With Todd Haley officially in as the Steelers’ new offensive coordinator, here are two questions to ponder: when will he have his first confrontation with Ben Roethlisberger and will it be public, say even at an OTA practice?
One thing the Steelers don’t have to worry about in the near future is Roethlisberger getting too chummy with the coach running the offense or wielding too much influence when it comes to the offense.
The Steelers couldn’t have swung the pendulum any further than they did when they hired Haley to succeed Bruce Arians.
That is at least the case when it comes to their franchise quarterback. And that is precisely the point of the change the Steelers made at offensive coordinator, as clumsily as they executed it.
The organization clearly thought it needed to shake things up a little with Roethlisberger and the offense. If it can navigate the tricky part -– getting Roethlisberger to buy into a new coach that will get in his face -– Haley might be just what an offense that underachieved last season needs.
Former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner -– the one that led a second-half rally in the 2008 Super Bowl only to get trumped at the end by Roethlisberger –- credited Haley for helping him resuscitate his career in Arizona.
Haley’s coaching style can be as subtle as a cold glass of water thrown in the face, but Warner said it is effective. In a phone interview Tuesday Warner said the best advice he can give Roethlisberger is to get to know Haley –- and to understand that Haley wants to win as badly as anyone.
“He’s a coach that demands a lot of his players,” said Warner, who is now an analyst for the NFL Network. “He’s a coach that’s not afraid to challenge guys 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.
“For me I got to know Todd and I got to understand that when Todd (lost his temper) that was out of his passion for the game, that was out of his passion for wanting our team to be great and wanting our team to accomplish more than we should have and sometimes that leads to those outbursts. Sometimes that leads to questioning guys in certain situations and I’m OK with it.”
Here are some other observations Warner shared about Haley, with whom he is still close:
On Haley as an offensive coach
“He’s a guy that’s innovative, that’s willing and open to change and do things that he feels can lead to success even if it’s not something he had done in the past. And he’s a guy that loves to push players on the football field as well as in the classroom and I think that’s a huge key. For him, it’s not just physical, he wants to push the envelope mentally too and challenge guys with new things, new things that can make them and the team better. I loved all of those things about him.”
On potential downside to Haley’s coaching style
“The unfortunate thing is I don’t think enough players have thick skin in this business where you can realize that a coach gets on you, embarrasses you or challenges you and it’s not always a personal thing. It’s not always about you as an individual and it’s not deeper than that. Sometimes, it’s ‘Hey I need more from you right now. I need you to battle for us. I need you to get in your playbook more. I need you to do this better.’ I love that and I think that was a big part of our success (in Arizona) because we never had a great football team but him along with the rest of the coaches pushed our guys to be great and to not settle. Any player can benefit from that if they’re open to that style and open to somebody challenging them in that way.”
On what he would tell Roethlisberger
“Everybody sees the outburst on the sidelines and hears about some of those things and they get scared away by that persona. They don’t really understand it and don’t really know what it’s all about. 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. That was always my goal too, to be great and it challenged myself to be great and it challenged others guys to be great. When you know that and understand where it comes from, that it’s not a personal attack, I think if you want to be a great player then you’re willing to take that on and you have to have thick skin.”
– Scott Brown