As we all know by now, Todd Haley will become the new Steelers Offensive Coordinator. Just when you thought Mike Tomlin was dragging his feet in finding Bruce Arians’ replacement, the team found their man in Haley. Rumors were swirling that they were possibly waiting for Kirby Wilson to recover, everybody was wondering when something would happen, well it happened on Monday afternoon. From what we understand, Tomlin also talked to former Raiders Head Coach Hue Jackson over the weekend but Haley was offered the job and accepted.
Todd Haley’s offense will not be Bruce Arians offense. When I say that I’m not insinuating that Arians’ offense was all that bad. We all know he had his shortcomings but he also had some positive qualities as well. I digress though, no sense dwelling on BA any more. Bubble screen anyone? Sorry I just couldn’t resist!
Haley is not a pass happy coordinator, and his stats show it. The Chiefs lead the NFL in rushing in 2010 with 2,627 yds, that’s a 4.7 ypc average folks. Their feature back was of course Jamaal Charles who rushed 230 times for 1,467 yds which equals an impressive 6.4 ypc average. Charles also caught 45 passes for 468 yds. He’s used to having a quality running back and solid offensive line to utlize. The Steelers have quality ball carriers but the offensive line is still yet to be determined as we know all too well.
By seeing those stats you can tell that Haley likes to run the football. Based on what the Rooney’s have made very clear over these last couple of seasons, they are looking to be more efficient on the ground. I think it’s a safe bet that the Steeler Nation as a whole is in favor of just such an offense too. You can see where this hire makes sense for a team trying to regain balance and utilize the explosive weapons they’ve assembled.
As far as passing goes though, the Chiefs finished 30th in 2010. Much of that stat can be attributed Haley’s mentality of playing tough defense and running the ball. It’s not that he had a bad Quarterback, in fact Matt Cassel is a fine signal caller but their team was young and the best way to win with a young team is with tough defense and good ground game.
2011 wasn’t such a great year considering the fact that Haley was let go by the Chiefs when the team was at a 5-8 record. He was replaced by Romeo Crennel, his Defensive Coordinator. A big reason for the Chiefs downward spiral after winning the 2010 AFC West was injuries. Key players were lost for the season including QB Matt Cassel, Jamaal Charles, & Tony Moeaki, arguably 3 of the most important offensive weapons that Haley had. Steeler fans know that you can’t use injuries as an excuse, but when you’re a young team with only a handful of playmakers, it can take it’s toll.
Another thing to like about Haley is that he’s a guy who can adapt his offense to the personnel he has. In 2008 with Arizona he had Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald, and Anquan Boldin; the Cardinals ranked 2nd overall in the NFL in passing offense. In 2010 in Kansas City the Chiefs were 1st overall in the league in rushing. That tells you that he’s flexible enough to build an offense capable of adapting to the talent available to him.
Todd Haley is known to be an innovative type of coach, not afraid to use trick plays and unique formations to achieve success on offense. This is something that I will be interested to see. The weapons that he has available to him in Pittsburgh are more impressive than what he had to work with in Kansas City. Dewayne Bowe is a great Wide Receiver but he’s now got 3 top young targets to utilize in Pittsburgh. Throw in Heath Miller and possibly Jerricho Cotchery along with Ben Roethlisberger and you can see where this could be an offense to get excited about.
Oh, I’m sure we’ll see some bubble screens in 2012, but hey if Haley can get this offense to play up to it’s potential and help Ben Roethlisberger continue to evolve his game then I’m all for it. I admit I wasn’t super excited about the prospect of Haley at first, mainly because he’s known to be a wild card; not afraid to speak his mind and rip his players a new one if you get my drift. I’m not suggesting that’s always a bad thing but it’s not normally how the Steelers operate. Coaches aren’t afraid to get in a players face but they generally do it behind closed doors and keep it out of the media. Haley has no such discretion based on past experience so it’s something to keep an eye on. Discipline is not a bad thing and a little tough love might be just what the doctor ordered.
There are many things to discuss about this hiring and we’ll dive into them all in future articles.