More: Welcome Home Todd
Although the official announcement has yet to come down from on high, various sources are reporting that the Pittsburgh Steelers will hire former Kansas City Chiefs head coach Todd Haley as their new offensive coordinator, following the curious departure of Bruce Arians.
I like the hire, but it's difficult to wrap your brain around, given the bizarre circumstances under which Arians was dismissed. Steelers president Art Rooney II seems to have been the one pulling the trigger on that one, as head coach Mike Tomlin is a long-time Arians proponent and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, who enjoyed numerous productive seasons under Arians, vocally opposed the change during the Pro Bowl.
Rooney reportedly wants to get back to Pittsburgh's blue-collar-lunchpail-hardhat-tough-as-nails-backhoe-black-lung-jackhammer-blah-blah-blah roots. Of course, this is nonsense. It's 2012. Pittsburgh's economy now centers around medicine and finance—not steel—and the Steelers' personnel basically demands the opposite of what Rooney is apparently pining for. They have a suspect offensive line, a plodding running game, and the best trio of young wide receivers in the league: Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown, and Emmanuel Sanders. Plus there's that Roethlisberger guy.
Haley's specialty is wide receivers. He's worked with Keyshawn Johnson, Marty Booker, Terrell Owens, and Terry Glenn, usually as a position coach. But his crowning achievement in this department has to be his 2008 stint with the Arizona Cardinals, in which wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald, Anquan Boldin, and Steve Breaston all passed the 1,000-yard mark. Granted, most of these guys were high-round draft picks—dudes with obvious pedigrees and undeniable upside. So while we can't give Haley all of the credit for developing aerial talent all over the league, it's safe to say that he knows what to do with it. He'll certainly have plenty of toys to play with in Pittsburgh.
Schematically, it's hard to say how the Steelers offense will change under Haley. The Cardinals were a high-flying passing offense, the Chiefs were an electric running team; Haley will likely play to Pittsburgh's strengths, too. And that's not running the ball. For my part, I hope Haley focuses on faster developing plays that will allow Roethlisberger to get rid of the ball quicker and mask the line's frequent lapses in protection.
Just don't count on Haley being as foolishly nostalgic as the team's president. He won't resurrect the good old days of run run run. And thank goodness for that.