When the Steelers open training camp Wednesday, they’ll debut a new offense for Ben Roethlisberger, but the fresh start for offensive coordinator Todd Haley is as significant.
The Steelers stepped out of their conventional, traditional box to hire Haley, a move that has caught the attention of players. Roethlisberger referred to minicamp as a Rosetta Stone class in a new language, and teaching that is Haley’s priority.
“That [change] has a way of keeping guys on their toes and keeping their focus, understanding what their goal is, and that’s to win Super Bowls,” Haley said. “Win one this year — that’s our goal.”
Of course, Haley’s personal goal is getting his career back on track, after a tumultuous run in Kansas City, which ended with reports that he suspected the Chiefs of bugging his office and cell phone.
In an excellent story by Alan Robinson of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, figures from Haley’s past talk about how important this chapter is for the one-time rising star of the coaching business.
His father, Dick Haley, was a former personnel director for the Steelers, who had a hand in the drafts of the 1970s that built them into a dynasty. His familiarity with the game is strong, and he said he wasn’t sure things had a chance to be successful in Kansas City for his son. The elder Haley referred to quarterback Matt Cassell as “real average,” and said “I didn’t have any real confidence in the whole thing.”
“I don’t know what happened in Kansas City. I don’t think it’s relevant in Pittsburgh,” said Bill Parcells, who gave Haley his first coaching job. “But he probably learned a lot there.”
Now, the Steelers are learning him.
“I don’t question he’ll do well. [But] there’s a lot of pressure to live up to what’s gone on there for a long time,” Dick Haley said. “And he’d better be good because there’s a lot of pressure on him right now.”
Nothing against the Chiefs, but Haley’s entering a different world now. Pittsburgh has an insular quality, and given some contentious relationships with players in the past, all eyes will be on the Haley-Roethlisberger dynamic, and how it translates on the field for a group accustomed to doing things a certain way.