Former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley was, I think, unfairly maligned for his performance with the team, when in reality he presided over perhaps the most high-scoring period of the franchise’s history. He had elite talent at his disposal in the likes of Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell, sure, but he generally got the most out of them.
Hired in 2012 after ‘retiring’ Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator, Haley was tasked with reformatting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s style, basically transitioning him from a gun-slinging deep-ball thrower to one who is more willing to take the checkdown and take fewer hits. He accomplished that.
There have long been conflicting stories about just what kind of relationship the two had, but many have come to believe that Roethlisberger’s talks about a possible retirement a few years ago was something of a veiled power play to get the team to move on from Haley and promote Randy Fichtner to offensive coordinator.
Whatever the case, Haley played an important role in Roethlisberger’s career, and he still follows the team. He recently appeared on The Zach Gelb Show to talk about, among other things, his former quarterback, and whether he was surprised by what he is still doing at this age and following a serious injury.
“No, I’m not surprised by anything that Ben does”, he said. “He is right up there with the best ever at the position. You know, he is an older player. When you miss a year and especially when you’re talking about throwing arm and elbow, yes, that’s a big concern. But everything that Kevin Colbert and Coach Tomlin were saying throughout the offseason was he was progressing and doing a lot of things that he normally did, so I’m not ever going to be surprised by something that he does”.
He also talked about his period with the team and how he inherited a transition period on the defense. “When you were losing all the great defensive players, we had to score a lot of points”, he said. “They don’t have to do that now. They can play close to the vest and let that defense do their thing. And they’re really a good, good defense and have a chance to be great”.
“I think they’re playing the right way”, Haley concluded. “They’re not having to take a lot of chances and I think that’s been very good for Ben to knock the rust off and not have to be the hero every single play. But he obviously can still throw it and make plays”.
So far this season, Roethlisberger is on track to throw for over 4000 yards and for 39 touchdowns to just seven interceptions, posting the second-best touchdown percentage and best interception percentage of his career. The Steelers rank fourth in the NFL in scoring at over 30 points per game.