Going into the 2015 season, the Pittsburgh Steelers’ offense is being heralded as one of the best units in the NFL. With the success that comes with athletes performing well on the field comes success from coaches on the sidelines that are the constructs of offensive schemes such as the ones the Steelers’ have implemented for the past three seasons.
According to ESPN.com Senior NFL Writer Jeremy Fowler, Steelers’ offensive coordinator Todd Haley could once again be in consideration for a head coaching position if his offense continues to show the success that it did in the 2014 season. While the Steelers are enjoying an offensive renaissance after years of relying heavily on their defense, there was much ire for the man who was hired to run Pittsburgh’s offense in 2012.
To the surprise of many, Haley’s predecessor, Bruce Arians, was unceremoniously ejected from his position on the Steelers’ staff in favor of the Kansas City Chiefs’ former head coach who had been known for violent outbursts and a less than desirable 19-26 record in the three years that he had been there.
He touted the claim that he wanted to help preserve the health of franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, whose body had taken a rigorous beating after nearly a decade in the league. Using screen passes as the basis for his offense, results were hard to come by in the beginning, but would slowly start to produce as key figures were implemented over the next few seasons.
With the ascendance of Antonio Brown and departure of Mike Wallace, the drafting of Le’Veon Bell and release of Rashard Mendenhall, and the addition of two quality receivers in Markus Wheaton and Martavis Bryant, the Steelers made all the right moves to give Haley what he needed to orchestrate a top-tier offense in the NFL.
Talk is plenty that the Steelers have a very good chance of representing the AFC in Super Bowl 50. Should the Steelers reach the Super Bowl in 2015, and especially if they win, Haley could very well be up for consideration by many teams without a head coach before the start of the 2016 season.
If he is smart he will stay with the team where he has helped build such a dangerous and well performing offense.
Let’s face it, Todd Haley is more suited for a coordinator position than he is one of a head coach. There is no shame in admitting such a fact, as it has been proven throughout the history of the NFL that some coaches cannot transition well from one position to another. The Steelers have been fortunate in the past 46 years to have successful coaches, but there are plenty of teams in the league that signed former coordinators with high aspirations in their new job, but fail miserably.
Haley is a prime example, himself. After coordinating the Arizona Cardinals offense for the 2008 season that helped get them to Super Bowl 43, where they ironically lost to the Steelers, he accepted a head coaching position from the Chiefs that would end disastrously for him. While not all circumstances where under his control, it could be seen it was not the right fit for him after his previous success in Arizona.
While moving to another team grants him the ability to potentially form an offense such as the Steelers’, it is never guaranteed that he will always have one key figurehead on his roster: a quarterback. Haley knows the importance of having a star player under center. He started his head coaching career with Matt Cassel as his starting quarterback. The less than stellar signal caller never lived up to the expectations placed upon his after being acquired from the New England Patriots in 2009.
Oct 20, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley reacts after defeating the Baltimore Ravens at Heinz Field. The Steelers won 19-16. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports
Other former Steelers’ offensive coordinators have went on to quarterback issues of their own. While Ken Whisenhunt had one good season with Kurt Warner under center, he struggled for years to find a quarterback in Arizona. Bruce Arians also deals with that burden with a constantly injured Carson Palmer. Whisenhunt was fortunate enough to land a job with the Tennessee Titans the year they held the second overall pick to select Marcus Mariota, but it is never clear how rookies will pan out.
Lastly, Haley has become a vital figure in the success of Ben Roethlisberger. He has been fortunate enough to have only three offensive coordinators in his twelve years in the league. There are teams that switch out coordinators annually, making a burden for an offense as a whole. If winning a championship is important to him, staying with the Steelers is most likely his best chance at doing so.
The Steelers have extended the contracts of head coach Mike Tomlin and general manager Kevin Colbert this year. Haley, who is contracted through the 2016 season, is deserving of a contract extension and will more than likely have one offered to him if his performs well this coming season.
While it may not have seemed like it at first, Todd Haley has been a great addition to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ coaching staff, and a reason for their success on offense in the past few years. With all the pieces in place, he has a great opportunity to help guide the Steelers to a historic seventh Lombardi trophy, and possibly even more into the future.