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”?