When the Pittsburgh Steelers brought in Todd Haley to be their offensive coordinator six years ago, he was given one specific assignment, and that was to construct the offense in a way that allowed quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to prolong his career. As an established veteran franchise quarterback, he was taking too much of a beating and needed to be better protected, including from himself.
Now that he is with the Cleveland Browns, he is going from about as veteran a quarterback as you can get to now working possibly with a rookie 22-year-old, on the opposite end of the spectrum from what he has become used to in recent years. It is a major task ahead of him, but it does come with certain advantages.
For example, one would expect a rookie, or a young quarterback in general, to be more malleable, and a rookie will obviously not be attached to a prior offensive coordinator the way that Roethlisberger was to Bruce Arians.
Haley’s departure from Pittsburgh is widely believed to have been triggered primarily as a result of the quality of his relationships, particularly that which he had with Roethlisberger, who would freely offer casual criticism after games in a loss, yet would only sing his praises when asked about potential issues between the two.
Haley spoke to reporters yesterday for the first time since he took over the offensive coordinator role for the Browns, and while he avoided directly answering questions about Roethlisberger and the relationship that he had with the 14-year veteran, he did answer questions about what he is looking for in the next quarterback he will work with.
“You’re looking for highly competitive guys with ability to weather the storms that are going to come up as a young quarterback in the league”, Haley said. “You’re looking for physical and mental toughness”. I’m sure many readers here will readily interpret a comment like that as saying that the quarterback will need to be able to handle some hard coaching, as has been ascribed to Haley.
“Obviously you have to have an NFL-type arm. You have to have great feel and awareness, great leadership”, he went on. “And it is a tough position to evaluate. It always has been and there’s evidence of that year in and year out across the league. But like I said, that’s one of the great challenges and I’m excited about that process”.
As you know, the Browns hold the first pick in the 2018 NFL Draft, as well as the fourth, so it’s quite likely that they come out of this class with, at worst, one of the top four quarterbacks, and this may occur even if they acquire a Case Keenum, a Nick Foles, or even a Kirk Cousins, potentially, in free agency.
Of course, Cleveland already has a couple of young quarterbacks on their roster, including last year’s second-round pick, DeShone Kizer, who led the league in turnovers. But, frankly, nobody is expecting him to continue to start. Not with the ammunition Cleveland has to spend.