When the Pittsburgh Steelers first brought in offensive coordinator Todd Haley to replace Bruce Arians, nobody was more antagonistic to the regime change than Arians’ good friend, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
While many teammates mentioned the changing vocabulary seemingly in passing while going on to praise the new offense, many of the quarterback’s comments that offseason were laced with the implication that the offense would inevitably regress because of these changes.
He wasn’t actually entirely wrong. There were times during the 2012 season that the offense struggled to get on the same page, particularly in no huddle situations. There was a well-publicized incident in which Roethlisberger reverted to an old hand signal to convey his desired audible to the rest of the offense.
The veteran was understandably resistant to the change as he enters the back nine of his career. Up until then, all of the offenses that he has worked under have been mere variations on a theme, with each new coordinator having been promoted from within. Bringing Haley in was a bit of a culture shock—perhaps one that he needed.
That almost wasn’t the case in 2012, had former Steelers running backs coach Kirby Wilson not suffered life-threatening burns in an unfortunate house fire that left him unable to perform his duties for a while.
But Haley and the offense have learned over the past two plus years how to speak the same language, and the verbiage and hand signals have slowly evolved into a common tongue since then.
Regarding the previous hand signal incident, for example, Haley spoke about incorporating it and other gestures into the offensive lexicon following the game after discovering that it was something that worked for the offense.
Haley has proven to be far more malleable and understanding than the reputation that preceded him to Pittsburgh led many to believe.
He saw how successful Roethlisberger was late in the season last year after the offense spent more time in the no huddle, after the veteran also conceded to make a concerted effort of getting the ball out on time.
This offseason, he’s spent time revamping the playbook, installing a wider variety of no huddle plays and packages, and in doing so, he’s also stripped down and simplified the language even further, continually adapting his designs to his offense.
Now he hopes to have a couple of wildcard-type players to move around this season with running back slash wide receiver Dri Archer and fullback slash tight end Will Johnson, both of whom could figure into the no huddle.
Two summers ago, we were all greatly concerned over whether or not Roethlisberger had met with Haley yet. Two years later, it feels as though we have all truly met Todd Haley.