EAST RUTHERFORD, NJ - DECEMBER 11: Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley stands on the sidelines during a game against the New York Jets at MetLife Stadium on December 11, 2011 in East Rutherford, New Jersey. (Photo by Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)
An interview with Arrowhead Pride's Joel Thorman on the Steelers' hiring of former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley as offensive coordinator.
A clean-shaven Todd Haley was introduced as the Pittsburgh Steelers' new offensive coordinator last week, bringing the Upper St. Clair High School alumnus' football life full circle.
Now 44, Haley grew up around the Steelers when his father, Dick, was the team's director of player personnel in the 1970s and '80s. And as he told reporters as his introductory press conference, those early memories have shaped his football life.
"All my early memories in life somehow revolved around the Steelers," Haley said. "My earliest memory was watching the Immaculate Reception. Those things have stayed with me, and they are a big part of who and what I am.
"In my mind, this is the greatest organization and the greatest team in the NFL.
"And that comes from the heart."
Now, Haley is back in Western Pennsylvania after a long journey with several NFL stops.
He began his career in the scouting department with the New York Jets in 1995 before working his way up to an assistant's job in 1997. From 2002-2003, he coached wide receivers with the Chicago Bears, then moved to a similar job with the Dallas Cowboys in 2004.
Haley got his first big opportunity with the Arizona Cardinals in 2007 when he became the team's offensive coordinator, and he thrived in that job. His offense that season finished ranked No. 7 in the league in scoring and No. 12 in total yardage. A year later, with stars like quarterback Kurt Warner and receivers Anquan Boldin and Larry Fitzgerald leading the unit, the Cardinals improved those rankings, finishing No. 3 in points and No. 4 in total yardage en route to a Super Bowl XLIII berth opposite the Steelers.
His success with the traditional doormat team landed Haley the head coaching job with the Kansas City Chiefs beginning in 2009. The first season was a rough one as the Chiefs struggled to a 4-12 record, but in 2010, K.C. bounced back to win the AFC West with a 10-6 mark.
Offseason injuries brought misfortune this past year, however, and Haley was fired after starting the season 5-8. A reported poor working relationship with the Chiefs' front office and lack of success on the field proved to be his undoing.
Now, Haley will replace Bruce Arians as offensive coordinator in Pittsburgh.
And so, for perspective on Haley's time in Kansas City and what he might bring to the Steelers' offense, we turn to Joel Thorman of Arrowhead Pride, SB Nation's Chiefs blog. Check out his responses to some of our questions about Haley below.
AB: Generally, how do Chiefs fans feel about the job Todd Haley did? Is there a consensus, or are there competing opinions?
JT: I think we all agree on a few things -- Haley's firing of Chan Gailey late in the preseason hurt the Chiefs in 2009 and Haley did a very good job as the head coach in the 2010 division title season. It's in the 2011 season that we see some competing opinions. Some point to all the inconsistency the Chiefs had all year, especially offensively. Others point out that the Chiefs were still in playoff contention as late as Week 16. So some people feel he got a raw deal by getting fired before the end of his third season and others feel it came at the perfect time.
AB: Could you break down the offense he ran in Kansas City? What worked and what didn't work?
JT: Haley came from Arizona, with that high-flying passing attack, so we initially thought we'd see something similar. Instead, Haley worked with what he had, and that was a solid running game. They kind of stumbled into Jamaal Charles being a great player and added Thomas Jones in 2010 to lead the league in rushing. Haley will utilize the talent that's available to him -- he's not a pass-only guy, or a rush-only guy. He's had success at both.
AB: How would you rate Haley's quarterback development with the Chiefs? How do you think he'll work with a guy like Ben Roethlisberger?
JT: Roethlisberger is an established quarterback, so I think this is less of a concern for Pittsburgh than it was in Kansas City. Haley worked with Matt Cassel, who was up and down in their three years together. At his height, Cassel was a Pro Bowl quarterback with a 27:7 touchdown to interception ratio. But there were reportedly issues with Haley interjecting when the offensive coordinator was calling plays and creating confusing situations for the quarterback. That would be the negative on him, I think.
AB: The Steelers reportedly let Bruce Arians go to find a coordinator who will re-institute the "blue-collar," power run-based attack with which the team is often associated. In your experience, how well does Haley fit that profile?
JT: I think he can definitely do that. Haley had the No. 1 rushing attack with the Chiefs in 2010. They ran the ball a ton during his tenure. Haley shouldn't have a problem establishing a solid rushing attack.
JT: Go back and look at Haley's career and you'll notice receivers have often had great years with him. Haley is a former receivers coach himself and has worked with guys like Keyshawn Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald and Dwayne Bowe. I would feel good about the development of Pittsburgh's receivers in the coming years with Haley running the offense.
AB: The word "paranoia" has come up in some stories about the bizarre details of Haley's departure from K.C. What's your take on the work environment there and how Haley fit into it?
JT: Eh, it's a he-said, she-said type of situation. Haley indicated to a reporter (before he was fired, by the way) that he thought the Chiefs' management was bugging his phones. The Chiefs have adamantly denied that. It's hard to tell, right now at least, whether this is more about Haley or more about the Chiefs' management.
AB: Do you think Haley is better suited to be a coordinator than he was to be a head coach?
JT: That's hard to tell. He's had success at both. There were many factors in Haley's tenure where you could say, 'Well he was successful only because of this.' Or, 'He got a raw deal because of this.' It's strange in that regard because there really wasn't a consensus in KC that Haley was a really good or really bad coach.
AB: Any general thoughts on Haley in Pittsburgh?
JT: He loves Pittsburgh and talked about it often around Kansas City. I think this is really a dream come true for him, considering how things played out in KC. I think he will do well in Pittsburgh as he continues to rehab his image.