What If Todd Haley Gets The Cardinals Job – An \”If\’s & But\’s\” Post

Ah, “if\’s and but\’s.”

Unless you live under a rock you should know by now that Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley is scheduled to interview with the Arizona Cardinals for their vacant head coaching position later on this week. Will anything come out of that interview? One can only speculate, but Mike Jurecki of XTRA 910 in Arizona seems to think that Haley is the front runner right now for the job.

So what if Haley does wind up leaving after just one season in Pittsburgh? What direction should the Steelers go in if they need to replace him?

There are certainly some big names out there right now in former San Diego Chargers head coach Norv Turner and former Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt, who of course was the Steelers offensive coordinator prior to Mike Tomlin becoming the head coach. But personally I wouldn\’t lean in the direction of either.

Last year when Bruce Arians was jettisoned many of you may remember that I had Steelers quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner at the top of my list to replace Arians. Why? The first reason was because I thought the offense that he would put in place would hold many of the same characteristics of the one that Arians ran, only with a better use of the running game and better scheming inside the red zone. When you go back and look at the offense he ran when he was at Memphis you can see where I am coming from. I laid that all out in a post last year.

Secondly, the transition from Arians to Fichtner would have likely been easier for quarterback Ben Roethlisberger to accept. Sure, there haven\’t been any sideline blowups between Haley and Roethlisberger this past season, but it has been clear from the beginning that the two have philosophical differences in the offense. Did Roethlisberger thrive early on the Haley system? Statistically, yes, but keep in mind that Roethlisberger also is responsible for a lot of that success thanks in part to him converting a lot of long third downs.

This post, however, is not one to bash Haley as there were a lot of characteristic of his offense that I liked. There also were injuries to the offensive line and juggling of the running backs that also have to be taken into account as well. Should Haley wind up staying there will need to be an increased emphasis on getting more vertical in the passing game in my opinion.

Another candidate should Haley head out west would be running backs coach Kirby Wilson, who many considered to be the heir apparent to Arians prior to his home fire accident that took place nearly a year ago. Like Fichtner, Wilson has a good grasp of the personnel on the roster already and the transition to an in-house guy would be much easier than bringing in another outsider two years in a row.

If given the choice of the two, I would choose Fichtner.

We should know the fate of Haley soon enough and all of these “if\’s and but\’s” might be for not.

I will leave you though with one more “if”. What if Arians would have been retained for the 2012 season? Would the Steelers have gone 8-8? Would Arians have been good for one or two more wins? Had the Steelers went 8-8 with him and missed the playoffs he most certainly would have been fired and the Steelers would be faced with the same situation right now that they might be faced with at the end of this week. Had the Steelers made the playoffs, however, we would possibly be talking about the chances of another Lombardi Trophy right now.

Of course if the Chargers had drafted Philip Rivers with the first overall pick in the 2004 draft would any of this matter?

Don\’t you just love “if\’s and but\’s”?

  • I can’t honestly say I think having Arians would have made any difference to our overall record.

  • Garrett Hunt

    would or wouldn’t?

  • WilliamSekinger

    Having Arians might possibly have resulted in a worse record. Suppose
    Arians ran the same wide open spread offense he has for years. Would Ben
    have gotten injured earlier and more often? Ben missing more games certainly would have led to a worse record.

  • Thomas

    I think Norv Turner is a good coach but he presents what I think was a problem for Todd Hailey, his system is built for BIG/PHYSICAL receivers on the outside that can muscle their way into getting inside position on slants and going up on jump balls, not small fast guys like we have Which I beleive fit a more patriots style passing game.

  • zyzak

    Tomlin reilied too much on injured players and rookies contributing, he also thought that Redman would be his feature back and did not bring in someone else if Redman failed. Then he turned to Dwyer who can’t run more than 3 times in a series. Mendenhall was thought to be lost for up to a year so again Tomlin screwed up. The offensive line is always hurt so Tomlin could have had Don Coryell as his OC and it wouldn’t have made any difference. This ship was doomed from the start.

  • Cols714

    Considering the past success of the Arians/Ben offenses I think that of course they’d of ended up better this year by keeping Arians. And if Haley leaves after one year it’s obvious that they screwed up.

    However, I did think a change at the time was good and if Haley sticks around then the offense will improve next year. Familiarity with the scheme will do that alone.

    If Haley leaves, I think they’ll bring in a no name guy like Fichtner or promote from within. They won’t hire another big name type of guy like Whisenhunt or Turner after being burned by Haley.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Agreeing, becaus we needed someone to take Ben to the next level, by using some shorter drops to reduce sacks.

  • Thomas

    We need someone who’s system emphasizes quickness,precise route running, Run after catch and receiving tight ends featured in the pass game who runs multiple diffrent plays out of play action, not just deep shots.

    Would Also Looooooove a Zone Running guy too

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Round up the usual re-treads. Id rather keep Haley than sort through the re-treads.

    If Haley quits here this soon, that will mean that is the only reason he came here, that will label him a traitor.

  • grw1960

    Agreed, Luck was sacke 41 times with Arians as the OC,
    Sound familiar?

  • Bradys_Dad

    IF Haley were to leave and IF Fichtner were to be moved up to OC – would that play in the thought process of Mike Wallace deciding to stay ? Fichtner would be more vertical for sure. IF the Steelers cut ties with many high salary players of age and or innefetiveness there might be enough $ and cap room to sign MW to a deal similar to that of Browns. Just sayin ………..

  • SteelerDave

    I think it starts from the top. However the Rooneys will not make the move they need to make. That move would be to fire Tomlin and hire in a coach who knows how to run a team and keep the team focused. Zero excuse for loosing so many games by so few points and loosing to teams we should have dominated. Yes he is a “players coach” and well liked but simple fact is that he cannot instill focus and get his team to play to their level. No need to even mention his horrid clock management skills and never knowing when to challenge a call. His “success” is only a result of the talent he inherited and nothing he did.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Isn’t one of the biggest criticisms people throw at the Steelers is their draft picks spend years on the bench before playing? Now they’re at fault for playing those rookies? Besides, outside of special teams what rookies saw much playing time? Rainey and Adams? I don’t see how the play of either would reflect badly on Tomlin as they both had good years.

    We tried every back we had as Mendenhall’s replacement. Batch, Rainey, Redman, and Dwyer. There was no need to bring in another back at the beginning of the season, especially since most of Pittsburgh has been whining for the past two years that Redman should be a starter in the NFL. Bringing in some free agent running back midseason who has never played in the offense would have solved nothing.

  • alex

    whatever happens happens, just nice for it to happen now so we have the most options and time to recover…OC must work-out next year or this years crybabies will be spewing volcanic magma which will be visible from outer space…

  • James

    Ben had his lowest sack per game ratio this year since 2005 (pre-arians era)

  • Bradys_Dad

    As much as it pains me to say this SD, I think you’re right. I hope and pray that Coach uses this year to learn as well. He’s the best at sound bites (aka Tomlin-ese) but words are cheap and losing seasons aren’t. Either get the all of the oars in the water at the same time pulling in the same direction or relinquish the helm.

  • Ummm, helloooooo??? We’re talking about the coach of the year in the NFL, and you don’t think he would have made a difference? You think Al Everest would’ve made a difference for our special teams?

  • Perspective. Ben missed 3-1/2 games and was sacked 30 times. Going by that average Ben would’ve been sacked 38-39 times if he had played all 16 games. That’s basically the same amount as Luck, and we’re comparing Ben to a friggin’ ROOKIE QB!

  • Haley was also supposed to run the ball more, and the Steelers wound up with their 5th worst rushing total in their history.

  • steeltown

    I know he’s speaking in ‘what ifs’ BUT thats a big what if, how could you possibly gauge the win totals if Arians was in town still?? Too many variables, I do know that Ben threw for more TD’s than last year or the one before, had a better comp% and his sacks were way down as well, not to mention the Offense scored slightly more pts per game on avg in 2012 under Haley (in his 1st season) than they did the year before under Arians in 2011. Plain and simple the Offense had been on a slight decline since ’08 and there’s really no reason to believe it wouldve been any better in 2012 under Arians.

  • steeltown

    Agreed. Adams, Rainey, Paulson, Beachum all had pretty good (not great) rookie seasons, I expect to see a big jump next year with these guys. I do hope they bring in another RB in the offseason, not a FA, but by draft. I like Dwyer and I think Rainey has big upside if he adds a few more lbs, but we need a middle of the pack kind of guy, someone whose build is between Dwyer and Rainey (sort of like Mendenhall) around 5’10 210lbs.. not undersized, but not 230+lbs either

  • Injuries, Injuries, Injuries…It really does not matter who the OC is with as many injuries we have had the last 2 years. I have no problem seeing Randy step up to the OC position and I also do not have a problem seeing Haley stay on. The O-Line should be BETTER next season if they can remain healthy because it seems they have started to draft more Road Grading guys like Decastro, Pouncey and Adams…The Defense was good enough to go all the way…We just have a VERY young team at some key positions and a few too many injuries. It’s hard to be patient but it is what it is for now…

  • No, I don’t think he would have made a difference, he didn’t last year. Look at the numbers his offenses have put up in Pittsburgh. Everest was so effective he got fired in preseason…

  • He would not have.

  • Past Success? Everyone’s down on Haley’s offense but it outscored Arians offense from last year…

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Adams had a good season?? The best anyone wrote about him is, when he was on the field he played well except for all or most of the pass plays.

  • steeltown

    That is correct my friend, not by much, but it sure did and Ben’s TD passes and comp% went up and his sacks went way down. It was only Haley’s first season, imagine another full offseason and a few more draft picks that fit his system.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Adams had a good year??

    The clammering to play younger guys referred to: Try Adrian Robinson instead of failed Chris Carter, try Brandon Johnson, see if Ryan Lee can fill in a bit, etc.

    Played the veteren Mundy the first half of the regular season just because he knew LeBeau’s system, & that wasted a lot of time.

  • steeltown

    Dont care what people write, I think he had a good showing, yes. He played primarily on the Left side in college, he was thrown in on the Right side and played pretty well for a rookie. Yes, his pass blocking wasnt great, but he’s a rookie. I do know the OLine combination with him at RT created three 100yd rushers in 2012 (2Dwyer /1Redman)

  • Maurice_hill_district

    Am basing on what i & those folks saw on the field though too. When Beachum replaced Adams at RT, it was a 100% improvement. So Adams was outplayed by a 7th-round undersized rookie from a small school. And Adams isnt the only one who didnt play on the right side in college.

  • steeltown

    Well I have to disagree with your 100% improvement statement. Beachum far exceeded everyones expectations BUT I think Adams AND Beachum both played well. If you look back at the ‘Offensive Line Breakdowns’ you’ll see they both were pretty even, with the slight edge going to Adams, BUT where Beachum stands out is the Ravens game with Batch at QB, Beachum was able to neutralize Kruger in that game while Adams was unable keep him under wraps earlier in the season.

  • Maurice_hill_district

    If and buts. Blaming all or even most of it on injuries is a built-in excuse to lose again next year & being happy to blame it on that again at this time next year.

    No basis to assume this team will be healthier this time next year, We dont know. All we DO know is everyone will be a year older. Harrison & Starks & Troy & Keisel & Colon etc will not be healthy all next season.

    Instead of being happy to have/use excuses, there is a saying should apply to the Steeler coaches: Control what you do have control over. If the staff would instead have prepared during last preseason, then practice timing of Wallace during weeks between reg season games, & do some planning like know how far yur kicker can kick, etc… Blunders killed our chances reguardless of which players we culd hav had in there instead.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Regardless of how Adams played (and I agree with steeltown that he exceeded expectations), it’s not something that reflects negatively on Tomlin no matter how much zyzak wants to spin it. He got put in after injuries to starters, not exactly a large pool of players to choose from.

  • Mike Carroll

    I think the Steelers will look to continue running an offense similar to Haley’s, even if he leaves. I’m not sure who the OC would be to run it, but it doesn’t make sense to me that they would fire Arians unless they were committed to a new philosophy. And I think that was the bottom line reason why they fired Arians, not the nonsense about being upset that Arians and Ben got along too well together. The team decided to take the offense in a new direction and I think they will stick to that new philosophy. If Haley does stay, I expect he will have big say in picking a big WR somewhere high in the draft.

  • B.J.Weaver

    How about “Pittsburgh Dad” for OC? If the Steelers don’t make the playoffs in the 2013 season, the “talk of the town” will be the HC job.

  • Tim Culligan

    Especially when you consider that Ben more or less lost two games on his own late in the season (Dal and Cin of course). I say more or less of course course because there are so many other factors losses. Don’t really love Haley but there was no sense in keeping Arian’s.

  • Tim Culligan

    Can’t blame things on injuries. We don’t read blogs for every NFL team every day like we do here, we don’t realize that the Steelers didn’t have THAT many injuries relative to the league. It’s built into the game, the last two years have been bad yea, but using injuries as an excuse means you have no room to improve. Packers had like 16 guys on IR in 2010 when they won.

  • steeltown

    I dont love Haley as it stands right now either.. I’d like to see one more season with him at OC, then I think we can start to gauge just how good he is or will be for Ben and the Offense