Could \”Good Cop, Bad Cop\” Routine Work With Coaches Tomlin & Haley?

By Christina L. Rivers

Rarely do I write outside the bounds of a strictly news-based article filled with facts, stats or interviews. However, with the addition of Todd Haley as the new offensive coordinator for the Steelers, a lot of talk has been spreading around the sports world as to whether Haley was the best choice for that position or not. The truth is, that remains to be seen.

John Mehno of The Altoona Mirror called Haley\’s hiring “unusual for (the) Steelers”. Haley, a Pittsburgh native, has a reputation across the league. The biggest rap he\’s been laden with is that he has a difficult time “getting along”. Tensions in Kansas City between Haley and general manager Scott Pioli blew up to the extent that there was no working relationship, but not everyone blames Haley for the breakup. Sources say that Pioli was inflexible. It is obvious that Haley is emotionally involved in football and his team. Emotion on the sideline can get heated for any coach, but Haley has been tagged as an irate and unmanageable sort.

In contrast to Haley, Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin has often been seen as serene on the sideline. Sometimes his lack of emotion has brought forth questions about his intensity as a coach. Don\’t underestimate Tomlin. The man is passionate, even if he isn\’t known for emotional outbursts or sideline tirades.

On Tuesday, Arizona Cardinals reporter Kent Somers joined Starkey, Seibel and Miller on Sportsradio 97-3 The FAN to talk about Haley. Somers admitted that even Haley\’s best friends have wanted to knock him out, but that they get along and respect each other. Haley expects a lot out of his players, and even those stars he has coached have admitted they enjoyed working with him for the most part. Kent Babb said that the portrayal of Haley as “paranoid” while with the Chiefs was founded on the fact that the organization was poorly run.

Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald played under Haley – the offensive coordinator (2007-08) – and said, “I think Todd is a great coach. He\’s fun to play for. Everybody says he\’s a hard ass and this, that…but at the end of the day when Todd came in the locker room he\’d give you the biggest hug. He wanted it so bad for us. He prepared so much and he pushed us. I remember after the NFC championship game, he was in tears. Those moments are what I\’ll remember.”

The Steelers may just benefit from a \’good cop, back cop\’ routine between Tomlin and Haley. The Steelers have the potential to go to the next level, especially on offense. Expecting your players to give their best on the field and off of it shouldn\’t be a negative. While Roethlisberger is upset with the loss of Bruce Arians, he may find that Haley is a more hands-on coach who is not only more involved, but attentive to details that Arians seemed oblivious to. Like a good parent, Tomlin and Haley can be friendly with their players, but not always the best of friends. It\’s a business relationship, and players will need to get on-board, even if that means walking on eggshells until they get to know how Haley and Tomlin work together. Tomlin is impressed with Haley, and the fact that the Steelers organization was willing to bring him on as a coach speaks to the fact that Haley is effective.

Some of the best coaches have been ones who were often painted as volatile or who expected too much from players. Expectations for the Steelers have always been to be the highest caliber of team possible in the NFL. While their 12-4 record was a success statistically, there were times when the offense slumped during the 2011 season. Haley\’s intensity matched with Tomlin\’s calm resolve may be exactly what the Steelers need to see their overall performance improve.

Haley isn\’t the only coach in the NFL to have “enemies”. Mike Tomlin, Bill Cowher and Chuck Noll all had times in their careers where players openly spoke out about them. Frictionless relationships between players, assistants and coaches are nearly impossible.

The idea that Roethlisberger will pack up his cleats because of the change is ridiculous. Roethlisberger loved working with Arians, but that doesn\’t mean that after he and Haley sit down and seriously work out the plan for the Steelers\’ offensive future he will simply give up. Roethlisberger admitted, “It\’s going to be definitely different for us…we\’ll just have to see where we go from here.” As competitive as Roethlisberger is, he may just find Haley to have an ambition that matches his own, and the grit to get the job done right.

Haley and Tomlin both coach to their team\’s strengths. Haley allowed Kurt Warner to throw in Arizona and focused on the run in Kansas City. Rooney has hinted that he wants the offense to be more balanced, and Tomlin tried to do so with Arians to no avail. With the pairing of Tomlin and Haley, Roethlisberger may find that the plays coming in will highlight the strengths of all of the Steelers\’ offensive weapons. If Ben can grit his teeth and play on a bad ankle, if Rashard Mendenhall can get healthy and the “young money” receivers can learn a tweaked offense – well, who says that Tomlin and Haley can\’t strike Super Bowl gold once again in 2012. Time will tell.

About the Author

Christina L. Rivers
Born in 1972, Christina L. Rivers follows in her maternal Grandmother's shoes as a writer. Christina is currently a journalist for Examiner.com, and writes for several blogs. She has recently been added as a writer for SteelersDepot and 'The Beam' in Pittsburgh. Christina's favorite Steelers players of all-time are Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley. She is active on Twitter @3Rivers_Writer. Christina also enjoys collecting NFL cards, and has over 5,000 individual Steelers cards, some as old as the late 1950s.
  • Jason

    Personally, I think the Good Cop-Bad Cop routine has already worked for Tomlin, but on the defensive side. I remember a few plays, where either a defensive player show boated or made an incorrect play. Then Tomlin talked to them calmly after the play and shortly there after LeBeau chewed the player out. One particular play, when Anthony Smith (former safety) intercepted a pass and then high stepped out of bounds. Tomlin said a few calm words and then Lebeau was in his face. Hopefully we win early, the offense looks ok, and then Haley builds the players respect. We should know how this whole thing is going to shake out in 2-4 games. Hoping for the best.

  • William

    Thoughtful, and well written. Not like most of the garbage I have read recently. Kudos to you.

  • Steelers Guy

    Rarely do you write without even spelling the person (Arians -not AriEns) wrong – Seriously ??? This really makes me suspect your credentials,heck the guy was only the OC for years!

  • Steely

    Nice – I call out a Rivers for mis-spelling Arians last name – the comment never gets approved and the article gets ammended – REAL professional !

  • SteelersDepot

    Easy there. the Disqus commenting system is REAL buggy since I upgraded a few days ago and yes, Christina did spell it wrong. I have an extra xanax if you would like one.

  • Denise

    @ Steely- Is it really necessary to point out a misspelled word like that. I have seen many journalist misspell words and I don’t see people pointing it out. My gosh- it was a typing error and she has been writing for a very long time even before this. I know she does spell check and mistakes are sometimes made. Is it really that big of a deal- I mean come on! Are you such a perfect writer that NEVER spells anything wrong and if so – I surly have NOT seen any articles that you personally have written and maybe you should try to do it. With an attitude such as that no one would want you writing for them with such a negative attitude. No one is perfect and not even writers.

    @ Steelers Guy- You have to be kidding me! Everyone is entitled to make a mistake and this writer is no different. If you got the concept of the article then why is it such a big stink if a word was misspelled. Come on guys- you are are just throwing darts. Writers do spell check BUT there are sometimes distractions that happen and a writer may not see the error….give me a break. I also have an extra Xanax for both of you as it appears you both need one. People do make mistakes ( just as you both do) because IF you were ” perfect” you wouldn’t be here writing on this page. Chill out folks if was just a spelling error that was missed- good grief!

  • Denise

    Jason- I agree with you. Tow different kinds of coaches can bring out the best in the players. They ALL need to work together to make them a better team and work hard together. Haley may very well bring something ” NEW” to the table that we have needed for a long time. Nice article and thanks for sharing it with us readers!

  • Steely

    Yes please – HAHAHA. Thanks for all you do with the website

  • Steely

    I guess I was struck wrong by a writer’s self touting statement : Rarely do I write outside of the bounds of facts… (Paraphrasing) — especially when she obvioulsy didn’t know how to spell Arians last name – did it at least 3 times, so it wasnt a simple typo. That, and what I thought was a cover up .. Oh, and by the way, whiffing on a last name spelling is a lot more than just a “Word” for the record

    Anyway, sure, I make mistakes. Don’t worry, I wont be a continued “Negative” influence on this great website – Best source of Steelers news I know of.

  • JBPITT

    First time I’ve ever commented. I just wanted to say your blog is the best! First place I go for Steeler news. Very impressive with detail and great insight.

  • Thank you William

  • Steely, um…I can edit it. Sorry I misspelled his name?

  • And which Rivers were you calling out? Philip? Because I never got the memo! LOL Maybe I should call my cousin and ask him if he got it or not. Teasing.

  • ROFL, wow the power of a word is really generating a lot of bad mojo. Spell check does not fix peoples’ last names. If my credibility is questioned over a spelling error – what would happen if I started writing about Ray Lewis…a joke.

  • I am surprised Steely didn’t see the spelling errors here as well “-)

  • Thanks for reading

  • My misspelling of Bruce Arians (with an ‘A’ instead of an ‘E’) was simply my fingers getting too fast for their own good. Thanks to Dave for helping me go back and edit, and thanks to Steely for keeping me honest. I apologize if misspelling took away from the general feel to the article. Please keep reading – and if you see a mistake, well chalk it up to human error.

  • Arians just always seemed to be an Ariens to me. The cover-up? Cover Girl. And yes, it was just an honest mistake. Just happens to be one I made and didn’t catch. As for my credibility, you’ll have to be the judge.

  • SteelerElder39

    Hopefully, our new OC will indeed bring some much needed ATTITUDE to the Steeler sidelines. Kurt Warner describes him as both Competitive & Confrontational. So much the better!!! We desperately need someone to IMPOSE his WILL on the offense. Their mind-set must be to eliminate the number ‘3’, as in 3-point scores, and/or 3 and out, during offensive drives! Coach Cowher, and especially coach Noll, openly channeled these traits successfully to many division titles, and superbowls. The next time I want to here the number 3, when referencing the STEELER OFFENSE, will be a 3-PEAT!!!!! Oh, and by the way Ben, let them introduce more running plays. Allow the running backs to share a little more fun in the victories. It will mean LESS hits on you, and hopefully, no more having to limp to the bank. No Good Cop – Bad Cop. Just Win Coach – Win Coach!

  • SteelerElder39

    Christina, Don’t be a stranger! No more of your “Rarely do I write outside the bounds” articles. Please don’t hang out on the sidelines. Stay in the game GIRL!! Good Cop – Bad Cop was well researched, with solid sources. There will certainly be a plethera of material to elicit our responses, eminating from the STEELER CAMP this off-season. You’re more than welcome to Host & Post so that we can Type & Gripe, in return. I’m looking forward to it!!

  • Thank you SteelerElder39 – I appreciate that. And yes, I took extra time researching because I didn’t want it to be ‘just’ my opinion. Although I typically write news-based, fact-based articles, there are times when I see an obvious connection that may be my opinion, but worth sharing. Again, thank you.