When you think of Ben Roethlisberger what’s the first thing that comes to mind? The Steelers starting Quarterback of course, but a close second is the inevitable “he holds onto the ball”. The latter is one of the things that Art Rooney II would probably like to change when he made the comments a couple weeks ago about Ben needing to tweak his game a little bit. Things got blown out of proportion with everybody saying that the Steelers front office wants to change Ben.The word “change” can be taken out of context though.
Tweak his game, sure but not completely overhaul and change who Ben is. Roethlisberger isn’t broken so there’s no need to fix him. There’s certainly nothing wrong though with trying to find way to prolong the career of the Steelers largest investment in the history of franchise(in terms of player contracts). While Ben is certainly not over the hill in NFL years, just finishing his 8th season, he’s not exactly a rookie either. He’s still tough as nails and able to take a hit but finding ways to limit those hits will help not only Ben but the entire offense.
Now that Todd Haley has officially joined the Steelers organization, he will be tasked with helping to take Roethlisberger’s game to the next level and the Steelers offense with him. Ben will be who he is, he’ll probably always hang onto the ball longer than we’d like. However implementing a system where he doesn’t have to to do that as often will help knock off a second or two and perhaps save him from some sacks in the process. Ben can play the quick passing game, we’ve seen it in the past. He can get rid of the ball quickly, he just hasn’t had the opportunity to do so consistently very often.
Haley’s no nonsense approach and boisterous style will be a change from what the players are used too but that’s not a bad thing. See what former Rams and Cardinals QB Kurt Warner had to say about his time working with Haley:
As reported by Gerry Dulac of the Post Gazette: “It doesn’t matter where you stand on the totem pole,” Warner said in a phone interview Tuesday, hours after Haley’s hiring was announced by the Steelers.
“If he sees something you can do better, he lets you know about it. That was a reason for our success.”
“I enjoyed playing for him,” said Warner, a two-time league MVP and Super Bowl MVP with the St. Louis Rams before he joined the Cardinals. “I’m a guy who loves to be challenged in a lot of different ways, and that’s what Todd is about. He pushed me and wanted me to be great. He pushed the guys around me to be great.”
If Ben can bring that attitude to the meeting room and the practice field this offseason it will go a long way towards solidifying a working relationship with his new offensive coach. Maybe they won’t be pals off the field like he and Bruce Arians were but that doesn’t mean they can’t be successful. It’s a different style of coaching and motivation that, while Ben may not be used too, he may be able to get used to it. Honestly there’s no reason to think that Ben won’t be anything but professional and a team player when it comes to how Haley will run the offense. If there’s one thing he preaches nearly every time he’s been interviewed it’s that he takes pride in being on the field with his teammates. He doesn’t want to let them down come injury or interception, blow out or close call, he wants to be on the field with the ball in his hands to try and secure the victory. His competitive attitude should work well with Haley once they get started working together. Will it cause some friction potentially, I would say so but it won’t be anything that tears the team apart.
Haley will focus on improving the run game as much as he’ll be working on improving the passing game. A solid, dependable, ground attack is a Quarterbacks best friend. The Steelers have capable ball carriers in Isaac Redman and Rashard Mendenhall as well as stable of young, somewhat unproven, talent waiting in the wings. In 2010 under Haley, the Chiefs running game was #1 in the league. Jamaal Charles is a fine running back but there’s no reason to think that either Redman or Mendenhall (assuming he comes back from the ACL injury ok) can’t do the same. Preface that last statement with, assuming the team addresses the offensive line. During his tenure with the Cardinals he worked with Kurt Warner and led them to Super Bowl XLIII against the Steelers.
When Haley was with the Cardinals and Chiefs, he never had a fully balanced compliment of talent to work with. Either the passing game was top flight or the running game, but he never had both available to him. He has that now in Pittsburgh.
The Steelers finished a pedestrian 14th overall in the league in rushing, and 10th in passing. As we talked about in previous articles the redzone scoring will be hot topic for 2012. The Steelers finished 17th overall in the league in redzone scoring touchdown percentage, 50.91%. That stat absolutely must improve because the bottom line is scoring touchdowns. You settle for field goals and you play in entirely too many close games and potentially lose games you shouldn’t.
The new Steelers coordinator will have his work cut out for him, but if I’m Haley I’m pretty darn excited about the talent I have to work with and the potential for greatness.