A lot of things can be said in favor of the Pittsburgh Steelers’ most immediate predecessors at either coordinator position, namely Bruce Arians and Dick LeBeau. One of them is not likely to be a great willingness to be adaptable in their philosophy. Both of them had an idea of how they wanted to run things and proceeded to run things accordingly.
According to the players on the current roster, however, you hear a different tune about the Steelers’ coordinators, those being Todd Haley, going into his sixth season, on the offensive side, and Keith Butler, going into his third as coordinator, on defense. Butler, of course, was here for more than a decade prior to succeeding LeBeau.
Things has certainly evolved since Haley first came aboard. Much was made over whether or not Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had called Haley, so much that it has become a running joke. Roethlisberger allegedly resented Arians’ firing, as they were close friends. Now he and Haley are close.
“It’s fun to work so close with a guy like that”, he said during an interview with SiriusXM discussing his relationship with Haley. And it’s not just because they get along together so well on a personal level, but also on a professional level.
“I think the great thing about Todd”, he said, is that “Todd works so well with all the coaches, all the players, and really will take any input that we give him because he’s all about it being our offense”. Roethlisberger said that “it’s almost a rarity from coordinators because coordinators are so much, ‘it’s my way’”, and one wonders if he might have had Arians in mind.
Mike Mitchell, too, made similar comments regarding Butler on SiriusXM. “That’s one thing I do love”, he said about working under his defensive coordinator. “Coach Butler, because he’s a former linebacker, a former player, he does listen to us a lot.
“Obviously he’s still the boss man and we’re for sure doing what he says, but he definitely has an open ear where if we say ‘hey coach, maybe if we do it like this’, he’s definitely open to suggestions, especially when it comes from a guy like Will Gay or myself, a guy that’s been around the league a little bit”.
It might not be surprising for a more novice coordinator to be more open to suggestions, but that is also the ship that Mike Tomlin has generally run since he came on board over a decade ago.
Butler “definitely has an open ear”, Mitchell continued, “and I think that’s what makes working with a guy like him and a guy like Coach Tomlin and a guy like Coach Lake, it makes it so great as a player because it’s not always like, ‘hey, let’s do what I say’”.
“There’s a little bit of room for us to do negotiating how we’re going to do this, and it’s just been a beautiful relationship for us”, he concluded. Hopefully the defense produces some beautiful results on the field with the players’ input.