Kovacevic: Ben's audible on Haley loud, clear
By Dejan Kovacevic
Published: Sunday, December 16, 2012, 10:16 p.m.
Updated: Monday, December 17, 2012
ARLINGTON, Texas — Antonio Brown's eyes were beet red, bloodshot almost beyond recognition. One could easily hazard a guess why, after his litany of late mistakes loomed so large in the Steelers' knife-twisting 27-24 loss to the Cowboys on Sunday.
“It's my fault,” Brown fairly whispered.
No, actually, it wasn't.
Not entirely, anyway.
Ben Roethlisberger stood equally tall in manning up for his overtime interception, one that not only sealed defeat but also — maybe most crushingly — conjured up nightmares of Neil O'Donnell and Larry Brown.
“This is on me, 100 percent,” Roethlisberger said. “I let my team down, the fans, everybody.”
Nope. Sorry again, but that's just not the whole truth.
Not after this maddeningly inconsistent team has stumbled all season to find an identity even when one is thrust in its collective face.
Not after simple results show again and again how it operates best and, yet, the team still sticks by what it wishes it could do.
Not after Heath Miller is targeted six times in the first half, catches all six for 85 yards and a touchdown, then never has his number called in the second half by offensive coordinator Todd Haley and, ultimately, coach Mike Tomlin. Not once.
That's not just stubborn. It's stupid.
So good for Roethlisberger for being bluntly candid when I asked if Dallas' defense had done something to take away Miller after halftime.
“No,” he replied without hesitation, “I just don't think we called the right plays to get him the ball.”
You know, there have been occasions going back to Bruce Arians' retirement/firing and Haley's hiring where Roethlisberger has made veiled — even thinly veiled — criticisms of his newly imposed coordinator. But none came close to this.
And he wasn't done.
Roethlisberger was asked about the no-huddle, which the Steelers used Sunday when they looked most fluid — kind of like always — and he said, after a lengthy hesitation: “I don't … that's tough for me to answer right now. In the second half, we really didn't do much of it. And, um, that's disappointing.”
But wait. Even in describing his shining moment, the eternal scramble that led to Miller's touchdown, this was his Roethlisberger's recap: “The play got called, and they went to a prevent defense, so the play that was called wasn't a good play. At all. So we just started making a play, I saw Heath and just tried to get it to him.”
Hat trick of whoas!
Make no mistake: What the Steelers have right here is a 100-percent legitimate, non-manufactured quarterback vs. coordinator controversy.
And I'll say it again: Good.
Maybe that's what this team needs to regain its identity: Take it by force.
This game wasn't lost in overtime. I don't even think it was lost with Brown repeatedly losing his mind.
Ask me, and it began to get lost on the Steelers' opening drive of the second half, after Brown returned a punt to the 50 and continued all the momentum Miller had generated almost singlehandedly to that point.
Here was your go-for-the-jugular play-calling from Haley:
• Jonathan Dwyer over right guard, 4 yards.
• Dwyer up the middle, 1 yard.
• Roethlisberger incomplete short pass to Dwyer in right flat.
Yeah. Way to step on that Texas rattlesnake, gentlemen.
If it ended there, OK, no big deal. But when play after play kept getting called without No. 83 involved, it became clear that Haley was doing exactly what the Cowboys couldn't: He was shutting down Miller.
Miller didn't see another ball until the first play of overtime, which, naturally, he caught.
I asked Miller if he was disappointed, and he kept to his low-key profile: “That's just the way the game goes. I understand it.”
I'm not sure why anyone would.
Tomlin's got his work cut out for him. His team is spiraling downward at 7-7, he's got to get them to show up for a critical showdown with the Bengals next Sunday — hardly a given — and, on top of that, be sure that he'll have to deal with the Roethlisberger-Haley situation.
No team can function without its quarterback and offensive coordinator on the same page, and these guys aren't in the same library right now.
I don't know about you, but I'm with the quarterback on this. I really don't care how smart Haley is, really don't care if the Steelers ever find a way to run between the tackles (they've had one outside run the past two games), really don't even care if Haley's with the team beyond this season or not.
The franchise player, that's different.
It's well past time the Steelers start hearing what he has to say before he starts calling far more serious audibles.
- Steelers notebook: Gilbert hopes to stay on left side of O-line
- Penguins notebook: Bylsma likes response to adversity
- Pirates beat Cubs, 4-2, to finish homestand with sweep
- Greensburg Salem pole vaulters looking forward to PIAA meet
- Whitehall couple sues Pittsburgh zoo over son’s mauling by painted dogs
- Tarentum man charged with Tuesday’s bank robbery in Harrison
- IRS ‘useful idiots’
- Pens will unveil even bigger TV screen for fans in Game 5
- Colleges notebook: Seton Hill lacrosse players recognized
- Senators notebook: Anderson will remain in goal
- ‘Renoir’ paints old man surrounded by beauty and loyalty
You must be signed in to add comments
To comment, click the Sign in or sign up at the very top of this page.
Round hole - square peg. Time for a change before it's too late. Baltimore did it. Do it now and save the season. Why wait? Let Ben run the offense and call his own plays.
Submitted by: lance on Monday, December 17, 2012
I believe the Haley experiment has been beneficial to the offense, specifically Ben. If the OC job wasn't going to be Arians, I don't believe there was a "right" guy out there for OC , ultimately. Winning veteran qb's good enough to play winning football generally want to call the plays, or at least, have complete freedom to change plays when they're the obviously wrong one's. I think the best coaching decision coach Tomlin could make right now, would be to give Ben the offensive reign's, or the ability to start and stop the no huddle(if there was a defensive scheme or players, Ben wanted to keep on the field to exploit). I think Ben has a great feel for games and how the defenses are playing him, I'd let him have the majority of the game to manage. Ben has always wanted to run the no huddle, which directly puts play calling on him. IIn my opinion, Ben's earned the right to do so. Anyways, back to Haley, by Ben learning and adding the short pass, ball control philosophy to his resume, it's only a positive.
Submitted by: David on Monday, December 17, 2012
I agree with Kovacevic, and both of you. Haley may design O.K. plays but he is a timid, lousy play caller. But lets not stop there. Penalties, dropped passes, fumbles, missed assignments are all signs of a POORLY COACHED TEAM. The entire staff, not just Haley needs to be shaken up or thrown out. Lebeau is good but predictable, easily beaten by a good quarterback. Tomlin is first and always more concerned about appearing to be "a gentleman and a scholar" and a player friendly coach than an effective authority. And the injuries? Fire the entire training and conditioning staff. They obviously can't keep anyone healthy. While we are at it lets get rid of the equipment supplier. So many sprained ankles can only mean shoes with inadequate support. After the troubles early in the season the coaches made it a point to say they never listen to outside suggestions or criticism, IT SHOWS.
Submitted by: Ron on Monday, December 17, 2012
Once again this Kovacevic has hit the nail directly on the head. The Steelers need to ship Haley along with his useless offense to anywhere or anyone that will take him. Why dooes anyone hire losers? They ran his butt out of KC & we hire him in Pittsburgh???????? Makes zero sense. Put the Steelers in the no huddle, let Ben call the plays and send Haley to the Locker Room - watch & see what happens - an offensive explosion will occur. This offense has been more stifled this season than it's been for the past decade. I'm certain that the entire offense is fed up with Haley as well. You can see it in thier reactions. The guys super SUCKs as an offensive coordinator and it shouldn't take the Rooneys any more than this season to recover fro this mistake. I don't blame Ben one iota for that interception - even though the ball was poorly thrown.Ben played one hell of game. This Moron of a coach (Haley) is wasting this talent away quarter by quarter with rediculous single dimensional, dink & dunk play calling that doesn't come anywhere near a match for the available talent. Due to Haley the Steelers offense has become totally predictable due to his elelementary school offensive schemes. And, all of this with one of the best QB's in the NFL. The Steelers need to disregard this man if they have a single chance to make the playoffs.
Submitted by: Keith on Monday, December 17, 2012
While I can appreciate the Steeler's attempts to run, run, run, I find it idiotic to try and run "up the middle," when the defense is looking for it and put nine-to-ten bodies to stop the run. Sweep, play-action instead??? C'mon Haley, confuse them. Up to this point I have been neutral in my opinion of Haley. However, I'm now thinking the Steelers aren't going anywhere with his play calling. Get rid of him.
Submitted by: fred on Monday, December 17, 2012
An underachieving offense certainly isn't new, that's why Arians was shown the door. I too am puzzled by the play calling this year. All pass or all run. Doesn't seem to have any rationale behind it. However, if Ben had his way he would pass all the time and generate many more turnovers and sacks as he has done many times in the past. He needs discipline which he doesn't have or he will turn into a gunslinger. One other thing, Tomlin benched the running backs one by one for fumbling, why not the wide receivers? They have been terrible during this stretch and they keep their jobs? The heartless reaction to turnovers is inexcusable. One short season without Hines and you can see the difference in the way the youngsters are playing.
Submitted by: M on Monday, December 17, 2012
Nice to know someone else sees we can't bust the D line with our running backs even with the occasional use of a blocking back (which used to work so well). Swinging out side might work (if we tried it). Odd how Ben functions so well when he scrambles. Perhaps because that's where his talent lies. Notice opposing defenses don't wear down much any more? Maybe because they spend less time running all over the field while Ben scrambles? Longing for those good old days when The Bus would bust the line behind his blocking back. We did away with his Full Back and the line busting ended. With the day to day run game gone so was the passing game to some extent. We don't need a time machine to get back to where we were. Just someone with some clout to kick back and remember. AND to have the cajones to do some thing about it. Read more: http://triblive.com/sports/dejankovacevic/dejancolumns/3144653-74/roethlisberger-haley-miller#ixzz2FJe7XTXg Follow us: @triblive on Twitter | triblive on Facebook
Submitted by: M on Monday, December 17, 2012
Nice to know someone else sees we can't bust the D line with our running backs even with the occasional use of a blocking back (which used to work so well). Swinging out side might work (if we tried it). Odd how Ben functions so well when he scrambles. Perhaps because that's where his talent lies. Notice opposing defenses don't wear down much any more? Maybe because they spend less time running all over the field while Ben scrambles? Longing for those good old days when The Bus would bust the line behind his blocking back. We did away with his Full Back and the line busting ended. With the day to day run game gone so was the passing game to some extent. We don't need a time machine to get back to where we were. Just someone with some clout to kick back and remember. AND to have the cajones to do some thing about it.
Submitted by: Angelo on Monday, December 17, 2012
Nice article! Its very frustrated but we are called spoiled fans so maybe we should just be happy with 7 wins. How about on Defense..Use the Lake affect==Move Troy P to corner insert Will Allen again. It cant be worse then what has happen in the recent past. Make the change oh wait I am just a fan I dont know any better. But I must admit when I was just a teenage I made the call to move Lake over since Lake was a great athlete. OH WELL!!