sign, never mind, it's too hard to get a new OC, too much work, takes too long for everyone to figure it out.

i guess teams should stop brining in free agent WR's too. it will take them 3 years to learn the new system. same for free agent QB's as well.

how about this, any inefficiency in offense next season attributed to lack of communication or understanding is nothing more than an excuse for lack of preparation.

Dale Lolley said...

Given that Haley worked with both Erhardt - who didn't come to Pittsburgh until 1992 - amd Whisenhunt, it's not a complete offensive makeover.

And Erhardt did have success in his first season with the Steelers. Barry Foster came out of nowhere to set a team record with 1,692 yards that season.

This team has an entire offseason to work on this stuff.

kelly said...

I really don't think Haley is going to come in and try to reinvent the wheel here. He'll likely try to use some of what the team has in place and install some of his own ideas. No point in turning the entire offense completely upside-down and risk staggering through next season.

Anonymous said...

"And you can bet that the days of the offensive coordinator playing golf or going on vacation with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger are over"

See what's the point? You don't think coaches have ever golfed with players before?

Low rent comment from a second rate, irrelevant hack.

marc said...

"They wouldn't have gotten there if it weren't for BBR. FACT"

actually, not a fact. like i have said before, his first superbowl was handed to him by an awesome team. BR only attempted 22 passes per game that year while they rushed the ball 34 times per game. the defense was top 5 in almost every category.

BR's yard's per attempt was excellent because the play action was so effective from the steeler's ability to run the ball so effectively so often. any QB could have taken that team to the superbowl. and as BR showed, they didn't need a QB to win that superbowl.

DIRT4HOF said...

Dale, Thank you so much for not joining in on the local media`s campain to over exagurate Art II and Coach T`s coments. I`m so sick of hearing and reading misquotes that misinform the readers and take on a life of their own...
I believe we can finally move on from same old same old Offense to the high powered offense that we`ve all been expecting for a while. Todd Hailey can and will do that without blowing up the whole playbook.

adamg said...

Dale, heard your interview with Greg Linnelli on 102.5HD2 channel. Good stuff, far superior to the yammering of other local sportstalk stations.

Dale Lolley said...

Ah, what do I know, I'm just a second-rate hack.

Just kidding. You don't like the blog or what I have to say, you're more than welcome not to come back.

I'm not going to diminish Roethlisberger's accomplishments at all. They won in his rookie season and the first Super Bowl because of him.

He was outstanding in the playoffs in 2005. Did he have a great Super Bowl? No. But he made enough big plays to win.

Most people don't like change. Ben is obviously one of those. But that doesn't mean he can't/won't accept it.

As for his relationship with Arians, it was relevant. The Steelers didn't like Arians' cozy relationship with the QB any more than they liked him blabbing their draft board or injuries to certain members of the media.

In fact, given Kevin Colbert's secrecy with his draft board and Mike Tomlin's desire to play it close to the vest on injuries, don't think that didn't play a factor in Arians being gone.

Anonymous said...

Dale, then why the heck did Tomlin want Arians back?

Mark said...

@Anon - Dale pointed out there were a few reasons why Tomlin might not want Arians back. That doesn't mean that there aren't reasons why Tomlin might want Arians to stay.

Greg Mercer said...


will Haley have the authority to call timeouts at the end of halves? both Tomlin and Ben did not do a good job in that area this year.

keep up the great work. i've never understood why someone would waste their time reading and commenting on a blog they hated. must be from Cleveland.

Dale Lolley said...

Oh, I'm sure from a continuity standpoint, Tomlin would have wanted Arians back.

He was, after all, asked about it less than 24 hours after the playoff loss. I'm sure he hadn't given it a ton of thought.

But, and this is conjecture, isn't it possible that after reflecting on it and meeting with Colbert and Art II, he decided it was time to cut ties? Maybe they pushed him in that direction, but perhaps they weighed the pluses and minuses and decided to cut bait?

adamg said...

Madden interviewed Labriola the other day and asked specifically if Haley was Tomlin's hire. Labriola said unequivocally that he was. I know Labriola works for the Steelers, but he's always struck me as a straight shooter, fwiw.

Anonymous said...

I am not nor have I been a big fan of Mendenhall's running style. It is Mendenhall's shy, soft spoken and somewhat introverted persona that I find fault with. I have always felt that he lacks the mental toughness and intestinal fortitude to become the type of back that I think he should be for the Steelers. I would infuriate me whenever he attempted to spin away from a tackle or turn his back to toward a tackler to absorb the hit. Fact: A running back turning his back toward a defender to avoid the hit can not possibly advance down field if he can't see the cut-back lanes. By contrast, Redman's mindset is the antithesis of Mendenhall's.

Anonymous said...

If ward leaves I can't see a reason Cotchery is not resigned

he wasn't given the contract he wanted last year and not much has changed, just the he was be the #3 on a team with very explosive young receivers

he works for our offense, hope they keep him

Anonymous said...

What do you take from Gerry D, that BA said,"In 5 yrs. coach T never called a play, stopped a play, changed a play, or words to that effect. That to me is beyond belief! What say you?

adamg said...

I read somewhere in the PG that Dulac and BA are also good friends. I'd speculate that one is using/helping the other to get BA's side out in the media.

Otherwise, I'm not surprised as Tomlin's a head coach who allows his coaches to coach without much interference.

Dale Lolley said...

Tomlin trusts his coordinators to call the plays. He doesn't meddle.

Tony Defeo said...

I just find it funny that so many Steelers fans seem to be more excited about the possibility of Haley using a fullback than they are about what he may be able to do with regards to making Roethlisberger a much better quarterback. I don't know if he'll be able to or not, but I doubt that he'll come to Pittsburgh and try to make them the top rushing attack in football.

JC said...

Very well said Dale, I for one am ready for BB to take the next step and quit making so many "rookie" mistakes. I know it is a fine line with his style of play, but he has to be smarter not only with the ball, but with his health, he isn't getting any younger. That being said, I believe that Haley is just the right man for the job to get Ben there.