For teams like the Texans, Redskins, Vikings and Raiders , the 2013 season cannot end soon enough. For the Houston Texans especially, 2013 was a bitter year. Coming into the season they had high hopes, Super Bowl aspirations and yet they sit at the bottom of the league at 2-13. Head coach Gary Kubiak has already been fired and the team has been interviewing potential candidates (Wade Phillips??? really??) In addition to those listed above, roughly 3-4 other teams will be closing out the season on a sour note which will end in firing their head coaches and looking for new ones come Monday. The Monday after the regular season has been dubbed “black Monday” in recent years and speculation about who is to be fired and who is a candidate to be hired is fodder for those who cover the NFL as well as fans.
In addition to head coaches getting the axe, more times than not their entire staff gets a pink slip as well. Some teams may opt to keep their head men and instead fire co-ordinators or assistant coaches in order to inject some new philosophies into their team.
When Todd Haley was hired to replace the popular Bruce Arians, it was felt that Haley would bring more balance to the Steelers offensive attack and that QB Ben Roehtlisberger would benefit the most. After two years, the results are mixed which leads to the question of whether or not Haley will be let go or not.
First off, being the franchise they are, I don’t see them making any changes in the coaching staff come Monday, especially if they can sneak into the playoffs. However, after assessing Haley’s job, the Steeler brass may see a need to let Haley go and find someone new who can bring balance. Now to be fair to Haley, the offensive line woes that have plagued the Steelers long before he arrived are not his fault. Losing Mike Wallace to free agency and not having Heath Miller for the entire season are also not on him. On the plus side, Antonio Brown had a career year and was deservedly voted team MVP. Roethlisberger has managed to stay healthy all year and has a completion percentage of 64.4, and rookie Le’veon Bell has proven to be a nice receiver out of the backfield, catching 44 passes. Jerricho Cotchery leads the team with nine TD catches in what has been his best year as a pro.
Going against Haley is his shaky relationship with Ben that many people were expecting would happen when he replaced Arians. Thus far the Steelers have only managed to amass 1,263 rushing yards for a 3.5 average. They are currently 16th in the league in total offense, not a dramatic improvement from last year and down from Arians’ last year. They average 5.3 yards a play from scrimmage which isn’t as bad a number as one may think, it’s only a yard less than what the Denver Broncos average. However, the balance just isn’t there and despite Brown’s gaudy numbers, the deep passing game has all but disappeared at times, the longest pass play all year was 56 yards by Brown. On top of it all was the team’s sluggish starts on offense that plagued them in many games as was the rather unimaginative play calling at other times.
So what are we to make of Haley? First it would not shock me at all to see him retained for next year, after all the Steelers are loathe to change. And while Ben’s completion % has increased slightly under Haley, the vertical game isn’t what it was, nor can the team pound it on the ground with any consistency. I think Haley should go, but as I said it wouldn’t shock me to see him stay.
I want to know what you fans think: in a word does he deserve to stay or go?
follow me on twitter @scott8871