When the Pittsburgh Steelers head over to Ohio to face the Cleveland Browns in the regular season opener on Sunday, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is going to see a lot of familiar faces. Well, of course he’s going to see a lot of familiar faces. But he’ll be seeing them in new places, sharing a unique history.
He will be facing a team employing one of his former offensive coordinators while another calls the game from the booth, Todd Haley now the Browns’ offensive coordinator and Bruce Arians having entered the world of broadcasting after retiring as the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals earlier this year.
“I was going to call Coach Wiz and see if he wanted to come”, Roethlisberger joked while making his usual radio appearance yesterday on The Fan, referring to Ken Whisenhunt. “I thought that would be unique”. Whisenhunt was Roethlisberger’s first offensive coordinator, who went on to become the head coach of the Cardinals. He is currently the offensive coordinator of the Los Angeles Chargers.
The quarterback further commented on having a triumvirate of his most recent offensive coordinators all gathered inside of one stadium. “How cool is that to have BA calling the game, Todd Haley on the other side and Randy on our side?”, he asked.
He was asked if he had watched Hard Knocks this season featuring the Browns and Haley, involving a lot of scenes of him yelling at players. “I haven’t watch Hard Knocks but I’ve heard a lot about it”, he admitted. “It’s not my cup of tea, but I know a lot of people have watched it and told me a lot of things about what’s going on. Not just with Todd, but just in that show in general”.
On Haley, he offered, “what you see is what you get. He’s a very passionate coach and he puts his heart and soul into it. Sometimes that means yelling, sometimes he’s laughing, sometimes it’s just about getting the guys ready to go. So it’s going to be interesting to see him across from us. I hope we get the better of him”.
It has been widely presumed that a big part of the reason the Steelers elected not to renew Haley’s contract after six seasons with the team was because it was believed—perhaps even known—that Roethlisberger’s preference would be to move ahead with Fichtner, his long-time quarterbacks coach, in that role. Arians was also his former quarterbacks coach, and the two continue to play golf together.
It can be reasonably assumed that this situation was in the works. Fichtner admitted earlier this offseason that Haley gave him the opportunity to do some play-calling during the preseason, for example. Now, he and Roethlisberger will be working on calling the offense’s plays while Haley runs a new-look Browns offense that hasn’t, uh, won a game in a while.