Nov 17, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (right) talks with offensive coordinator Todd Haley (left) on the sidelines against the Detroit Lions during the first quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 37-27. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive Showdown: Pittsburgh Steelers Have Hands Full with Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley

It was no secret that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley weren’t getting along during Haley’s first season.  That suspicion has never gone away,  though it’s been continuously disregarded by the Steelers PR, coaches, and even Roethlisberger himself at times.  Despite what the team brass tells Big Ben to say in front of a microphone when asked directly if he gets along with Haley, the evidence is stacked in favor of these two getting along as well oil and water.  After Sunday’s loss to the Miami Dolphins, the Steelers new all-time TD pass leader added more fuel to the fire that he and OC don’t see eye to eye.  This thing is coming to a head, and the Steelers will have to deal with it as soon as the 2013 season ends.

Haley’s game plan and situational awareness came under fire once again, and when asked about what Roethlisberger thought about some of the play calling after the first scoring drive, Roethlisberger had this to say,

Their scheme, I don’t know, there was no particular reason[.... ] No idea. Coach Haley’s over there. You can ask him.

Ben has been sending up little flares like this for the last two seasons.  Just when you think everything is all hunky-dory between these two because the team is winning, the offense does some pretty… well let’s face it… some pretty stupid things during a game followed by these kinds of comments from the leader of this football team (Ben not Tomlin).  I think it’s pretty clear that these two really don’t get along and are not on the same page about this offense.  How they’ve gotten this far is a testament to how much Ben loves the Steelers and is willing to work with an offensive coordinator that appears to be lucky he knows how to dress himself every day.

Or does Ben really want to stay for the rest of his career?  He’s stated as much, and there’s no reason not to believe him even though there is a sect of Steeler Nation that seem to take pride in raking this guy through the coals week in and week out no matter what he does.  Would there ever be anything or anyone that would compel him to want to leave the ‘Burgh?  Perhaps an inept and stubborn offensive coordinator?  Perhaps one that is coaching the offense so poorly that the Steelers will be lucky to see the playoffs during the rest of Ben’s contract?

Dec 8, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (7) passes the ball against the Miami Dolphins during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Miami Dolphins won 34-28. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Now I’m not going to go all Ian Rapoport on all of you, but I honestly believe that the Steelers and Art II are going to have Ben Roethlisberger in their office with a pretty ornery Roethlisberger telling Art, “It’s either him or me.”  You can be pretty darn sure that it won’t be Haley stepping into Art’s office saying that.  What has Haley done to give him the backing to give the team owner an ultimatum?  But Ben.  Ben has two Superbowl wins, a 10-4 playoff record, and more comeback wins than you can shake a Terrible Towel at.  That’s a lot of clout.  So is his $100 million dollar contract that says he’s worth every penny and every snipe at his offensive coordinator.

Yes indeedy.  Not many may anticipate something like this happening, but I’m fully confident that we’ll be hearing news from Steelers central sometime in February that will more than likely be the firing of Todd Haley.  And, it will come from Ben walking into Rooney’s office and giving his own ultimatum.  It won’t be because he wants to leave Pittsburgh.  But, if he wants to have any shot at a career that sees more than three Super Bowl appearances, he knows well enough that Toddy Haley is not the answer.


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  • Siggy

    You took that Ben quote completely out of context. It was it a two part quote and not anti-Haley at all.

    WATCH what Ben says, don’t read it. Thanks.

    • Craig

      I guess the PPG and other outlets took it out of context too – because that’s where it’s sourced. The ellipses usually signify a break in thought or progression. That’s why they are there. At any rate he is answering questions about play calling. He’s displeased. If it wasn’t anti-Haley, then why doesn’t he defend the play calling. Thanks.

      • Mike Wing

        Ben Roethlisberger’s relationship with offensive coordinator Todd
        Haley is up and down at best, and the two often appear to disagree about
        what should be happening on offense.

        The Steelers’ offensive line is, well, terrible. Roethlisberger has
        absorbed 39 sacks this season. Only Joe Flacco (41) and Ryan Tannehill
        (48) have been sacked more often than the Steelers’ trigger man. That’s a
        big problem, especially because Roethlisberger often holds the ball,
        trying to make big plays. Sure, he runs himself into some sacks, but the
        Steelers do a poor job giving him an opportunity to make those big
        plays that have defined his career.

        So, with an offseason of uncertainty looming, what do the Steelers need to do?

        Quite obviously, Pittsburgh needs to commit to an offensive ideology.
        Running Haley’s offense with Roethlisberger taking the snaps just isn’t
        working. From all outward appearances, it would make sense for the
        Steelers to back Roethlisberger and find a coordinator that better fits

  • myrique21

    Ben has only been sacked 4 times in 4 games, with a patchwork offensive line. No ints in 4 games. 100% in the red zone in the last 4 games. Also, 100+ passer rating. So, Todd Haley is the problem? How about poor execution at times. Drop passes, and bad penalties by the line. Or do I dear say the defense is just not there this year. After bad losses, there will be frustration. That’s all it was! We are a team in transition. It is difficult to win when you have so many changing parts.

    • Craig

      Not sure you hear yourself on this. Yes Ben’s stats are great – so yes, Toddy Haley is the problem. Not Ben. Go ahead and look back throughout this dismal season. Unprepared, poor play calling, poor situational awareness. All on Haley. He is getting in the way of this offense being very good. He’s right when he says the offense is on the cusp of being good. They’ll be good when he leaves.

      • Mike Wing

        It’s evident that the Steelers have struggles on offense, but that’s
        not the only place their roster needs big upgrades. Defensively, the
        Steelers just aren’t playing at the level they once did, and a big
        reason for that is simply age. Pittsburgh has been starting the same
        four defensive backs for years, and although each of their names (Ike
        Taylor, William Gay, Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu) carries significance in
        the NFL, they’re not able to make the same game-changing plays that once
        characterized the Steelers’ defense.

        Without turnovers, the Steelers don’t stand a chance. The symptoms we
        see week in and week out are such things as team disunity, disagreement
        and shoddy play. The cause of those symptoms is roster decay. In short,
        the Steelers aren’t the team they once were. Their talent has eroded
        quicker than new talent has arrived.

        For years, the Steelers have been able to re-tool their roster, but
        with a losing season likely, the Steelers may have to think more about a
        rebuild. Designations such as “rebuilding” don’t give us much
        perspective, and the Steelers probably aren’t looking at a full-blown
        roster overhaul, but there’s plenty of work to do before the Steelers
        are competing for a divisional title again.

        At the conclusion of the season, the Steelers’ decision makers will
        determine a new direction for the team. It’s highly unlikely that we’ll
        see head coach Mike Tomlin hit the road. He’s well-liked by fans and
        players alike, and he’s proven his worth as an NFL head coach. The staff
        around him, however, may see significant changes as will the roster.

        Expect the 2014 Steelers to look a lot different than the 2013 version
        with plenty of young talent to go around. Their record may suffer in the
        immediate future, but a youth movement is needed before the Steelers
        can get back to their winning ways, and that’s exactly what we’re likely
        to see this offseason. GO STEELERS…..We need to build another STEEL CURTAIN!

    • Mike Wing

      First and foremost, there quite obviously needs to be a change on
      offense. Since Bruce Arians left, or was run out of town, the Steelers
      have been unable to find their way into the playoffs.

  • myrique21

    New offense coordinator will bring new problems. We need to fix things first, instead of changing them every time things get bad. Still, I think injuries and the defense is a much bigger problem than we have on offense. 24+ points should be enough to win any game.

    • Craig

      I just can’t shake that there’s an underlying issue with Haley that no matter what the Steelers do with players and the depth chart they will always be on the short end of the stick with the offense. What comes first – the players or the coordinator? Should the team focus only on getting the right players in there and then seeing if Haley’s good enough? By the time that can be assessed ad nauseam, players’ contracts will be expiring and you are starting over all over again.
      I think Haley should go because we can see the players are capable when the right plays are called. He just doesn’t call them enough and seems to get in his own way of being successful because he is stubborn, doesn’t seem to trust his QB fully, and is poorly assesses situational downs.

  • Jimmy Stuart

    I’d like to see the Steelers bring in Gary Kubiak at OC. He knows how to use a strong armed QB and have a balanced running game.

    • Dom DiTolla

      If they’re serious about installing a zone-blocking scheme, then Kubiak would be a wise choice. Unfortunately, they have to fire Haley first to do so. Not sure the Rooney’s would give up on their choice so easily regardless of how their franchise signal-caller feels.

      Plus, Kubiak will likely have more attractive job options to explore this offseason than the one which could exist in Pittsburgh.