Steelers Lounge Podcast #69: It’s Todd Haley, Y’all

On Friday, I posted my conversation with Lance Zierlein, son of former Steelers’ o-line coach Larry Zierlein and co-owner of TheSidelineView.com. He had a lot of interesting things to say about Big Ben, Todd Haley, Tomlin and the Steelers organization. If you missed it, you can catch it here.

In the latest edition of the Steelers Lounge Podcast, Adam, JJ and I talk about — you guessed it — Todd Haley and what this all means for the Steelers in 2012 and beyond. Maybe Ben does need a firm hand. Maybe Haley is the guy to do it. Or perhaps Art Rooney II’s grand plans will blow up in everybody’s faces. We talk about it on the podcast.

We also touch on the latest Hines Ward rumors, whether it makes salary-cap sense to put him out to pasture, if he truly does have anything left, and if Jerricho Cotchery might be in the organization’s future.

Finally, we discuss Weslye Saunders, ROBOPUNTER vs. Kapinos, Suisham vs. anybody, and get a head start on the draft because, after all, it’s only two and a half months away.

Alright, let’s get to the chattin’…

Steelers Lounge Podcast #69: HALEY

Steelers Lounge Podcast

As always, thanks to everybody for subscribing to the podcast (do it now if you haven’t) and if you want to send questions, comments, complaints or whatever about the show, email us here.

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  • Cols714

    Before I listen to this, I’m going on the record of endorsing Kapinos and just ending the Sepulveda saga.

    Kapinos punted well last year (at least I think).

  • Randy Steele

    I detected a note of antagonism against the Rooneys and their handling of the forced retirement of Arians during your show. Somehow his dismissal is being interpreted as a meddlesome act by a group guileless, petulant owners and managers, and should only have been exercised with the proper approval and under the direction of the head coach. Really?

    Well, the head coach had his chance to do it right two years ago… and blew it. But let back up for a moment.

    According to a report by Jim Wexell (whom I generally trust despite him being somewhat thin-skinned and admittedly hot-headed), the Rooneys wanted to get rid of Arians two years ago, in part because he wouldn’t follow orders and had a big huge loud blubbery mouth. Apparently, around that time, Arians leaked the players the Steelers were interested in drafting to some of his buddies in the media, and–quelle surprise!–the information got out. (I suspect that’s why Ed Bouchette is so amazingly adept at guessing the Steelers draft picks.)

    The Rooneys, Kevin Colbert, and the Steelers’ scouting organization were dumb struct, livid, and absolutely furious, not necessarily in that order.

    Now, I worked for several decades as a middle manager, fighting the white collar wars day-in and day-out, and while I profess to be no expert, I know that the number one rule for any middle manager is this: Keep the Boss Happy. And in the case that the boss is also an owner, Keep the Boss Extra Happy.

    Mike Tomlin failed to do this.

    If Wexell’s report is true, two years ago one of Tomlin’s bosses, either directly or indirectly, mentioned that the team would probably be better off if Arians was shown the door. Tomlin made the mistake of thinking he had a choice in this matter. Instead of heeding his bosses’ instructions, he and Rothlisberger teamed up to plead Arians’ case and save his job. And the Rooneys relented… for the time being.

    I believe that Tomlin made a big rookie mistake. He made the mistake of believing that being a Head Coach of the Pittsburgh Steelers meant (to him) that he had more power and autonomy than he really had. In reality, Tomlin is simply a middle manager in the organization, despite the heady title on his business card.

    By supporting Arians and temporarily saving his job, Tomlin had in fact put himself out on the same skinny branch Arians was sitting, which meant that any failure by Arians would now also be Tomlin’s failure, at least in the eyes of the Rooneys, which is all that counts.

    Snap! So when Arians eventually, inevitably failed, Tomlin failed with him.

    And so when it was time to finally do the dirty deed, it was the Rooneys’ job to pick up the ax and swing it, all of which means Tomlin’s authority has been trimmed considerably, I believe.

    My point is this: Mike Tomlin should have fired Arians two years ago, rightly or wrongly. By not doing it, he weakened his standing in the eyes of the Steelers’ owners and managers, and consequently, is now suffering the consequences. And one of those consequences is that he most likely did not get to choose Arians’ successor, and he most likely will not get to make any serious hire or promotion without the Rooneys’ and Kevin Colbert’s approval.

    I don’t believe that Mike Tomlin has nearly as much authority or trust within the organization as many of us have believed. And I wouldn’t be surprised when it comes time to renew Tomlin’s contract, if the Steelers don’t play hardball with him extra hard. After all, his successor, if he’s had any success with the offense at all, may already be in the building.

    • Randy Steele

      Sorry for being so wordy, but I don’t get paid to edit anymore, not even for my own stuff.

    • EasyLikeSundayMorning

      If Tomlin isn’t resigned, how many teams will line up to outbid each other for him? 5? 10? 15? Hell, I think some teams would fire their coach just to have a shot at him.

      • Randy Steele

        Maybe 20 teams would fight to sign him, Easy. Maybe more. I’d know I’d sign him in a heartbeat.
        But that’s not the point.What I’m trying to say in my usual, long-winded, boring fashion is that this recent episode with Arians and Haley might be proof that Mike Tomlin isn’t nearly as powerful within the organization as many of us would believe him to be. And maybe that means he’s not a slam dunk to be re-signed.I hope I’m reading too much into it, but the way this event unfolded certainly surprised me and has made me reconsider the inner workings of the Steelers’ ownership and front office.

        • Anonymous

          I think it’s true in general that the head coach isn’t as powerful as most believe. He’s not the boss. The GM is the boss (under the owner). The coach has power because he’s been hired to guide his team a certain way. That power is based on respect and trust, but it’s advisory.

          • GlennW

            Head coaches garner “power” with their success and popularity, with their ability to generate wins, interest and revenues for the franchise.  While anyone can be fired if it comes to it (hell, Dan Rooney eventually fired his brother and co-owner Art Rooney Jr.), on the Steelers I would say that Tomlin is at least as powerful if not more so than Kevin Colbert, whom I would regard more as a peer to Tomlin than a boss (especially with them having such disparate responsibilities).

            Let’s face it, if Tomlin weren’t retained in a year or two because of this supposed spat over his coordinator (as opposed to the Steelers collapsing on the field or something like that), there’d be widespread outrage.  If nothing else, such a potential PR backlash represents power.  While Jerry Jones’ ego was big enough to allow him to think that letting Jimmy Johnson walk would be no big deal, the Rooneys want no part of such a nightmare scenario, I’m sure.

    • GlennW

      > Snap! So when Arians eventually, inevitably failed, Tomlin failed with him.

      Well, except for the part about the Steelers bouncing back and returning to the Super Bowl after all this stuff supposedly went down two years ago, behind a pretty productive offense.  Not to mention that this “compromised” draft turned out to be a strong one (Pouncey, Worilds, Sanders, Sylvester, and A. Brown).  I would think that Tomlin could claim nothing but vindication after that season, if he actually was the key to Arians being retained..

      I take Jim Wexell’s tales of intrigue and deception with a complete grain of salt, ever since he floated that “the whole team hates Ben” crap in 2008.  (You know, right before Ben won another Super Bowl.  Seriously, I *don’t* trust Wexell.  As something of an outsider he appears to relish this muckraker role.)  I also have no problem with Tomlin speaking his peace on his coaches (within reason), and I seriously doubt that the Rooneys do either beyond any reasonable standard of simple disagreement.  Tomlin can always be overruled by ownership and as a team player then just move on, as it appears he just has in this latest Arians affair (perhaps as opposed to Ben).  I wouldn’t read anything more into it than that.  But if there is more to the story because Art Rooney II isn’t the patient, tolerant, non-egotistical person that his father is, well, then hopefully this doesn’t lead him into making a big mistake with Tomlin.

    • GlennW

      > Snap! So when Arians eventually, inevitably failed, Tomlin failed with him.

      Well, except for the part about the Steelers bouncing back and returning to the Super Bowl after all this stuff supposedly went down two years ago, behind a pretty productive offense.  Not to mention that this “compromised” draft turned out to be a strong one (Pouncey, Worilds, Sanders, Sylvester, and A. Brown).  I would think that Tomlin could claim nothing but vindication after that season, if he actually was the key to Arians being retained..

      I take Jim Wexell’s tales of intrigue and deception with a complete grain of salt, ever since he floated that “the whole team hates Ben” crap in 2008.  (You know, right before Ben won another Super Bowl.  Seriously, I *don’t* trust Wexell.  As something of an outsider he appears to relish this muckraker role.)  I also have no problem with Tomlin speaking his peace on his coaches (within reason), and I seriously doubt that the Rooneys do either beyond any reasonable standard of simple disagreement.  Tomlin can always be overruled by ownership and as a team player then just move on, as it appears he just has in this latest Arians affair (perhaps as opposed to Ben).  I wouldn’t read anything more into it than that.  But if there is more to the story because Art Rooney II isn’t the patient, tolerant, non-egotistical person that his father is, well, then hopefully this doesn’t lead him into making a big mistake with Tomlin.

    • David

      Randy, well said. The Steelers’ brass should have acted and not made the decision a democracy.

      A note on Wexell: I trust his info and insight.

      But Randy, watch out! EB and Wex both visit this site and peruse the comments–I think.

  • EasyLikeSundayMorning

    The image of Hines running around on special teams blowing people up is a fun one.

  • Cols714

    Yuck, Shutdown Corner has a picture of Hines Ward wearing a Ravens uniform. If Hines is cut, you don’t think he’d actually play for the Ravens do you?

    Maybe it would be worth keeping him around in that case.

  • Cols714

    Just finished the podcast, excellent work. The discussion about restructuring the contracts was interesting. I think that restructuring them to get under the 2012 cap is OK and doesn’t really screw things up later on because the cap is supposed to increase dramatically in 2014 isn’t it?

    If that’s true then pushing the money over to later years is definitely the way to go.

  • Pingback: Another View on Tomlin, Arians, Big Ben and Art II | Steelers Lounge

  • Mike L

    There is a discussion on BTSC about Wallace and the franchise tag.  The poison pill was eliminated in the new CBA.  That does not mean a team could not give a huge roster bonus year one to make it difficult for the Steelers to match.  Along with NE I could see SF giving up the #30 for Wallace or Houston giving up the #27.  Remember a team only gets a first round pick no longer a 1st and 3rd.  Thus the Steelers might need to franchise Wallace in order to keep him while working on a new deal.  Franchising also would make trading him easier if they cannot reach a fair contract.
    JJ, I have brought up to Ted more than once Jermaine Cunningham was drafted with the pick immediately after the Steelers by the Patriots who were looking for an OLB pass rusher.
    http://www.nfl.com/draft/2010/tracker#dt-tabs:dt-by-round/dt-by-round-input:2

      There was a market for Worilds in the 2nd rd.  Ted just was very high on a OL.  Unfortunately, history has shown if you want a 250-260 lb pass rusher you have to get him in the 1st two rounds.  Now there are specialist like Aldon Smith.  also the Eagles traded up to get Brandon Graham becasue he was comparable to Woodley.

    • Anonymous

      Good point, when looking at who was interested in what you need to consider DEs not just OLBs. With the benefit of hindsight, I wish they would have gone with Navorro Bowman.