Offensive coordinator Haley's abrasive style doesn't deter Steelers
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There is a method to Todd Haley's perceived madness, and looking beyond the fits of anger to which he is prone is the key to understanding the new Steelers' offensive coordinator.
That is the message Kurt Warner has for Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who had flourished under Bruce Arians and developed a close relationship with the Steelers' former offensive coordinator.
"You have to welcome people that come along that aren't willing to be status quo, and that's what I would tell Ben or any of the (Steelers') players," said Warner, the former NFL quarterback who resurrected his career in Arizona while Haley was the offensive coordinator there. "Everybody sees the outburst on the sidelines and hears about some of those things, and they get scared away by that persona.
"All I would tell those guys is, you always have to figure out where a coach is coming from before you can read too much into certain characteristics or certain antics that they have."
The Steelers left little doubt they were trying to shake things up when they officially hired Haley on Tuesday.
Haley, who returns to the organization for which he once served as a ball boy, is strong-willed and fiercely competitive, and he can be confrontational.
The coaching style that has been described as abrasive is something that could put Haley on a collision course with Roethlisberger.
"I know all the reports and talks about how outspoken he is, and for me I'm a guy that believes as long as those things aren't personal I welcome opportunities for people to challenge me to be better, and that's what Todd's about," said Warner, who is an analyst for NFL Network. "I'm OK with a guy seeing me not play my best and get on me for it, no matter how much success I've had and what I've accomplished."
Haley has built a reputation for having a keen offensive mind and an ability to adapt to his personnel. He also clashed with players he became close with, such as Warner, because is so demanding.
He inherits an offense that struggled with efficiency last season — the Steelers were tied for 21st in scoring (20.3 points per game) — despite having a 4,000-yard passer (Roethlisberger) and two 1,000-yard receivers (Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown).
"He's a coach that's not afraid to challenge guys," Warner said, "regardless of where you stand in the hierarchy, how long you've been there, what your contract is, what kind of success you've had."
Warner nearly led the Cardinals to an upset of the Steelers in the Super Bowl XLIII, and Arizona's success that season led to Haley's hiring in 2009 as Kansas City's head coach.
Haley was fired after a little less than three seasons with the Chiefs, but as landing spots go it probably doesn't get much better for Haley than Pittsburgh.
He graduated from Upper St. Clair High School, and his father, Dick, helped build teams that won four Super Bowls in the 1970s as the Steelers' director of player personnel.
"I am excited about the opportunity to come back home and work for a tremendous organization," Haley said in a statement released by the Steelers. "My father has so many fond memories both from his playing days and his time in the personnel department with the team, and I look forward to helping bring more championships to Pittsburgh."
Todd Haley will work for his sixth NFL franchise after joining the Steelers on Tuesday as the team's new offensive coordinator. Here are his other NFL stops:
2009-11: Kansas City Chiefs' coach
2007-09: Arizona Cardinals' offensive coordinator
2004-06: Dallas Cowboys' wide receivers coach/passing game coordinator
2001-03: Chicago Bears' wide receivers coach
1997-2000: New York Jets' offensive assistant/wide receivers coach
1995-96: New York Jets' scouting assistant
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