Three years ago, Pittsburgh Steelers ownership decided that they were tired of their $100 million quarterback being banged up. The Rooneys made a huge investment into quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and didn’t want to see that investment squandered in a pass happy offense that was getting Big Ben killed. So previous offensive coordinator Bruce Arians was “retired” and in came polarizing Todd Haley.
Haley was brought in to establish a strong running game, enhance the quick passing game, and keep Roethlisberger upright and healthy. Throughout Haley’s first two years with the Steelers, fans couldn’t wait for him to be fired. There’s been a constant stream of grievances about Haley’s relationship with Roethlisberger, his “dink and dunk” offense, and of course his play calling.
However, three years into his tenure, Haley’s offense is among the most dangerous in the league. He benefits from having a top 5 quarterback, running back, and wide receiver. Big Ben, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown have been breaking NFL and Steelers records left and right this season. The best set of “triplets” in the league deserves the lion’s share of the credit, but you can’t put all the blame on Haley for the Steelers offensive woes and give him no props for how well the offense is doing.
The Steelers are number one in the league in yards per game with 424.9 yards per game. They are averaging 118 rushing yards per game and 4.4 yards per carry.
Pittsburgh has the second best passing attack in the NFL averaging 306.7 passing yards per game.
Roethlisberger has the fourth best passer rating in the NFL (103.4); only Aaron Rodgers, Tony Romo, and Peyton Manning are ahead of him. He has been sacked 32 times (good for 17th in the NFL) which is a far cry from being one of the most sacked quarterbacks in the NFL over a four year period under Arians. Most importantly, Big Ben hasn’t missed a game since 2012 (Knock on wood).
While Haley has done a much better job than he is often given credit for, this offense still has three major shortcomings. The first is getting off to slow starts. It would be encouraging to see the Steelers come out and score easily on their opening drive and not start with a couple three and outs. The second problem is one that has been plaguing them since the Arians days: failing to score touchdowns in the red zone. Every offense wants to score every time they get to the end zone but the Steelers have to get better in the red zone if they want to make it to the playoffs and make some noise. Finally, consistency is a big problem. The Steelers offense looks like an all time great one in one week and then lays an egg the next week. That can’t happen in the final two weeks of the season.
All in all, Haley has done the job he was hired to do. Steelers fans will continue to call for his job the next time he uses more than two bubble screens in a game but will be lamenting his loss if he is hired away this offseason.