Blog Entry

Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:29 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 12:53 pm
Haley may not have been Roethlisberger's (or Tomlin's) first choice, but none of that matters now. (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

The Steelers have had a run on un-Steelers-like offseasons recently. From Ben Roethlisberger's legal entanglements to Hines Ward's DUI to to Rashard Mendenhall's tweets on foreign policy to James Harrison's guns-ablazin' interview in Mens Journal, it's always something.

Even though this offseason isn't yet a week old, the Steelers are in the news again, this time for forcing offensive coordinator into "retirement" (eight days later, Arians joined the Colts in the same capacity) and hiring Todd Haley as his replacement.

We spoke to Lance Zierlein of about this new dynamic (Lance has special insights into the Steelers -- his dad was Mike Tomlin's offensive line coach in Pittsburgh from 2007-2009) and it basically came down to this: Roethlisberger's been given too much leeway by the organization, there are some things he needs to do to improve, and Haley could be the guy to do it.

Zierlein admitted that Haley's abrasive style will take some getting used to, and the hire is weird in the sense that Haley's only link to Pittsburgh is through his father, Dick, a longtime personnel guy with the Steelers. He has no connection to Tomlin or his coaching tree, and based on Tomlin's comments shortly after the season (he said he expected all his assistants back in 2012), Haley wasn't even on his radar until Arians was pushed out.

In Sunday's Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Joe Starkey writes that Haley's addition is aimed at one thing: corralling Roethlisberger, who pretty much has had the run of the place since he arrived in 2004.

"How does Roethlisberger respond to getting slapped around a little?" Starkey asks. "The organization that granted him nearly unlimited power to play as he saw fit -- heck, to play when he saw fit after his ankle injury -- is trying to reclaim a portion of said power. And there is no delicate way to do that.

"So get your popcorn ready. It's either going to work to spectacular results or blow up in their faces. Applaud the high-risk, high-reward philosophy that has often served the Steelers well. Question their methods. Enjoy the cabaret."

This seems to be the widespread perception -- that Roethlisberger won't handle tough coaching well. But as Zierlein pointed out Friday, While Haley's style isn't buddy-buddy (he's had run-ins with players everywhere he's coached, from divas like Terrell Owens in Dallas to team leaders like Kurt Warner and Matt Cassel in Arizona and Kansas City), he's had a lot of success as completely different kinds of offenses, from the Cards' aerial assault to the Chiefs' run-heavy game plans.

And Haley's in-your-face style isn't all bad. In fact, Arizona wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald is a huge Haley fan.

"I think Todd is a great coach," Fitzgerald said late in 2010 when Haley was leading the Chiefs to the AFC West title. He's fun to play for. "Everybody says he's a hard ass and this … but at the end of the day when Todd came in the locker room he'd give you the biggest hug. He wanted it so bad for us. He prepared so much and he pushed us. I remember after the NFC championship (victory over the Eagles in January 2009) he was in tears. Those moments are what I'll remember."

So maybe Haley isn't Roethlisberger's first choice or Tomlin's "guy," but he'll have plenty of weapons to work with. The Steelers' wide receivers are some of the best in the league, tight end Heath Miller is as good a blocker as a pass catcher, and Big Ben is a top-5 talent. There are worse situations to step into and be expected to succeed.

Ultimately, none of this matters. It'll come down to whether the Steelers' offense in 2012 is better than it was under Arians. That means scoring more points, being more proficient in the red zone, and having a more consistent running game. Do that, and people will gladly overlook how Haley comports himself on the sidelines. Fail and will be looking for work.

For more NFL news, rumors and analysis, follow @EyeOnNFL on Twitter, subscribe to our NFL newsletter, and while you're at it, add our RSS Feed

Since: Jan 9, 2012
Posted on: February 13, 2012 6:43 pm

Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

The NFL has no idea what its in for next year...the Steeler O will be UNSTOPABLE. We saw glimpses of bruising speedy backs (I'm not talking Redmen) that can take it to the house from midfield who remind me of DeAngelo Williams and Jonathan Stewart, add to that 3 speed deep threat You can't load the box with 8 and you can't double cover all 3 WRs not to mention Heath. Pick up a few high level OL draft pics...tell me how you stop that? This is the perfect setup for an offense that hasn't been seen since the Greatest Show on Turf. As far as you Raven fans, how are you able to say anything? How many AFC championships do you need to lose and choke in before you get it? You can't win whether we're in it or not...your in danger of losing as many AFC championships as we have Rings but don't worry, we won't let you catch up starttin next year when we win out 7th    GO STEELERS!

Since: Apr 15, 2008
Posted on: February 13, 2012 4:40 pm

Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

I hope so but it's discouraging to hear Ben and Haley have both been in the same building the last few days at the same time for hours at a time, and still havent met each other. Heard this on Pompeani's Nightly Sports Call last night

Since: Feb 13, 2012
Posted on: February 13, 2012 7:28 am
This comment has been removed.

Post Deleted by Administrator

Since: Aug 30, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 9:21 pm

Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

Can we let next season start before asking asinine questions like this?

Since: Aug 17, 2011
Posted on: February 12, 2012 6:41 pm

Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

Rapistberger's foot will heal up if he doesnt kick in any more bathroom stalls.

Since: Aug 20, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:44 pm

Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

Easy Bungle & Brown fans, you can`t talk about poor assistant coaches until you fix your own messes.  Who did Marvin Lewis & your Bungles beat last year? Oh right, several teams with losing records then getting dismissed by TJ Yeates & Co in wild card weekend. Sure Todd Hlaey is a jerk, but maybe the friction will make the Steelers play better. No matterw ho the coach is they need to fix that O-line & get a couple more options for Big Ben. Offensive coordinators don`t decide the AFC North, unless it`s ultra conservative Cameron Cameron being forced to have Flacco throw it to someone besides Ray Rice.  Don`t worry about the Steelers, they`ll contend even with Hlaey for a year. 

Since: Sep 3, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 3:17 pm

Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

bmoreduffy, are you serious? I know that the teams are rivals, but that's no need to talk nonsense about the Steelers. "A continuation of mediocracy"? The Steelers have been anything but mediocre the past 10 years. 3 SB appearances, with 2 wins in the last 7. I see why you're a Ravens fan. Keep thinking that we are in the decline. They take most head to head matchups across the board when you line them up position by position. Your team got so hyped at finally beating the Steelers twice this past season that they thought they had already won the Big Game. It was your big game, because the Steelers owned you wannabe's for years. What did you do when you had a chance to make it to the AFC Title game? CHOKED!!!! I can't wait for the season to begin. Enjoy those 2 wins you habitual bridesmaids. Soon Ray Ray, and Ed will be gone and you'll still be stuck with that bum Flacco under center. Seems to me like you should be worried about your own teams future. It bleaker than you care to admit. I will definitely be looking for you once the season begins. We will see who's team is diminishing... 

Go Steelers!!!

Since: Aug 21, 2006
Posted on: February 12, 2012 2:58 pm

Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

Haley's a good OC, it will work out great. I enjoy all the predictions of the Steelers demise, I'm sure most of you were the ones saying the same thing before the 2010 season, when people were predicting the Steelers to finish third or even fourth in the division, they went all the way to the Super Bowl that season. Fact is the have clearly been the best org. in the league since 2004 and they have been the best team in the SB era, till that goes away, you can all suck it!

Since: Mar 29, 2007
Posted on: February 12, 2012 2:13 pm

Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

Being the bengals fan that I am, I look at Haley as perfect for the steelers! Now that we (the bengals) have a playoff team, please let all the head coaching failures take jobs in the afc north!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Since: Mar 5, 2009
Posted on: February 12, 2012 1:46 pm

Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

a continuation of mediocacy,at best, for the steelers.   it looks like a long couple years ahead for this diminishing team starting with upper management down to the assistants.  too bad theyll suck so bad. bottom of the division standings for a while.  what an awful pick up.

The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or