In the few times that Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has talked to the media this offseason, he has been very positive in his outlook towards what his second season in the Todd Haley orchestrated offense will be like in 2013. More than once Roethlisberger has talked about how he and the positional coaches have all had their input heard by Haley this offseason as the Steelers try to rebound from their disappointing 8-8 2012 season.
As far as Haley goes, he now has a better grasp of the Steelers offensive personnel after his first season of calling the shots in Pittsburgh, and he talked recently with Bob Labriola of steelers.com about that, as well as the evolution process of the offense.
"I think it’s an evolution,” said Haley, via an interview with steelers.com. “There are some changes, but it’s an evolution that I think would happen whenever you’re in a situation where you’re in year two and already have a year under your belt. You naturally know your players better. It’s a natural progression/evolution.”
With the Steelers second OTA session of the 2013 season getting underway on Tuesday, Haley\'s biggest goal right now is to get a foundation set for training camp and that includes making sure the players are communicating well and understanding all the new terminology.
“Ideally, you want to give a base foundation for what you potentially could do throughout the year," said Haley. "Really, it’s from a language standpoint, because we have words to do pretty much anything we want to do. You try to indoctrinate as many of these guys to as many of these words as you can to get it locked in and roll from there. Then you’re assuming that when you get to training camp you’re not learning it again. That’s the biggest thing overall: teaching everybody the words and what it means to each one of them."
While he is excited about the upcoming season, Haley knows that the Steelers must run the ball much better than they did in his first season with the team if they are to be successful as a unit in 2013.
"We have to be able to run the ball much more efficiently, said Haley. "We can’t be banging our heads against the wall for 2 yards, because I really do believe that you throw the ball to score points and you run the ball to win. You need both in different situations. Ultimately so many of these games at the NFL level are decided by seven points or less, and so those little things are going to be what win and lose for you."
The Steelers hope that they properly addressed those running game concerns during the offseason by hiring Jack Bicknell Jr. to be their new offensive line coach and by drafting Michigan State running back Le\'Veon Bell in the second round of the 2013 NFL Draft. Bicknell is expected to implement more of the zone blocking scheme in 2013 while Bell is expected to eventually become the starting all-purpose back in the offense at some point during his rookie season. In addition to the above, the Steelers hope that their younger more athletic offensive line can stay healthy this season.
As far as key statistics from last season, the Steelers were minus ten in 2012 when it came to the turnover differential category and Haley knows that in order to compete for the Lombardi Trophy in 2013, they have to have that number in the positive.
“As the offensive coordinator, after the season is over we can’t look back on it and say, ‘Halfway through the year we had the second-fewest turnovers in the league and by the end of the year we were toward the back of the pack,’” said Haley. “That can’t happen. That plus-minus has to be up in the plus-range. That’s proven.”
Proven is something that Haley isn\'t in Pittsburgh as of yet and this could very well be his final season with the Steelers should the team fail to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season.