In all the world of sports, sometimes it certainly seems difficult to find a job that requires a tougher skin than that of being the offensive coordinator of a football team.
Even if you’re excellent at your job, you’re still a slave to the successes and failures of your players executing the plan that you put together. This is true for all coaches, of course, but no other position in sports is so intimately involved in the play-to-play ebb and flow of a game than the person deciding what to do next.
Log on to just about any NFL team message board and there’s a pretty good chance that you’ll see a thread locked to the top of the list using some variation of the theme that begins with the name of that team’s offensive coordinator and begins with the word “fire”. There may also be a multitude of exclamation points and/or capital letters involved.
It’s telling when a music icon recognized around the world posts a video to social media requesting that the head coach of a team fire the offensive coordinator. Such is the reality of the world that Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley lives in, and surely he’s not alone.
But this is a site about the Steelers, so we’re talking about Haley.
The former offensive coordinator of the 2008 Arizona Cardinals that was 31 seconds away from a comeback victory in the Super Bowl against the same quarterback on whom he now depends to look good.
Just a few days ago, he was finally off the proverbially hot seat, as far as the court of public opinion was concerned, while that quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, was slicing through potentially playoff-bound teams for 500 yards at a time or six touchdown passes, breaking franchise records and setting new league marks.
That certainly came to a crashing halt after Sunday’s debacle against the previously 1-8 New York Jets. Haley felt the wrath, but was it really his fault when his offense committed three turnovers, and a fourth came in the process of fielding a punt?
And those four fumbles came from the two best players on this team, on either side of the ball. Antonio Brown muffed that punt, and he also fumbled on the first play of a drive. That literally robbed the offensive coordinator of two opportunities to scheme his unit down the field.
Another turnover occurred in the red zone as the result of a lazy route by a rookie wide receiver and a diving attempt to secure an unlikely interception. And let’s not forget the missed 23-yard field goal.
Nevertheless, the Fire Todd Haley cannons are ringing once again. Whether or not there’s merit behind the fire power, it only presents one side of the coin. It only looks at the results, and not the process. As Haley told Bob Pompeani recently, “it’s ultimately about the players executing the play called”.