Steelers Offense Finally Speaking The Rosetta Stone Language

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.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Jason Brant

    If the damned o-line can stay healthy for a change, I expect an explosive offense.

  • walter mason

    Its great that Todd Haley is flexible. You could tell that he was impressed with Ben’s ad lib ability. And its great that they both can give a little.

  • charles

    He simplified the O (great for 2yrs experience or less). He worked with people that he had (has) modifying his own ideas while optimizing the talent that he has (had). Why doesn’t Mr. LeBeau give that approach a shot? Simplify!! Especially to benefit from and to take advantage of the rookies and second year class. Production from the 4 year and under players is an absolute requirement to remain SB competitive. This approach historically pays off more on D than it does on O.

  • richard

    Remember who Pittsburgh had on defense, starters there for 8 plus seasons, the rookies had time to sit and learn. Now most if those players are gone, and the younger players have ,and will see more playing time.

  • cencalsteeler

    Glad to see Haley getting a little love here. Everyone was calling for his head early on. It’s hard to plug in an offense when your in a transition period. Now, the ground work has been laid for him, I’m sure we should all see a nicely improved offense.

  • charles

    Especially for younger players, simplicity is tantamount. It seems, as Haley has done, that LeBeau might scrutinize the defensive play calls and inject a few plays just to prevent Shazier or Jones from ANY thought. Just be instinctual like a predator in the wild.

  • copanut

    I suspect the answer lies in the fact that LeBeau’s defenses have ranked 1, 4, 9, 1, 1, 5, 2, 1, 1, and 13 during his 10 year tenure, an average of 3.8. This compares against the dynasty Steelers from 1871 – 1980 which ranked 18, 8, 4, 1, 4, 1, 7, 3, 2, 12, an average of 6.0, competing against fewer teams. It’s hard to argue with LeBeau’s strategy which no doubt has yielded the best sustained excellence in defense in NFL history.

  • charles

    In watching the Steelers defense the last three years tell me that you have had confidence in shutdown ability? Further, Lake’s pass defense has propped up your ranking, and that, despite no pass rush which means Ike had to cover his man for a LONG TIME. I remember watching the Steelers and Vikings SB and counting the yards gained by the Vikes, it was less than 100 total yards deep into the 4th. LeBeau’s defenses simply don’t compare. Your stats (like all stats) need closer scrutiny and NEVER substitute for real knowledge…

  • Lebeau ‘s defense is a great scheme, hands down. How many teams today are using a version of what he and dom capers developed in the mid 90s? There is a reason so many teams use his defense as a template and thats because it works.

    The reason our defense has struggled that past few years is because its been too young and inexperienced. The coaches we have here, have been proven to get the most out of their guys, it just takes a little bit of time.

    The defense will take its rightful spot back up in the top 5 soon enough.

  • charles

    How does one explain Aaron Rogers doing as he pleases, Brady the most points against the Steelers ever, Jake Locker making us look unprepared last year. Pitiful pressure resulting in paltry turnover? With proper respect to LeBeau, Mitchell, AND Butler, please retire. Our defense has been highly suspect since 8-8 ’09’. What year was it that Jacksonville ran it right down our throats to finish that playoff game?! And I mean they told us what was coming and we could not stop it. STATS BE DAMNED because I think we had a highly ranked D that year. Tomlin has turned the entire O staff over, now time to look to the D. Don’t get me wrong though, because I would sell my soul if McKullers and Tuitt shared D rookie of the year.

  • IckyD

    Pouncey has been on my personal sh*t-list since he sat out a Super Bowl and has subsequently managed to get paid good money while being “injured”.

    He had a great rookie season and plays well- when he’s not hurt.

    It’s time he re-affirmed his reputation instead of cruising by on past success.

    We need “Dirt” Dawson to come in and teach that young man what “tough” means.

  • IckyD

    Agreed- enough w/media trying to stir up BS where there is none.

    Haley’s Arizona offense damned near took SB 43 away from Ben; the combination of the two will prove exciting very soon i believe…

  • IckyD

    May be time to let Keith Butler take the lead on defense while Coach LeBeau steps back a bit and advises.

    I hate to say it but Coach LeBeau will retire someday; best to let Butler take control a bit at a time, no?

  • IckyD

    The kinda sudden switch to the passing game skewed his averages- that 13 shouldn’t be there, but it is.

    Remember how many rules the NFL has had to make to keep Pittsburgh from winning a SB every other year.

    2 SB wins, 2 AFCCG wins, 7 AFCCG appearences in the past 20 years, 1994-2013.

  • charles

    Unfortunately, Butler can’t recognize talent. That is equivalent to Redmond fumbling on the goal line. Change maybe, Butler, hopefully not.

  • These guys didn’t all of a sudden forget how to coach. Let’s not forget, Mitchell did coach up Cam Heyward. As for Butler, all those linebackers we’ve had overs the years, he’s solely responcible for them. also, they’ve blocked him for interview for DC jobs elsewhere so he’s not going anywhere and will be the DC here when Lebeau hangs it up.

    Rooks are inexperienced and make mistakes or aren’t trusted to carry out their assignment, a simple enough reason why they generally don’t get a lot of playing time.

    Enough with the McKullers stuff, he is a project, Tomlin said it after he was drafted. If he was anywhere near as good as a lot of you believe him to be he wouldn’t have been a 7th round pick.

    As informed as a lot of people are on here, there are just as many knuckle heads who think they know better then the paid professionals we have. Its always easier to coach from the couch. If we let you do the coaching and make all personnel decisions, your team might join the Bucs and Lions as the only win less teams in NFL history.