Watching the Cleveland Browns should be more fun this season, and offseason, than it has been in a while, especially for Pittsburgh Steelers fans, who now get to watch their former offensive coordinator, Todd Haley, take ownership of their league-worst offense. Under Haley, the Steelers put up some of their highest-scoring seasons in franchise history, whereas the Browns really have nowhere to go but up.
When he first came to Pittsburgh, however, it wasn’t necessarily a seamless transition. There was some evident friction between him and certain players based on public comments, particularly quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who did not appear to be thrilled about shifting to an offense using new terminology after nearly a decade in another system.
Roethlisberger took a number of shots at the ‘Rosetta Stone’ offense, as he called it, over the course of his first couple of seasons, and even seemed to go out of his way at one point to note that during certain no-huddle situations he would resort to using audibles that they ran under Bruce Arians, the prior offensive coordinator, with whom the quarterback was quite close.
Now it’s the Browns’ turn to adapt to the Rosetta Stone offense, as Haley confirmed during his introductory press conference last week. “I have a language and terminology I have used for a long time that I think works”, he told reporters when asked about what changes he will bring to the offense.
“The really big change will be that”, he reiterated. “Really just terminology”. For a veteran offense as the Steelers had at that time—at least for players like Roethlisberger, Heath Miller, Mike Wallace, Willie Colon, and a couple of others—the adaptation to a new terminology was nothing minor.
Cleveland’s young players will now be doing the same thing, though the fortunate aspect of the change coming now is that it is overwhelmingly likely the team’s opening-day starter at quarterback will not currently be on the roster, so any offense that he learns coming here will be new to him anyway.
Replenishing the skill positions in general is also high on the team’s agenda, and many a projecting them to take running back Saquon Barkley in the first round, but they are also likely to add a wide receiver or two to Josh Gordon—who is a volatile property—and Corey Coleman, who has not exactly panned out yet.
The thought suddenly occurs to me, might this affect Joe Thomas’ thoughts about continuing his playing career? As he recovers from the first significant injury since he’s been in the league, the future Hall of Fame left tackle has gone back and forth about returning.
Thomas has spoken out about his desire for the Browns to acquire Kirk Cousins, who most expect to now hit free agency, bracing to sign the single largest contract in NFL history. It’s not often (that is, basically never) that a franchise quarterback under the age of 30 hits the open market.