Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley was at the fore-front of the Arizona Cardinals search for a new head coach. However, when the Cardinals made their decision on their new head coach it was the Steelers last offensive coordinator that was hired, not their current one.
Today, the Arizona Cardinals named Bruce Arians, who served as the Indianapolis Colts offensive coordinator in 2012 and with the Steelers from 2004-2011, as their new head coach. Arians was signed to a four-year contract and has an option for a fifth year.
The Cardinals were the last team to name their new head coach. During the off-season, there were eight head coaching jobs open in the NFL. Now that they are all full the Steelers, are assured that they will retain Haley as their offensive coordinator.
At the end of the 2012 season, many fans turned on Haley and wanted him out of town. That feeling was likely increased by the fact that ex-Steelers offensive coordinator Arians had a great season with the Colts as their offensive coordinator and interim head coach. Arians controversial retired/fired following the 2011 season.
However, fans may want to think a little bit longer before they push Haley out the door. During the first nine games of the season Ben Roethlisberger was on pace to have the best season of his NFL career. If you take Roethlisberger’s stats from the first nine games and stretch them out of complete a sixteen game season Roethlisberger, had he not got injured, was on pace for: 65.5 completion percentage, 4,065 yards, 30 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and only 31 times sacked which would be the lowest total of Roethlisberger’s since 2005.
When Ben came back from injury his completion percentage fell to 56.9 percent and his interception rate doubled. Also, following injury which could be due to injuries to the offensive line as well Roethlisberger’s sacks went up dramatically. During the first nine games Ben was sacked eighteen times, but during his last four games he was sacked twelve times. So for those who are ready to run Haley out of town, you may want to take a look back at the first nine games of the season.
Another thing to remember is that the Steelers offensive terminology and playbook had stayed relatively the same since Roethlisberger’s rookie season in 2004. Haley not only brought an entire new offense to Pittsburgh, but also brought a new philosophy. Haley is a believer in a balance between the pass and run as well as the short passing game to keep the quarterback from taking as many hits.
Roethlisberger’s number of hits and sacks during Arians tenure was one of the big reasons that he was forced out of Pittsburgh. The Steelers know that their season can only go as far as Roethlisberger and injuries not only stop Big Ben, but the team as a whole. During the 2012 season Ben was sacked the second fewest amount of time in his career.
In terms of quarterback hits the Steelers ranked No. 10 in the league in terms of quarterback hits, but the Colts with Arians ranked 31st. That means that Andrew Luck was hit more times than anyone in the league except for Philadelphia Eagles quarterbacks.
Many fans may believe that these stats are flawed because Luck played in all 16 games this season, but Roethlisberger missed three games due to injury. Roethlisberger was injured against the Kansas City Chiefs which only shows that luck also plays a role in the NFL. Against the Kansas City Chiefs the Steelers quarterbacks were hit only once. That hit just happened to force Roethlisberger to the sideline for the next three games.
The other positive with the Steelers offense is that it will continue to improve in year two. If Roethlisberger can stay healthy in 2013 and the run game improves the Steelers offense could be very good. Not to mention that the Steelers still fielded the top ranked defense in the NFL in 2012.
Photo Credits: The Star