New Pittsburgh Steelers’ Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley strolled to the podium at yesterday’s introductory news conference looking as though he’d been up late studying for final exams in college with his over-sized pullover and disheveled hair. This was nothing out of the ordinary for Haley who often looks like a mad scientist about to make a breakthrough.
The most important element in Haley’s newest concoction is one he has yet to meet with and it is a blend that has Steeler Nation holding its’ collective breath. QB Ben Roethlisberger spoke publicly for the first time yesterday with Pittsburgh Post-Gazette Reporter Ed Bouchette and I think you have to take a close look at Roethlisberger’s comments before jumping to any conclusions. Roethlisberger openly admits he has received many calls and texts, some good and some bad, about Haley but he also said he is “looking forward to meeting him and forming his own opinion.”
Some will read this article by Bouchette and think Ben is being a little over-the-top or ‘dramatic,’ a tag that has followed him throughout his career. I don’t interpret things that way though. I see a guy who knows he is at the most important stage of his career and change of any kind is a scary proposition regardless of what it is. There are going to be spats and there are going to be arguments between the two men; you can count on it. I would expect nothing less from two highly competitive men. If however, this brings big wins and championships then I don’t think people will be at all concerned.
Ben’s concerns are genuine. He sees a young group of receivers who have come a long way the last couple of years and he has justifiable concerns about just how much change they can handle. Many times new offensive coordinators will completely overhaul an existing offense yet keep much of the same terminology. If the hire is from within, then usually very little changes. What Ben fears most is a completely different system from terminology to formations to play-calling. This sets teams back and number seven knows it.
Based on Haley’s comments yesterday, I think you’ll see much of the same offense but it will have significant ‘tweaks’ made to it. I think I speak for Steelers’ fans when I say hopefully most of those are in the red zone offense. The general public really won’t know much about Haley’s offense until the OTA’s later this spring. You may also get some tell-tale signs during the draft at the end of April as well. Haley’s input will be important but don’t make more out of a lineman being drafted ahead of a tight end or fullback. Sometimes it’s all about need and we ALL know where we need help.
As long as there is football, players and coaches will argue. It’s the nature of the beast in the game of football. Terry Bradshaw and Chuck Noll were constantly at each other’s throat. Phil Simms and Bill Parcells weren’t exactly exchanging Christmas cards either, but they won a lot of games. The game of football is intense and it’s played by spirited individuals and led by high-energy guys like Haley.
There will be spats and disagreements and they won’t just be with Ben. Receivers are typically a sensitive lot and I can easily see Haley and Wallace face to face on occasion but this will not be the Hatfield’s and McCoy’s. I have total confidence in the fact that Ben knows he is in the crucial years of his career and the opportunity to go down as one of the greats is way more powerful than worrying about arguments with Haley. Both guys have personal agendas with goals that can be met by working with one another. This is exactly what I believe will happen.