Pittsburgh Steelers Bye Week: Coordinator’s Performance
Normally on Saturday’s there is a post about the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive and defensive coordinators thoughts and feeling about his players and the upcoming game. Well this week, thanks to the bye, there are no interviews from Todd Haley or Dick LeBeau to discuss. Therefore let’s take a look at how the coordinators are actually doing this season. It has been a crazy season for the Steelers thus far and based off of Twitter it seems like Steelers fans, including myself, flip-flop regularly between wanting everyone fired or having a little more patience when the team starts to play well all of a sudden. I’m not going to discuss Mike Tomlin in this article, that’s a topic for another day.
Mr. Haley is now in his third year as the offensive coordinator. It has seemed liked ever since he was introduced as the replacement for Bruce Arians everybody has been saying, “Fire Haley.” Maybe that is his fault, or Ben Roethlisberger‘s fault, or maybe it is just the media attempting to make a story. Either way after ranking 21st and 20th in total yards during his first two seasons the Steelers currently rank first in the NFL in yards (3rd in passing, 6th in rushing). The Steelers also rank 6th in points per game at 26.2. With those being the positives number, on the negative side the Steelers rank 26th in red zone touchdown percentage at 50%. On the road this season they only score a TD in the red zone 30% of the time.
For the Steelers success it’s hard to determine who to give the credit to. Haley has been given plenty of weapons to utilize, from Big Ben to Antonio Brown to Le’Veon Bell to Martavis Bryant and with an improved offensive line thanks to the coaching of Mike Munchak the Steelers rightfully have a top ten offense. If they didn’t the clear problem would be Haley. The main issue people have with Haley is his play calling, which is somewhat shared with Ben but the coach normally takes the blame. 50% in the red zone is just not good enough. I’m already thinking about the Antonio Brown touchdown pass to Lance Moore in the Houston Texans game. While the play ended out working it was an interesting call to make on first and goal from the 3-yard line. At least once or twice a game it seems like you shake or head and say what kind of call was that? Last week against the Texans, the Steelers started the game with six straight runs. That’s fine, it worked for two first downs on the drive but then on 3rd and 6 when the Titans seemed to figure out all they are doing is running, Bell got tackled for a two yard gain and the Steelers had to punt.
Personally I think that Haley is doing a decent job at the moment. Am I in love with his play calling at all times? Certainly not, but at 7-4 with a defense that ranks 26th in yards allowed, 18th in points per game, 20th in sacks, and 19th in takeaways the offense deserves plenty of credit for carrying this team over the first 11 games. Does all that credit belong to Haley? Probably not. However the stats at least show that he has gotten the offense to perform better, at least before the red zone attempt happens.
I’ll be the first to admit that I have always loved Dick LeBeau and I think he has earned the right to decide when he wants to retire and if he wants to continue coaching then the Steelers should let him. I’m also 24 and thanks to his defense seen the Steelers win two Super Bowls so my judgement has been swayed a little bit. However with all that being said, it has not been a great year for the Steelers defense. Like I mentioned at the end of Todd Haley’s section, the Steelers defense ranks 26th in yards allowed, 18th in points per game, 20th in sacks, and 19th in takeaways, 16th in rushing yards allowed and 28th in passing yards. From 2004-2012 under LeBeau the Steelers defense finished in the top 10 for total defense every year. Only one year did they finish outside of the top five. In 2013 the defense ranked 13th and this year they sit at 14th. It is pretty clear that the Steelers don’t have the same talent they did in earlier LeBeau years when they were winning Super Bowls and going to the playoffs but does that excuse warrant this type of drop off?
I’ll also say that injuries to LeBeau’s defense this year have really hurt. Troy Polamalu, Steve McLendon, Ike Taylor, Ryan Shazier, and Jarvis Jones all of whom where the starters at the beginning of the season have all missed multiple games due to injury. Listening to LeBeau over the past eleven weeks saying that injuries are part of the game and NFL teams need to rely on everybody on the roster to step up and make plays is true but at what point do all of those injuries hurt your team’s performance?
For Haley I said he has done a decent job. I’m not sure what to say about LeBeau. I don’t want to give him a pass because of the injuries but I also don’t want to crucify him because the defense isn’t as great as it used to be. I will say this though, that Tampa Bay Bucs game has the potential to be the reason the Steelers miss the playoffs for the Steelers and the defense was a huge reason for that loss. They allowed Mike Glennon to look like Tom Brady in the fourth quarter of that game mostly because LeBeau was unable to produce any type of rush on the quarterback (1 sack that game), while also giving the Bucs wide receivers a ten yard cushion on every play. Mike Glennon should not be throwing for 302 yards on any team, unless they are getting crushed and it’s garbage time like he did against the Ravens. And now I’m mad. I don’t want to say fire LeBeau but the defense needs to be better over the final five games especially because the injured players are supposed to return.
What do you think Steelers Nation? Are you happy with the coordinator’s or do you want to see somebody else get the job?