Todd Haley Says The Offense Played Winning Football On First Down Against The Bears

Even though the Pittsburgh Steelers are winless to start the season, offensive coordinator Todd Haley said Thursday he liked the improvements the offense made on first downs in the Sunday night loss to the Chicago Bears.

“What we did positive in that game to me that far outweighed everything was first down,” said Haley. “In the first two games, first down was a major issue. We weren’t efficient running it, throwing it, whether we were in no-huddle, whatever we were trying; we were inefficient on first down. It put us in tough situations throughout each series, and it had negative effects.

“We continued to stress it, put a focus on it with the guys, and I thought they really took to heart what we were talking about, and we ended up with 31 first downs; we averaged 7.9 a play on first down. That’s winning football. That’s why were all pretty clear on why we’re not winning is because of turnovers.

“So if we can win on first down and protect the football, I think we’ll have results that we are a little more excited about.”

Haley certainly isn’t fibbing when talks about the improvements the team made on first down Sunday night. In the opener against the Tennessee Titans, the Steelers offense averaged a mere 4.35 yards per play and only 5.17 yards per play the following week against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Sunday in London, the Steelers will play a Minnesota Vikings team that has a 5.71 yards per play allowed average through their first three games of the 2013 season, so there’s a target number for them to exceed at Wembley Stadium.

However, as Haley also pointed out, turnovers is what really hurt the team against the Bears Sunday night. While quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was responsible for four of the five the team had in the game, Haley doesn’t believe his signal caller is pressing.

“No, I really don’t and we’ve talked about it as a staff, and talked to him and really tried to look at it, and it does not appear that anything is happening because he’s trying to do too much,” he said.

  • steeltown

    No doubt we could’ve won tat game had we not turned the ball over with regularity

  • george

    No doubt Ben needs to throw the ball away more often.

    I know it is not his style, but as one gets older. It becomes more important to use what you’ve learned to support physical abilities.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    That’s like… telling a chain smoker to quit smoking. First he must have the will, change the habit, and follow up by different things. It is easier said than done. He’s fricking Big Ben and I wouldn’t tell him to change how he play if it is what he’s known and famous for in first place.

    However yes, sometime I do wish he’d throw away the ball.

  • tpalya

    Hey Haley, winning on first down isn’t enough. (see 0-3)

  • TheBlitz

    I disagree with his assessment. As of late, Ben hasn’t been very careful with the ball. Either he throws picks sixes or he fumbles the ball. Either he’s careless or he’s trying to do too much.

  • Weiss Chad

    I only watched this game once this week because i can’t bare watching all these losses over and over.From what I saw it looked like wr just stopped as going across middle on one of the interceptions. I believe the line was responsible for the strip.I am not sticking up for Ben though.He seems to be a little inacurate and really nervous.If I had adams guarding my backside I would be nervous also.I like somethings adams does but I am praying his protectioIn gets better.I think this was a breakout game for decastro.

  • Christopher Wilkes

    Ben had a terrible game in terms of the turnovers, but there’s not another QB out there I’d rather have leading this team. Oh, well… maybe Peyton.

  • Robert Truax

    Ben is good for one or two multiple turnover games a year, so they have one out of way…..there is a positive.

  • CrazyTerry

    While Ben continues to have many clutch moments in games, he hasn’t been clutch when it actually comes to drives which can win the game at the end for a long time even before Haley came on board. Starting with SB 45(yes, even under the so called great Arians), he has had only one in which he orchestrated a winning drive at the end , the FG drive against a bad Philly team last year. We may have had a couple of other games like that too , but I think either the D contirbuted with a good turnover or we were ahead most of that gme anyway only to temporarily lose the lead. . Hell, even Charlie Batch in his few starts had a more impressive comeback win against the Ravens than any of Ben’s in the last 2 years.
    Now in this game, Foster was to blame for the OPPORTUNITY given to the defender to strip the ball on the first fumble. Still, Ben should have protected that ball. it was not a blindside hit. The first interception thrown against Crotchery was partly the fault of the WR for not at least being in position to prevent the INT. We probably won’t be told who fault it exactly was, but it looked to me Ben threw that a little too much to the inside. And I understand even on that play, Briggs or someone was bearing down heavily on Adams side and that gives Ben an uneasy feeling that he needs to throw that ball that second. But thhere were a couple of 3rd and 2s or 4s that Ben just flat out choked on. And the second fumble, while Redman’s fault too, Ben should have know by that point to protect. Let’s not forget that he fumbled on his own in the middle of the game andluckily recovered. Ben had 5 or 6 drive killing plays(incompletes or turnovers) in the game where he was 50% or more at fault.
    Remember last year’s INdy game or Dallas game or Cinci game? Ben threw horrible game losing INTs or at least loss sealing INTs on the final drive of the games despite having no pressure on him on those throws. That’s way too many choke moments in one season. This is whY arians had to do. He really did not help Ben learn good habits. He could get away with that when his body was younger. But I wonder how much of those INTs are because his arm just misfires at times due tobeing banged up so much.

  • CrazyTerry

    CUTLER has learned to throw the ball faster. Why not Ben? It’s not like Ben cannot resort to his usual improv in select moments? But in the routine of a regular season game, for the sake of durability and good habits, he needs to play differently. Save the heroics for the real close games at the end or the playoffs.

  • joed32

    Wheaton turned out when Ben was expecting him to turn in on one pick and on the other one Cotchery didn’t look back for the ball until it was too late. I agree that Ben has to throw the ball away sometimes instead of running around way back behind the line of scrimmage like on the two fumbles.

  • dgh57

    Increase your success on 1st down should trickle down to success on 3td down which along with the TOs is killing us.

  • Good way to look at it.

  • Haley’s play calling isn’t why we lost that game.

  • Alexander Sebastian Heath

    You do realize Cutler’s butter to bread always have been his throwing release? Having bigger and taller receivers also make him seem much more accurate. Not to take anything away from Cutler but he’s no Big Ben. Cutler is well, in same class as Schaub and Ryan- they all will take you to playoff but doesn’t have the “it” to win games.

    The head coach only simplified the routes, made them shorter so cutler can get them out. It works for Cutler, good forhim- our receivers outside of Antonio Brown (debateable) and Heath Miller can’t get YAC. Bears’ receivers can. That’s the key.

  • pj

    Screw todd hailey

  • Steeler Wheeler

    Peyton, Brees, Rogers, Luck, Wilson, Kaepernick, maybe even ‘take care of the ball Alex Smith,’ Matt Ryan, maybe Stafford..OK, no Stafford..oh and I forgot that Brady guy.

    Steeler D is elite, add just a mediocre running game and don’t eff up the game BB.

  • Steeler Wheeler

    1 or two a year? Please look that up.

  • Robert Truax

    are you suggesting more or less

  • John Hinton

    I was at that Dallas game and that INT in OT crushed me. AB also fumbled on a punt return during regulation which greatly contributed to the Steelers not winning. Oh well…that was last year. Let’s get a W in London and go from there!

  • Steeler Wheeler

    had to look it up myself.

    2004 BB had a (4) 2 TO games, and followed that up with a 2TO and 3 TO playoff performance.

    2005 Just (2) 2 TO, and (1) three TO game, only 1 TO in 3 playoff games before throwing 2 picks in the SB win!

    2006 (3) 2 TO games, (4) 3 TO games, and a 4 TO game. go figure, no playoffs:(

    2007 (3) 2TO, 1) 3 TO and a quick playoff exit with a 4 TO game:(

    2008 (2) 3 TO games and (2) 4TO games, ugly, but, only 1 TO in post season, that in the SB win!!

    2009 just (3) 2 TO games…this team not making the post season was not on BB

    2010 in 12 games only threw 32 times a game, only (1) 2 TO game, then tossed 2 picks in AFC championship game and 2 in SB loss. Seeing a terrible trend here?

    2011 one each 3TO, 4TO and 5TO games, then just one in the playoff loss to Denver.

    2012 (4) 2TO games

    2013 (1) 2 TO game, (1) 4 TO game

    summing that up Ben has had 36 regular season games with 2 or more TO, 15 With 3 or more, 6 games with 4 or more and a 5 TO game. Not too bad out of 130 games.

    In the post season he’s had just 4 games without a turnover (all wins), 4 games with 1 turnover (3-1), 4 games with 2 TO (3-1) and one playoff loss with 3 TO and a loss with 4 TO.

    BB is a turnover machine, When he takes care of the ball, the Steelers win. Simple.

  • CrazyTerry

    Are you serious with the Steelers D being elite? Not a single turnovers. Very few sacks. And even fewer tipped balls. Sure, they control the yards. And while they are not bad at containing points, they sure give them up at the worst time possible. THis D has not beeen elite since SB 43. They have had good stretches like the second half of last year. But the days of elite are over for now. Maybe if they can get some turnvoers, we can reassess them.

  • Mike Carroll

    I don’t vote down on much, but this certainly deserves it.

  • Robert Truax

    Over the last couple years he is averaging 4 multiple TO games which confirms what I said albeit I should have said couple vice one or two games. Still, he has one out the way.

  • charles

    It isn’t that simple. Defenses easily sit on those short 2 second throws and head the opposite way. Remember New Orleans doing that to Manning acouple of years ago in the Super Bowl. Also recall 2 costly interceptions by Ben last year that cost us games. The Bears and Cutler seem to start fast and finish slow and it has been because after a few games you start to see that Cutker really doesn’t have good arm strength.
    Our offense is moving in the right direction. This article is telling and very positive for Steelers O and the pressure it will put on next weeks DC. Lets hope that we have not too big a ditch to drive out of.

  • charles

    Agree about Ben, but Peyton? Aargh… I would seriously like to see Ben more prepared and ATTACKING the D, not scrambling from it.

  • charles

    Not quite. What your stats don’t tell your football fantasy mind is when Ben is trying to make something happen. Your riskless scenario is for cheerleaders who don’t understand the game.

  • charles

    Go to CHFF. They have a stat on winning drives by qbs. Aaron Rodgers is the second worst in the HISTORY of the NFL.