TribLIVE

| Sports

 
Larger text Larger text Smaller text Smaller text | Order Photo Reprints

Haley enhances offense in second season

Steelers/NFL Videos

Email Newsletters

Click here to sign up for one of our email newsletters.

'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Alan Robinson
Tuesday, June 11, 2013, 11:24 p.m.
 

It's the Steelers' offense, but last season, it was known mostly for Todd Haley, the man who was calling the plays.

There were questions aplenty when the season started how a coach known for his sideline intensity as both an offensive coordinator and a head coach would mesh with Ben Roethlisberger, who was close friends with Haley's predecessor, Bruce Arians.

Those questions didn't go away when the quarterback questioned the play-calling following a late-season loss in Dallas. And when a promising start by the offense in which Roethlisberger piled up impressive numbers and the running game sizzled with a string of 100-yard games turned into an injury-filled, late-season mishmash of turnovers, missed opportunities and injuries.

And when Arians, shoved out the door in Pittsburgh, was chosen as the NFL Coach of the Year after taking over the Colts in an interim role.

It wasn't much of a homecoming for Haley, a Pittsburgh native and the son of longtime team player personnel director Dick Haley.

“When you don't make the playoffs and you don't get to compete in the tournament, it's no fun,” Haley said Tuesday during his first interview since the Steelers' disappointing 8-8 season ended. “It's too much work and sacrifice to sit at home and watch some teams that you may have beat or felt you could beat continue to play.”

No wonder that, this season, Haley hopes this offense becomes known as Roethlisberger's offense, or Emmanuel Sanders' offense or Le'veon Bell's offense, not his offense.

“You want your marquee-type players, your big dogs, to have input because they're the ones out there facing the live bullets,” said Haley, who altered some aspects of the offense as a result of the input of both players and coaches. “Just getting to know people, guys are just naturally more comfortable coming to you as coaches and saying, ‘Hey what do you think about this? What do you think about that?' As a coach, from a very early stage in my career, I've been taught that if guys believe in something, they tend to take accountability in it and things work out in a good way.”

He added: “You want your guys out there, especially Ben, who's handling the football hopefully on an every-down basis, to really feel invested in what's going on.”

Roethlisberger thinks everyone on the offense is more comfortable than they were last year, when there were numerous changes made in the way they called plays and — the plays they called — from the Arians way.

“When Todd came in, it was the exact same play that we had the past couple of years but it was called something completely different,” Roethlisberger said. “It was just hard for us to make sense of something completely new. So we've gone back to what is familiar to a lot of guys.”

Now, Haley said, “We feel night and day ahead of where we were last year at this time and I think (Roethlisberger would) say the same thing.”

Still, new terminology and tweaked plays won't make up for losing deep-threat wide receiver Mike Wallace and two-time 1,000-yard running back Rashard Mendenhall to free agency, and tight end Heath Miller (knee) for what likely is to be the first part of the season.

And Haley must find a way for what was the Steelers' second-worst rushing offense in 34 years to become more efficient even as Bell, a rookie, and holdovers Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman compete to start.

“We didn't run the ball nearly efficiently enough, in my opinion, to be a great offense,” Haley said of what was the NFL's No. 21 offense. “If you're an efficient running offense, there are going to be productive runs that get you into the scoring zone. If we get in there, I think we'll be good and, once we get in there, we'll score some points.”

And if that happens, nobody will care what the offense is called. Least of all Todd Haley.

Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at arobinson@tribweb.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.

Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk during mini camp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk during mini camp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk during minicamp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk during minicamp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk during mini camp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk during mini camp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk during mini camp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk during mini camp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review - Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk during mini camp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
<div style='float:right;width:100%;' align='right'><em>Chaz Palla | Tribune-Review</em></div>Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley talk during mini camp Tuesday, June 11, 2013.
Subscribe today! Click here for our subscription offers.

 

 


Show commenting policy

Most-Read Steelers

  1. Steelers stress improved conditioning in attempt to play past injuries
  2. Steelers’ reserve quarterbacks vie to secure spot behind Roethlisberger, Gradkowski
  3. Inside the Steelers: Rookie linebacker Chickillo continues to excel
  4. Steelers notebook: Tomlin says Latrobe session won’t differ from normal practice
  5. Memories of Steelers fan from Beaver Falls go beyond simple recall
  6. Starkey: Garoppolo baffles Steelers
  7. Steelers RB Archer trying to catch up after tough rookie season
  8. Inside the Steelers: Williams’ quickness out of backfield evident in drills
  9. Steelers notebook: LB Dupree sits out backs-on–backers drill
  10. Tight ends’ role in Steelers passing game continues to lessen but players remain selfless
  11. Steelers ‘confident’ bid for 2023 Super Bowl in offing