As the Steelers wrap up their final OTAs, new OC Todd Haley and the rest of the offensive coaching staff spoke to the media this week about how the team is adjusting to the new playbook. Much has been blown out of proportion reported on the difficulty of the new offense and the willingness of the team, specifically the quarterback, to learn it. Haley states that he has not witnessed any resistance himself from Roethlisberger or any other member of the offense during these OTAs. It’s always hard to truly judge how well a player is going to be when they are running around the field in shorts and not taking or making contact with pads on, but Haley stated he has seen encouraging signs from new and veteran players. Haley even seems to think the running back corps will be impressive, in spite of the fact that the team will be without the services of Mendenhall while he recovers from ACL surgery. We are still a ways away from seeing this offense in action, but at least at this point, Haley is saying all the right things Steeler Nation wants to hear.
The focus of this new offense seems to be in protecting Ben and providing more opportunities for running backs. The integration of a for realzies full back and more tight end involvement is something yinzers salivate at the thought of. The hiring of Haley has been met with tons of scrutiny, speculation, and criticism especially when it comes to how he will work with our favorite crooked-nosed quarterback. Haley downplayed any rumors that Ben is having a hard time grasping the offense or is resisting at all. He stated in regards to Ben:
"“He’s been in here, he’s been working hard, and he’s into it. Even on the days he hasn’t practiced, I mean he’s over my shoulder talking, commenting, discussing.”"
Haley’s known for, aside from blowing up on the sidelines in a fit of rage, getting the most out of his players in his offense. Under Haley in Arizona, Kurt Warner and Larry Fitzgerald had one of their most statistically impressive seasons, reaching the Super Bowl only to be defeated by Ben and the Steelers in Tampa. If he works his magic on the Steelers offense, specifically in redzone situations where BA left something to be desired, the possibilities are very exciting.
Haley is also stoked for his crew of running backs this season. Although the Steelers will be without their No. 1 back in Mendenhall, the Steelers will go with a corps of running backs which could include Redman, Dwyer, Clay, Batch and rookie Chris Rainey. Haley seems pleased so far with what he’s seen from these guys (bear in mind all these guys look good in shorts) even to go as far as calling them ideal for an offensive coordinator. Haley went on to say:
"“We have a good, diverse group. You kind of have all the parts you like as a coordinator. You have big backs who can run it hard up the middle. You have some quicker, faster backs who can play outside for you. I’m excited about the group in general.”"
The Steelers will have a minicamp next week before breaking for the summer until training camp opens on July 25th. There is plenty of time for all parts of this offense to read, review, and recite the finer points of the new playbook from now until then. It will be a tough month and a half for Steeler Nation to wait in anticipation of getting a look at how this offense will run and if Haley is just telling us what we want to hear. It will be even longer to see if Haley is going to explode on the sidelines or if he has gone through the Tomlin school of being the coolest mo’fo on the sidelines. I know I’m excited about this offense, from the new young O-line, to the revamped playbook, to the running backs, and the possibility that in Week 14 Ben could be healthy instead of being held together with popsicle sticks and athletic tape.
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