Todd Haley doing nice job of keeping Ben Roethlisberger upright


It’s only been six games into Todd Haley’s stint as the Steelers offensive coordinator and there have been some up-and-down reviews to date.

There have been some things to like and a lot not to like, but one thing that can’t be debated has been the performance of quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

September 16, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley (left) talks with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) on the sidelines against the New York Jets during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 27-10. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE

While Big Ben may have some issues with Haley’s game plan, especially when it comes to not getting the ball down the field, it’s hard to argue with the success Roethlisberger has had so far. He is the NFL’s fifth rated passer (98.6) and has completed 66 percent of his passes for 1,765 yards, 11 touchdowns and only three interceptions.

The other thing that’s not likely debatable is that this Steelers team is probably 0-6 or 1-5 without Roethlisberger.

But while Big Ben has been outstanding, some of the credit has to go to Haley, at least for one reason: he’s keeping Roethlisberger on his feet.

Roethlisberger was sacked 215 times from 2007-11, but so far in 2012 has been dropped only 13 times, five less than he was at this time last season. Just to compare, Big Ben has been sacked half as many time as Aaron Rodgers has this season.

In addition to the sacks, Roethlisberger is taking less hits, enabling him to stay fresher late in games and on a week-to-week basis.

The “dink-and-dunk” approach could be criticized, as the big play has been mostly eliminated from the Steelers offense, but Roethlisberger has thrown for more yards at this point in the season only once in his career.

Some of that is because they aren’t taking shots down the field, all but turning a guy like Mike Wallace into a possession-type receiver, but some of that is due to Haley relying on the quick pass. Roethlisberger isn’t being hit, but he’s also hasn’t been given many of opportunities to do what he does best: keep plays alive and strike for big-gainers.

At the end of the day, Haley will be judged by wins and right now the results are only average. But if the Steelers are going to make a long playoff run this season, the only way they will have a chance to do so is with a healthy Roethlisberger.

Judging by that criteria alone, Haley is doing wonders.

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