If I had told you way back in 2012 when Todd Haley was hired to be the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator that the team would only have one playoff win after his first four seasons, would you have bet for or against him still having job? Well, that’s exactly what has transpired up until this point and Haley is now entering his fifth-year with the organization.
Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not advocating that Haley should be gone at this point, but you do have to wonder how much time is left in his Steelers lifespan just the same. After all, Bruce Arians only lasted five years in Pittsburgh as the team’s offensive coordinator and that span included multiple playoff wins, a Super Bowl championship and another Super Bowl appearance. Yes, I get it, Arians was run out of town for not only allowing quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to get hit too many times, but also being too buddy-buddy with him.
Haley, to his credit, has been good for Roethlisberger as the Steelers quarterback has thrived over the course of the last four seasons that included him throwing for a career-high 4,952 yards in 2014. Even so, Roethlisberger has still managed to miss a total of 7 regular-season games over the course of those last four seasons due to injuries, which just so happens to be the same amount of games that he missed during the five years Arians was calling the offensive shots in Pittsburgh. Is that all on Haley? No, of course not.
As far as the Steelers only managing to win one playoff game so far during Haley’s tenure, they would likely have at least one more had wide receiver Antonio Brown not had to miss the Divisional Round game against the Denver Broncos due to a concussion. With that said, their playoff win last year over the Cincinnati Bengals wasn’t exactly a thing of beauty offensively speaking and it included their opposition handing the game over on a silver platter thanks to a late fumble and two very costly penalties.
Additionally, who knows how the playoff game against the Baltimore Ravens in 2014 would have turned out had running back Le’Veon Bell not been sidelined with a knee injury. Injuries, however, are part of the game and every team in the league has to overcome them at some point during a 16 game season and the playoffs.
Haley and the Steelers enter the 2016 season with a lot of optimism as they’re already favored to make a deep playoff run as we sit here in late June. A lot of that optimism is centered around expectations that the Steelers offense will light up the scoreboard in 2016 even more than they did last season. Sure, they won’t have wide receiver Martavis Bryant this season, but the return of Bell and center Maurkice Pouncey, combined with the addition of tight end Ladarius Green, should be more than enough to overcome the loss of that deep weapon. If the Steelers defense winds up being even just slightly better than last year’s unit, that should be icing on the proverbial cake.
So, what happens if the Steelers wind up falling short of their ultimate 2016 goal of adding a seventh Lombardi Trophy to the case? Will merely making a deep playoff run be enough for Haley to see year-six? Will everything depend on how injuries play a part in the season?
Let’s face it, up until Arians and Haley arrived in Pittsburgh, Steelers offensive coordinators not named Tom Moore were either hired to be head coaches elsewhere or fired within four seasons. Haley, by the way, is now the longest tenured offensive coordinator in the AFC and only Darrell Bevell (Seattle Seahawks) and Pete Carmichael, Jr. (New Orleans Saints) have had longer runs when it comes to the rest of the league.
So I ask you: Is 2016 a make or break year for Haley when it comes to his coaching career in Pittsburgh? Do the Steelers have to win the Super Bowl this season in order for him to return in 2017?