While the Pittsburgh Steelers may have gained some tangible evidence of improvement, improving their win total by three games and hosting a playoff game as a division champion for the first time in four seasons, there is no doubt that the team is far from a finished product.
No team, of course, is a finished product in the offseason. Every team loses players to free agency and retirement, and replaces them through the same free agency process, as well as the draft.
With all of the change that occurs during the offseason, it’s often difficult to predict how a particular team might fare. They may wind up holding the Lombardi trophy or the first overall draft pick when all is said and done.
In order to gain a better feel for not only the issues facing the team this year, but how those issues might play out, it’s useful to take the devil’s advocate approach. This is the optimistic side of the coin.
Question: Was it smart to extend offensive coordinator Todd Haley’s contract two more seasons?
Much to the chagrin of certain famous rappers, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley certainly has a good argument to make as to why he deserved to have his contract extended by two years following the team’s 2014 season, which ended abruptly in a Wildcard loss that saw the offense only produce 15 points.
When reviewing the season’s entire body of work, there’s little doubt that the offense was the driving force behind the Steelers’ 11-5, division-leading record. In fact, in 2014, the offense produced more points per game than any other offense in team history, behind the Super Bowl-winning 1979 unit.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger tied his own franchise record by throwing 32 touchdown passes, while the team as a whole completed 33 touchdowns through the air, adding another 10 touchdowns on the ground.
Speaking of Roethlisberger, he also shattered his own franchise record by coming close to throwing for 5000 yards through the air, and doing so at a rate greater than eight yards per pass attempt.
What’s more, his nine interceptions on over 600 pass attempts translates into a remarkable successful season in terms of aerial ball security, even if he did lose a few too many fumbles. But that was counterbalanced by Le’Veon Bell’s zero fumbles on nearly 400 touches.
Bell, likewise, had a remarkable season, rushing for over 1300 yards at 4.7 yards per rush. He put together a string of three games in which he totaled over 200 yards, becoming only the second player in history to do so.
Also noteworthy is the fact that Haley is conducting an offense that is made up of so many young pieces at the skill positions, which isn’t always easy, and at times requires a soft hand, which is counter to the reputation that he brought with himself to Pittsburgh. But he has proven himself to be a strong offensive mind who is getting the most out of his players, making it a no brainer to prolong this working relationship.