Todd Haley Putting His Imprint On The Offense

Even before the Pittsburgh Steelers actually hired Todd Haley to be their offensive coordinator, there were already doubts and theories about ulterior motives for the team’s interest in the former head coach who was recently out of a job.

The Steelers were just doing him a favor by giving him an interview, in the hopes of drawing up interest from other teams.

It was a tip of the cap to former Steelers Director of Player Personnel Dick Haley, who served in that capacity for the team for three decades between 1971 and 1990—and who just so happens to be Todd’s father.

When the hire was actually made, it was clearly Steelers president Art Rooney II’s doing. His fingerprints were all over it, overstepping his bounds and cutting head coach Mike Tomlin off at the knees, regardless of how often Tomlin claimed it was his own hire.

And this was from both the fans and the media. Haley had been fighting a public relations battle before he even had the job. And he’s been fighting his own battles over the past two and a half seasons to put his stamp on this offense.

It’s difficult to do so with failed experiments such as Chris Rainey and LaRod Stephens-Howling, not to mention an 8-8 record that very much had to do with offensive struggles. But he seems to be gaining more of a foothold in year three.

Even with the recent struggles to find that elusive offensive weapon, the Steelers were still sold on the idea, and they drafted Dri Archer and his elite speed as the next attempt to add that element to the offense that Haley has been looking for.

He also recently discussed his belief in some elements of football analytics, which isn’t typically something that a traditional organization such as the Steelers would be known for.

Haley is attempting to bring some of those analytics concepts into his offense, including his beliefs about running the ball. It may not be a coincidence that the running stable has been completely rebuilt since Haley has been here, including Le’Veon Bell and his versatile skillset, and even down to the fullback in Will Johnson.

From the sounds of it, Haley is also among those who subscribe to the idea that teams should go for it on fourth down more frequently. It is a hypothesis that has gained steam in recent years based on statistician Nate Silver’s research, who helped find that teams on average give up half a win per season based on their conservative fourth-down strategies.

Silver argues that “NFL coaches aren’t irrational or necessarily ignorant of the statistics as much as they are poorly incentivized to get these decisions right”, saying that the nation’s biggest league falls far short of embracing analytics in comparison to baseball and basketball, where it has yielded positive results.

Over the past few weeks, we’ve looked at a few different ways that Haley is looking to reshape this offense into more of his own image, including adding greater variety to the no huddle package, by incorporating what’s worked on the field into the play book. This is just one more way, but we won’t know how much of his imprint sticks until we get to the regular season.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

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

  • Geoff Cordner

    Go Todd Haley! Winning will make you a lot of friends once you get going. Rush the ball 25+ and go for it on 4th down .. gosh, I am desperate for the season to start already.

  • Shawn S.

    The imprint I want to see is LaGarrett Blount’s cleat on Terrell Suggs’ chest.

    I hope to see Haley make the most of our backfield arsenal, and find the right balance to get Blount meaningful carries. I want to see him to pick up where he left off at the end of last year with play calling and giving Ben freedom in the no-huddle, and not taking half the season to get warmed up with all the new pieces we have on O.

  • joed32

    Rooney “cutting Tomlin off at the knees”. How could you know that?

  • steeltown

    Put the pedal to the metal.. and don’t let up

  • Chad H

    I just want to see an offense that is capable of putting up 30 points every game.

  • Mark

    Todd Haley has been nothing but setback to the Steelers ability to win another championship. This team will not have that kind of success under the Colbert, Tomlin, Haley regime.

  • James Kling

    LSH was a “failed experiment?”

    Tore his ACL, don’t think that qualifies.

  • Virdin Barzey

    First off, I just want to give kudos to Haley for not giving into all the negative feedback on the internet, sports media and even from many posting on this site. The guy is good at what he does and even though Ben bought into the negative hype, he too has bought in and has been better for it.

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, under Arians Ben was not going to grow. He was letting “Ben be Ben” and that’s not what this team needed any more. We need “Ben to be better” and under Haley we are seeing it. So much so that all the Haley haterade is just about gone…along with the Rosetta Stone. I can’t wait to see what Ben does this year with an improved line, better running game, more options and another year in this Haley system. It sure looked good ending last year. If we can keep everyone healthy there is no doubt in my mind we win the division.

  • James Kling

    And a defense that allows 15 per.

  • Mark

    Kudos to Haley? Good at what he does? Last time I checked successful teams had coaches that actually played the game. This guy golfed. Having someone with no college or professional playing experience coaching in the NFL is like a hospital orderly performing heart surgery. It makes the entire organization look foolish. With his performance in Kansas City, the Rooney’s and Tomlin should have considered if they would even allow this guy to call plays for youth flag football. All the blame can fall on him. There hasn’t been a successful draft in Pittsburgh since Cowher left.

  • joed32

    9 players drafted last year and 8 are still with the team.

  • Mark

    Gibbs was a star QB in High School, which gives him a HUGE resume compared to Haley who in reality rode daddy’s shirt tail on the nepotism train to stardom. It doesn’t matter if all 9 players drafted last year are with the team. What about the drafted players from years before? Did they develop and build a team? Colbert and Tomlin cannot put together a winning team. Yeah, yeah, Tomlin won a Superbowl and made it to another. Won with Cowher’s team, lost with an aging Cowher team.

  • That wont ever happen, because Dri Archer and the defense will preform so well the offense wont have too.


    He’s right…this was a Rooney hire, as was Arians release, but the point below about Arians and Ben is right…too buddy, buddy, 3rd and 1 and Ben is in shotgun was the norm…not the exception…bottom line is Arians got too far off the tracks and PIT wanted more of what Cowher left…physical, football…3 & 1 in shotgun most of the time is not physical football.

    Haley has better tools to work with now…A developing OL, he does need some young players (Wheaton, Archer, Bell – again, and hopefully Bryant) to be productive…if so this team has good potential for this season.

  • joed32

    You’re on a “Crusade” not much point in discussing the team with you.

  • Mark

    Not quite. Haley isn’t a feel good story for underdogs everywhere. We are talking Steelers, not some High School. He’s a poor choice. Colbert is slipping. Tomlin needs win. All three need an ultimatum.

  • Toddy Bravo

    When we have a top 5 offense under Coach Haley this year, this is what you’ll hear from all of the misinformed, impatient Haley haters from last season—> (Crickets Chirping)

  • Matthew Marczi

    That is what some people claimed when the hiring of Haley was first announced, which is why Tomlin went out of his way to point out that hiring him was his own decision at the opening press conference. I’m not making this argument myself.

  • Matthew Marczi

    The experiment failed, for whatever reason. It’s a small point in a much broader topic, so please excuse my word choice.

  • Toddy Bravo

    lol. What a tragedy it is that your wealth of football knowledge and superior talent evaluation skills are wasted in the comment section of a sports blog. You should be in a front office or on TV with that kind of riveting analysis!

  • joed32

    That’s fine. It sounded like you were stating it as fact rather than rumor.