Pittsburgh Steelers' Handling of Todd Haley Will Speak Volumes

By Jeff Hartman
Pittsburgh Steelers
Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

It’s hard to remember a coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers that has been as polarizing as Todd Haley. There have been off the field issues, well documented quarrels with players and of course the ongoing media reports of the Ben Roethlisberger and Haley feud that seemingly won’t die.

However, this was all as advertised when the Steelers let Bruce Arians walk and brought in Haley to run the offense. Steelers owner Art Rooney II wanted to keep Ben Roethlisberger healthy and felt that Haley’s short passing, west coast offense was the best remedy for their situation. To say that these past two seasons with Haley at the helm of the offense have been rocky is putting it mildly.

Players have spoken up and have voiced displeasure with Haley’s play-calling, and just as recently as this past Sunday when the Steelers lost to the Miami Dolphins, Ben Roethlisberger was asked why the team didn’t stay with running the ball, something that had been successful in the first half of the football game. Ben’s response: “You’ll have to ask coach Haley about that.” That’s a pretty direct way of throwing your coach under the bus in terms of media and fan scrutiny.

This team and organization needs to mix things up. That has been well documented, but the way the Steelers handle Haley after the season will speak volumes to the fan base about the direction in which this team is headed.

Believe it or not, it will be easy to defend Haley if Rooney decides to keep the coordinator. Although the Steelers are one of the worst rushing football teams in the NFL (31st in the league averaging 77 yards per game), their passing attack ranks amongst the top (7th in the league averaging 266 yards per game). On top of the impressive passing statistics, the Steelers are finally starting to put some points on the board. In their last six games, the Steelers have scored at least 20 points. The statistics point to Haley’s offense working and not needing to be changed.

With that said, if the Steelers choose to keep Haley with an obvious disconnect between coach and player, what does that say to the players and the fan base? Even with the turmoil and a patchwork offensive line, Ben Roethlisberger is having a tremendous season. He only needs 275 yards to throw for 4,000 yards and has tossed 24 touchdowns with three games still remaining on the schedule. Still, a few questions remain:

When the team’s offense looks the best in the no huddle with Ben Roethlisberger calling the plays, what does that say about Haley as a coordinator?

What does it say when Roethlisberger has told Haley to stop talking to him so much over the radio when in the no huddle so he can focus?

When the franchise quarterback throws the coordinator under the bus what is that telling you about Roethlisberger’s feelings about next season?

What it should mean is that the Steelers will be making a change at offensive coordinator at season’s end. Haley’s system simply isn’t getting the job done, and it would be a crystal clear message to coaches and players alike that things need to change.

Change is necessary to evolution, and Haley’s departure should be the first change to be made once this horrid season as come to its conclusion.

Jeff Hartman covers the Pittsburgh Steelers for RantSports.com and also contributes for the Penguins and Pirates.  Follow him on  Twitter @BnGBlitz and add him on Google+

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