Tag:Ben Roethlisberger
Posted on: February 12, 2012 12:29 pm
Edited on: February 12, 2012 12:53 pm
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Can Big Ben and Haley co-exist in Pittsburgh?

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 TheSidelineView.com 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.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 3:21 pm
 

Ben's heard 'good and bad things' about Haley

Ben doesn't sound thrilled about Haley coming to Pittsburgh. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

On Friday's Pick-Six Podcast, we talked in-depth about the Steelers hiring Todd Haley as their offensive coordinator. I think it's a great move; Wilson hates it. And he's not the only one, either. Ben Roethlisberger doesn't sound too thrilled.

In an interview with Ed Bouchette of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Roethlisberger said he's heard things, "both good and bad" about Haley from various people around the league.

"I've gotten a lot of calls and texts and emails from people around the league, both good and bad about him," Roethlisberger said. "Everybody has an opinion, as we all know, and they're letting me know what their interaction with him was -- good, bad and indifferent. I've heard a lot of things and I'm looking forward to meeting him and forming my own opinion."


Thus far, Roethlisberger's made no bones about his unhappiness with the Steelers "retiring" Bruce Arians. Typically when you see a new hire like this, the quarterback and/or face of the franchise guy spits standard lines like "I'm really excited about working with him" and "Obviously I'm sad that Bruce is gone, but I think Todd can help us continue to have one of the best offenses in the league."

Or something. Not for Roethlisberger -- he's enthusiastically terrified of change.

"That was my biggest talking point to Mike and those guys -- I would hate to just throw everything out and start over because I feel it would set us back two or three years because these guys are just starting to get it," Roethlisberger said. "I hope we don't have to start over and, if we do, you know what, here we go. Let's do it. We'll do it. We're not going to complain about it. But I would hate to have to set certain guys back who are doing so well right now."

Roethlisberger's concern is warranted, mainly because the Steelers passing game has really evolved into one of the league's best over the past few years. If hiring Haley meant taking a step back, that would obviously be problematic.

But the Rooney family has a decent history of producing good football teams and as much as Ben might be upset about the transition, he's better served to just trust the process and get to know Haley before passing too much judgment.

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Posted on: February 10, 2012 12:23 pm
Edited on: February 11, 2012 9:21 pm
 

Pick-Six Podcast: Haley a good fit in Pittsburgh?

Revisiting the week that was in Indianapolis: Super Bowl XLVI. (Getty Images)

By Will Brinson & Ryan Wilson

Ah, the NFL offseason. When every franchise's hopes spring eternal and stuff. Except the Steelers, who are doomed -- DOOMED, WE SAY! -- with the addition of Todd Haley as offensive coordinator. Actually, we don't say that; Ryan says that.

To calm him down, we brought on Lance Zierlein noted Houston sports savant (The Chronicle, Houston radio), co-owner of TheSidelineView.com and son of former Steelers offensive line coach Larry Zierlein to break down the hire.

Ryan and Will then fight about Haley's addition and debate who's the favorite to land Peyton Manning in 2012. They also hit all the latest NFL news fit to print.

(Did we mention that you should subscribe to the podcast via iTunes? And if you can't listen to the podcast below, download it here. And if you'd like to keep working while listening in your browser, pop that puppy out in a new tab here.)


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Posted on: February 9, 2012 10:04 pm
 

Did PIT ownership take power away from Tomlin?

Who hired Todd Haley as Pittsburgh's offensive coordinator? (US Presswire)
By Josh Katzowitz

How much power does Steelers coach Mike Tomlin really have within the organization? That’s the question the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Ron Cook asks in a column written after Pittsburgh hired Todd Haley as the new offensive coordinator.

It seems that Tomlin wanted to keep former offensive coordinator Bruce Arians but was told by owner Art Rooney II that Arians would not be brought back for 2012 (Arians subsequently retired and then took a job as the Indianapolis offensive coordinator).

As we wrote last month, “The organization was not going to renew Arians’ contract, and in essence, was going to fire him without officially having to fire him. ‘That decision,’ writes reporter Gerry Dulac, ‘appears to have come from team president Art Rooney II, even though coach Mike Tomlin told Arians several times since the playoff loss in Denver that he wanted him to return next season.’ Now, it appears Tomlin was overruled by his boss.”

Was Tomlin overruled again by having to hire the former Chiefs coach to replace Arians?

As Cook writes:
Hey, all speculation is fair until we hear from Tomlin or more from Rooney. I can't say for sure one way or the other who hired Haley. We might never know. But I do know this: If Rooney forced Haley on Tomlin after forcing out Arians after a 12-4 season, Tomlin can't possibly like it.

Nor should he.

It would be enough to make Tomlin at least consider his long-term future with the Steelers, especially now that Rooney II appears to have taken nearly complete control of the franchise from his father, Dan.

Tomlin has done a wonderful job here. He is as successful as just about any coach in the NFL. In five years, he has convinced me he's a better coach than Bill Cowher before him. And Cowher was terrific.
That said, the Steelers have done well by Tomlin as well, so in reality, he can’t complain that much. And besides, the Rooneys are some of the most respected owners in all of sports.

But they haven’t just risked alienating Tomlin. They’ve also risked upsetting their franchise quarterback.

Pittsburgh's offensive upheaval
"I've gotten a lot of calls and texts and emails from people around the league, both good and bad about (Haley),'' Roethlisberger told the Post Gazette. "Everybody has an opinion, as we all know, and they're letting me know what their interaction with him was -- good, bad and indifferent. I've heard a lot of things and I'm looking forward to meeting him and forming my own opinion."

But Roethlisberger also made sure the owners heard his voice after Arians’ contract wasn’t renewed. And he gave a hint of future frustrations.

"That was my biggest talking point to Mike and those guys -- I would hate to just throw everything out and start over because I feel it would set us back two or three years because these guys are just starting to get it,” Roethlisberger said.

"I hope we don't have to start over and if we do, you know what, here we go. Let's do it. We'll do it. We're not going to complain about it. But I would hate to have to set certain guys back who are doing so well right now."

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 6:51 pm
 

Warner thinks Haley will be good for Big Ben

Can Haley make Roethlisberger a better quarterback? (US PRESSWIRE)

By Ryan Wilson

There has been some consternation by Steelers fans -- if not flat out gnashing of teeth -- over the news that Pittsburgh hired Todd Haley as offensive coordinator. Haley, whose dad served in the Steelers' personnel department from 1971-1990, replaces Bruce Arians, who "retired" (read: was fired) last month.

It's not that Haley hasn't had success as an NFL assistant, it's just that his abrasive style doesn't seem to mesh with "The Steelers Way." Put differently: Haley's sideline demeanor is 180 degrees from that of defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. That alone isn't an indictment against the man; he is a football coach, after all. Yelling and screaming is more coming than not. And one of the reasons Arians was let go was because he had become too chummy with franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Why chumminess was a concern when the Steelers had gone to two Super Bowls (winning one) under Arians and regularly had a top-10 offense still remains a mystery. But this is a transient business; coaches get fired all the time. Just ask Haley, who was canned during the 2011 season after less than three years as the Chiefs' head coach, where he went 19-26.

Before Haley's arrival in Kansas City, he was a successful though sometimes combative coordinator in Arizona. One of the league's most mild-mannered players, former quarterback Kurt Warner, can attest to that.

"It doesn't matter where you stand on the totem pole," Warner, who played for Haley with the Cardinals, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

"If he sees something you can do better, he lets you know about it. That was a reason for our success."

In general, that's all well and good. But it's not like Roethlisberger was struggling to find himself on the football field. He entered the "elite quarterback" conversation several years ago and other than debilitating injuries, he remains one of the league's most dangerous players. He did that under Arians. Whether that success continues under Haley remains to be seen.

"I enjoyed playing for him," Warner continued. "I'm a guy who loves to be challenged in a lot of different ways, and that's what Todd is about. He pushed me and wanted me to be great. He pushed the guys around me to be great."

As for all the sideline ranting and raving, Warner doesn't think it will be a problem.

"It's not about the yelling and screaming; I'm OK with that," said Warner, who along with teammates, got into it with Haley.

"He just wants you to do the right thing. Instead of getting offended, maybe you have to look at yourself and say, 'OK, that's a legitimate concern.' That's the way you get good. That's how you stay great. He will be good for Ben, not that Ben needs a lot of help. He's a great quarterback."

Exactly.

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Posted on: February 8, 2012 12:37 pm
Edited on: February 8, 2012 8:19 pm
 

Suh, Vick, Plax highlight most-disliked athletes

Suh's moved past his Thanksgiving mistake, but the public hasn't forgotten yet. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Not breaking news: Michael Vick is an unpopular athlete when it comes to public polling. This has been true since Vick went to jail for dogfighting and it remains true to this day. But it's a bit surprising to see Lions defensive lineman Ndamukong Suh climbing the charts (sliding the chutes?) of the most unpopular athletes in the world.

According to a survey done by Nielson and published by Forbes, Suh checks in as the fourth-least-liked athlete in the world, behind only Vick, Tiger Woods and Plaxico Burress.

Latest NFL News, Notes

It's not entirely shocking that Suh would end up on this list. He's easily recognizable as the second-overall pick in the 2009 NFL Draft and someone who has a pile of endorsements. He also stepped on an opponent on a nationally-televised Thanksgiving Day game against the Packers and drew a two-game suspension.

He's regarded in some corners as "dirty" and in many places as a "bad boy" of the NFL, regardless of whether or not that's accurate. According to Forbes, Suh's lack of popularity is a total 180-degree turn, as he was on the list of most popular athletes just four months ago.

"He went from being so popular to being a pariah in one season," says Stephen Master, VP of Sports for Nielson.

Fortunately for Suh, an incident-free 2012 will go a long way towards cleaning up his image. Guys like Plaxico and Vick, who served actual prison time, as well as Tiger, who suffered through a public infidelity scandal the likes of which we've never seen, have a much higher hill to climb if they want to regain their popularity among the general populace.

Dropping out of the top-10 most-hated list from the NFL this time around? Al Davis (passed away), Jerry Jones (must have become sympathetic with the Cowboys missing the playoffs?), Ben Roethlisberger (was never actually charged?) and Randy Moss (retired).

The lesson as always? Time heals all wounds. Some times it just takes longer for some people.

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Posted on: February 6, 2012 7:21 pm
Edited on: February 7, 2012 2:26 pm
 

Steelers hire Todd Haley as OC

Haley's taking his old boss' old job in Pittsburgh. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Todd Haley's going to have a new gig in 2012 and it's a pretty good one: he's headed to Pittsburgh to take over as offensive coordinator after Bruce Arians recently "retired" to take the Colts job.

“I am excited about the opportunity to come back home and work for a tremendous organization,” Haley said in a statement. “It is an honor to work with the Rooney family and Coach Tomlin and continue the success that has become synonymous with the Steelers. My father has so many fond memories both from his playing days and his time in the personnel department with the team, and I look forward to helping bring more championships to Pittsburgh and to being a part of one of the storied franchises in the NFL.”

When Haley was head coach of the Chiefs, his team never finished with a passing offense ranked any higher than 25th. And Haley topped out at ranking 18th in passing attempts in his first year in KC.

But while he was with the Cardinals, under former Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt, Haley slung the ball around like crazy. Arizona, at the time with Kurt Warner, finished second in passing attempts both seasons and was top 10 in the league in points scored both seasons.

Ben Roethlisberger, Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders provide a much closer approximation to those Warner teams than Matt Cassell and Dwayne Bowe do.

We'd heard word that Haley was interviewing with the Cards, but also that Haley didn't want to take anything less than a coordinator job. Pittsburgh gives him a fantastically soft landing spot after a rough tenure with KC.

It also means that both Roethlisberger (unhappy with Arians departure) and Art Rooney (wanting more points) should be happy. So it's a great fit, as long as there aren't any big ego clashes and the Steelers don't bug Haley's cell phone. Allegedly.

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Posted on: January 27, 2012 11:05 am
Edited on: January 27, 2012 2:44 pm
 

Ben wants meeting with Rooney over Arians release

Roethlisberger and Rooney are going to have a meeting, apparently. (Getty Images)
By Will Brinson

Former Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians left the team under suspicious circumstances: first he was retiring, then he was fired, then he said he "wasn't offered a contract" ... it was all really weird and awkward. And it's not making Ben Roethlisberger happy.

And Roethlisberger, apparently, is going to march right up to Art Rooney II's office and ask him what's going on.

"When I get back, I'm going to go up to Mr. Rooney's office and ask him what he wants from me, what he wants from this offense, because I think that's a viable question for him," Roethlisberger told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review on Thursday in Honolulu. "He's our owner and our boss, so I really would like to know kind of what he wants and where he sees our offense going because I'd like to tell him where I see us going."

Rooney previously cited the points scored by the Steelers in 2011 as an issue with Arians. And the owner has a fair point, as the Steelers only ranked as a top-10 unit once under Arians, which was during his first year in 2007 when they were ninth in the NFL in scoring.

However, Football Outsiders ranks the Steelers as a top-10 unit in DVOA every year of Arians tenure but one. And there's little question that under Arians, the Steelers moved from a traditional ground-and-pound stereotype that people attach to Pittsburgh to a full-on aerial assault.

"We feel like we are really close to being an elite offense," Roethlisberger told the Tribune-Review. "For your leader to be gone is kind of a shocker, but you've got to be ready for whatever the Rooneys and coach [Mike] Tomlin decide it our next step."

Roethlisberger has consistently defended Arians over the past, and the T-R notes that he was taking him to Hawaii as one of his guests for the Pro Bowl until things got murky with his contract situation.

Ben's job is certainly safer. But he's not exactly doing himself any favors with the way he's phrasing his "request" for a meeting with Rooney.

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