Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley has been the whipping boy for most fans over the past two seasons, and while it looked for a while like Haley wouldn’t return for a third season, I will make the case that he has earned the opportunity to come back.
Sure there is a good possibility that the Steelers will miss out of the postseason in both of Haley’s seasons, but the numbers suggest that the offense is operating quite fine under Haley’s tutelage.
You need to look no further than franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for proof.
Sure Big Ben’s season started in horrific fashion and there have been the usual reports of discontent between Roethlisberger and Haley, but look through all of that and Roethlisberger is putting together possibly one of his best statistical seasons of his 10-year NFL career.
Despite only seven wins at this point of the season, Roethlisberger has been busy re-writing the Steelers record books.
Roethlisberger already has set the team record for most completions in a season and with at least 247 yards passing Sunday afternoon against the Cleveland Browns, he will set a team record for most passing yards in a season. Big Ben has thrown for 4,082 yards in 15 games and is looking to break the record he set in 2009 when he threw for 4,328.
He also has an outside chance to break the team record for most touchdowns passes in a season. He has 27, third-most he has thrown in a season. He set the record with 32 in 2007.
Those numbers would suggest that things are just fine with Haley at the helm of the Steelers offense.
So would the season that Antonio Brown has put up.
Brown has 1,412 receiving yards, breaking the single-season yardage mark held by Yancey Thigpen last week, and needs 12 receptions against the Browns to break the record for most in a season held by Hines Ward with 112.
He is doing just fine with Haley calling plays, and so is rookie running back Le’Veon Bell.
Bell, just named the Steelers’ top first-year player by local media members, has a chance to set the team record for most yards from scrimmage by a rookie. Things started slowly for the Steelers this year, but once Haley was willing to turn more control over to Roethlisberger, this offense took off.
Once they started using the no-huddle more frequently, the Steelers have averaged almost 30 points per game over the past eight games, and Roethlisberger and his teammates are posting some big numbers in the process.
Because of the willingness to use the no-huddle, the sack numbers have gone down as well. Roethlisberger has been sacked just 10 times in the past seven games after getting dropped 31 times in the first eight.
Add all of that up and the problem isn’t Haley.
The Steelers offense is just fine and with a couple tweaks in the offseason, most notably another playmaker and additions to the offensive line, they could do even bigger things under Haley in 2014.
The reasons the Steelers could miss the playoffs again this season have been mostly on the other side of the ball. This offense has been plenty good enough to get the Steelers into the playoffs and Haley should be rewarded by being retained in 2014.
Things are working and there is no point on starting over. If it’s not broken you don’t fix it.
While it will irritate a lot of Steelers fans, that means keeping Haley.