Big Ben Says Haley’s Offense ‘All About the No-Huddle’

Despite my initial reservations, I’ve come around on Todd Haley, OC, even if he seems to lack basic people-person skills. But this is football; yelling, screaming, cursing and stomping aren’t out of the ordinary unless you’re Tony Dungy. A potentially bigger issue: doing a 180 with the Steelers’ offensive philosophy under Bruce Arians, a philosophy that, in general, had plenty of success. (Yes, I know, it wasn’t perfect. There were things to complain about but it could’ve been much, much worse. On this we can agree, right?)

In recent days, Big Ben has weighed in on Haley’s vision for what the Steelers’ O should look like and, well, it doesn’t sound a lot different than what we’ve become accustomed to. Which is to say, despite suggestions about getting back to running the ball, Haley plans on airing it out. During an appearance on the Rich Eisen Podcast, Señor Roethlisberger spoke to the (media driven?) run-first perception:

“I get a little confused at times because I know so much has been made about us quote-unquote throwing the ball too much, or we’re going back to Steeler football and running the ball more,” Ben said via PFT. “But in these meetings I’ve had with coach Haley he’s all about the no-huddle, and using our wide receiver weapons, and throwing the ball, and stuff like that, so I’m still confused. I’m not sure what’s going to happen yet.”

Hell and yes. Words like “no huddle” make me happy because for as often as Arians promised to break it out, he seldom did blaming circumstances and inexperience at the wide receiver position. But in Haley’s new offense, with his playbook and verbiage, everyone’s starting fro scratch. And maybe that’s not so much a bug as a feature, at least in terms of busting out the no-huddle more frequently. Ben also touched on the whole “run more” approach to matriculating the ball down the field.

“Right now we’re practicing the pass because it’s more complicated,” he told the Post-Gazette‘s Ed Bouchette Wednesday. “Steelers fans and coach Tomlin and the Rooneys apparently thought B.A. was throwing the ball too much. But yesterday in coach Haley’s office, we were talking about using the no-huddle and throwing the ball and how much we have to use our weapons.”

One concern: while the Ravens, Bengals, Patriots, Texans, Jets and Chargers (all playoff contenders in 2012) are familiar with the offensive system, the Steelers are on page 1 of the playbook. And Ben admits that learning a new scheme is slightly more difficult than taking a correspondence course to complete his undergraduate degree. Here’s what he told Eddie B. after leaving one of Haley’s classes at the Steelers’ facility.

“That one’s a little harder than the Miami ones I was doing. I joke and say that my final paper for Miami on Tibet was a lot easier than the Rosetta Stone we’re doing now here.”
So what’s different? “Everything,” Ben added. “The similarities would be on a shorter list. Off the top of my head, from what I’ve seen so far, there’s a 90 percent change.”

As for the Haley’s gruff demeanor, Ben’s holding off on forming an opinion. “You have to form your own opinion, and we’re starting to do that, starting to develop a relationship and we’ll see where it goes,”

Though he does admit what everybody already knew: he and Arians were boys. But unlike some folks, that wasn’t an issue for me. There are arguments that Ben occasionally needs some tough love, although based on his production I’m not sure why.

“Change doesn’t happen a lot in Pittsburgh,” he said. “They just don’t have a lot of changeover. So any time you lose a coach, a player — it would be uncomfortable, even, to lose an equipment guy or a training guy because everybody in Pittsburgh is family. So of course it’s going to hurt you and of course change is difficult. But people made such a big deal about us being upset, hissy fits, and nothing like that happened. It’s just you hate to see anybody that’s your family leave. So that was the tough part.”

One last thing: Ben’s making the media rounds (we’re still waiting for him to come on the SL Podcast) and during an appearance on the Dan Patrick Show, he was asked about the 49ers targeting his peg leg during the late-season Monday Night Football game that, in retrospect, he had no business playing.

“Um, wow, that’s tough,” he said. “I don’t really complain about that stuff, either. But I think when we played San Fran, I felt like there were some things going on, some extra … Now, obviously, I did have the ankle and I was playing, so there was kind of a bulls-eye on there anyway. But for the most part, guys play tough and you go into a game expecting it. I expect to be tougher than them.”

I like to joke that Ben’s too dumb to die, and I mean that with the utmost respect and affection. There isn’t a quarterback (and maybe even a player) in the league with Ben’s tolerance for pain. I have no issue with the 49ers (it is football, after all) and I applaud Roethlisberger for shrugging it off. Plus, this won’t ever be an issue again because the Steelers have DeCastro and Adams, and Colon’s moving to guard. (Irrational exuberance? WHY YES, YES IT IS.)

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  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_GDLGW4LJGPQICR2MGPHTU4BSLM Dennis D

    Little bit of a strawman by BB, there; BA’s detractors didn’t think he was throwing it TOO MUCH, for the most part, but that his offensive strategy left something to be desired. The constant diet of empty backfield on 3rd and short, drive killing long ball attempts when the offense was moving well (or, alternatively, when BB was under too much pressure to wait for plays to develop), refusal to use screens to backs to counteract sellout pass rushes, etc.

    I expect the Haley offense to be way better.

    • Cols714

      Good lord Dennis D. The Steelers under BA were pretty damn successful no matter how you measure it.
      Win championships? Checkmark, 1 SB win, 1 AFC title
      Stats? Checkmark, Ben, Santonio, Parker, Mendenhall, Wallace, Brown, Ward, etc. all put up their best statistical years with BA as coordinator.

      • MightyVeg

        Scoring? No checkmark. That’s where B.A. failed. Often very effective outside of the redzone. In the redzone? Not so much. The result? A team that was often near the bottom of the league in scoring efficiency. And, at the end of the day, it’s points, not yards, that count.
        Was some of that redzone inefficiency on Ben? Yeah, but B.A. enabled Ben by not demanding that he evolve from his love of the broken play. And that schoolyard crap has a lot less chance to succeed in the redzone, where receivers have a harder time finding open space.
        I’m excited about Haley and Ben and Bouchette need to stop pissing and moaning about losing their pal B.A. Bouchette, in particular, needs to stop griding that ax in an effort to save face for having no clue that a change at OC was coming and on who the new OC would be.

        • drobviousso

          In BA’s last year, the Steelers played worse in the red zone than the rest of the field. In some other years, the Steelers played better in the red zone than in the rest of the field.

          This is what you call “normal” and is true for any sub-sample of a big data set. It’s true for every single OC. It’s also true if you look just at 3rd downs vs the other two down.

          There are many things to complain about with BA. I have in the past. The basic realities of statistics isn’t one of them.

  • Dean Keaton

    >“But in these meetings I’ve had with coach Haley he’s all about the
    no-huddle, and using our wide receiver weapons, and throwing the ball,
    and stuff like that, so I’m still confused. I’m not sure what’s going to
    happen yet.”

    I don’t read this as an indication of what the offense will look like, it just shows that they are focusing on learning the passing game right now because it’s the part of the new offense that has the longest learning curve. This could also be Ben’s subtle way of trying to project what he wants to happen without overtly saying it. Heck, he might not even realize it himself, it could just be the lens he uses to view these meetings & interactions.

  • Rob D

    Dennis D..exactly. I would guess you could find some old guys who want to go back to the early 70′s but I think they are more myth than reality. Steeler fans grew to sorta like Swann and Stallworth and Bradshaw even back in the vintage era!

    The question has always been WHEN they threw the ball and the lack of tactical awareness during a game. The NE game showed that Ben can dump the ball off or throw it away if need be and be very effective doing so without also having a bomb or two in the repertoire. It was a predictable scheme.

    The last straw for me was when “I” could figure out what was coming fairly accurately from the Steelers offense and I am hardly an X and O type. Phil Simms did it during a game last year too that had many upset at how predictable we were becoming.

    • tequila0341

      Pretty sure that Phil Simms said during the NE game that he was guessing run vs pass on the Steelers offense, and he said he was wrong every time. He was talking about how diverse and unpredictable the Steelers offense was.

      Yes, I know because I have the game on my hard drive and I’ve rewatched it at least five times in the past five months. Still love watching Woodley’s sacks on Brady.

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_UR6KXGPFIFYZSVJNCXCJNHDQJQ Bob Costas

    First Suggs, now Phil Taylor of the Browns – https://twitter.com/#!/JohnTelich8/status/200686028808404992

  • jesse

    Remember one key factor even without the additions on oline will aid in Steeler’s o improving. Specifically within the division. I dont believe media realizes that it isnt just the loss of Suggs that hurts the Ravens. That in itself of course has pervasive impact across the entire Raven’s D. However, other losses on that D from last season have barely registered and for those of us that watch the Ravens regualrly I find that bizarre.

    JJ as a 4-3 OLBer was as good as any player in that scheme in run game and imho even better than Suggs. Who replaces that? Redding had a career season, in pass rush & run. Who replaces that? Kruger and Mcphee can rush the passer but they did so in purely specialized roles and low snap counts. What happens to their production with no Suggs to draw attention? Having to contribute in physically taxing demands of run D? Not having back ups that can produce at an equal level?

    The Ravens secondary trhived last season and there was a good reason why. Ravens pass rush was relentless. Suggs demanded a team’s full attention on every snap, it allowed others like Kruger & Mcphee to produce against favorable match ups. Which player do OC’s that face the Ravens sweat out now? Ngata? Maybe but despite his hype he is unlikely to dominate a game in manner Suggs could. Especially as he also benefitted from having a player on the field everyone sold out to contain which left Ngata in good match ups as well.

    Also can Ngata stay healthy and productive for an entire season? His mo past 3 years goes as folllows:

    1. 1st 6 games Def MVP type play
    2. After mid way point of season he fades
    3. By end of year I often found myself after watching Ravens games saying where was Ngata? Did he even play?

    Look I know Ravens still have Lewis & Reed. Yes they will still be good but it doesnt take much from a dominating, turnover producing D to step back and as a result make a team far less likely to compete come Dec & Jan. 2009 Steelers being a prime example.

    Yes Suggs loss = no Troy for Steelers and if you have a hard time beleving that, I will leave you with this food for thought, Suggs directly contributed or had a hand in 1/3 of Ravens turnovers. Take just half of that number away and Ravens struggle to make the playoffs last season.

    • Intropy

      The Bengals OTOH were also pretty good last season and appear to be getting stronger with good acquisitions and more experience at key young positions.

    • Randy Steele

      I agree with Jesse and have also wondered why no one has talked about all the hard hits the Baltimore Ravens’ defense has taken this off-season (other than the loss of Suggs). I’m not discounting the Ravens for an instant, but I’m going to be surprised if they don’t take at least a small step back this season. And that may be all it takes for the Steelers to recapture the AFC North.