Mike Prisuta of WDVE played a sound bite from Todd Haley yesterday in which the Steelers OC stated that his wish was to have Ben Roethlisberger calling his own plays on the field. Prisuta also reported that Haley made it clear that the no huddle would be a bigger part of the offense this season. Together, these reports go far to tear down the image of Todd Haley as some kind of egotistical tyrant hell bent on controlling every aspect of his offense. The Scruffy One wasn’t hired by the Rooney family out of charity. They didn’t owe Todd Haley a job just because his father was a top notch NFL scout for the Black and Gold. Haley won the job as Offensive Coordinator by putting up results. It was Haley’s offense that came just shy of beating the Steelers in the Super Bowl as the Cardinals’ OC and, as a head coach; he was able to win the AFC West with the most average of teams, the Chiefs. A lot of things have changed in Arizona since his departure, the lack of offensive power being the most glaring.
Todd Haley is, by all accounts, a very smart fellow and the above statements reported by Prisuta support those claims. If Haley is looking for full buy-in to his offensive schemes from Ben Roethlisberger, he took a huge step forward by handing the playbook over to his star quarterback. Large Ben is way more likely to learn the nuances of Haley’s offense if he will be responsible for calling the signals. Roethlisberger has also been criticized in the past for not being the best student of the game, ala Peyton Manning. A higher level of responsibility and accountability for the quarterback may positively impact his study habits (plus, new born babies love having the playbook read to them). This new facet to Ben’s game also allows for the player and coordinator to accelerate the bonding process and that couldn’t hurt.
I am all for the no huddle as long as everyone is up to speed on the play calling, the audible choices, and the snap count. That may be a tall order if the learning curve is as steep as suggested with Todd Haley’s offense. Nothing will steam both Haley and Tomlin more than a bunch of mental errors like missed routes, pre snap penalties, and wasted time outs. The Huddles Absentia has worked well in small doses in the Steelers’ past but has never been a major offensive concept here. The Steelers, being young and quick, are well suited for the no huddle though.
For the Steelers, winning the AFC North means beating Baltimore at least twice a year. The Ravens (TCSFB) defense is aged and, if you can believe all the press, every defender has reported to camp either disgruntled or morbidly obese. That should make them susceptible to fatigue (and cardiac arrest) if a functioning Steelers no huddle offense can keep them from substituting regularly.
We all know that the terms ‘no huddle’ and ‘hurry up’ are no longer interchangeable in modern professional tackle football. Tomlin, Haley, and Roethlisberger will have to me ever mindful of that late in games and especially if the offense is sitting on a lead. The Home Team got a little younger defensively this off season by cutting ties with some of its grey beards but the Steelers’ offense will have to make sure not to exhaust its own defense along with the opposition.
It’s now Ben Roethlisberger’s time to take the alpha dog leadership role and, with Todd Haley’s guidance, I think he’s up to the challenge.