Todd Haley’s contract was set to expire at the end of the 2017 season. The Steelers, who typically renew coach and player contracts with 1 year remaining, did not extend Haley before the 2017 season began. This was a harbinger of things to come and today the news came out that Haley would not be retained as the offensive coordinator moving forward into 2018. To be clear – the Steelers did not fire Todd Haley. Haley’s contract expired and it is not being renewed. The organization is allowing him to walk (well, as much as one can walk with a broken pelvis) and become a free agent on the coaching market.
For some Steelers fans, this news was the equivalent of Gerald Ford’s 1974 inauguration speech.
God, forgive me for ever doubting you cared. https://t.co/23ycoDEzz7
— Eye of the Storm (@EyeoftheStormZ) January 17, 2018
Todd Haley gone. Amen. Praise Jesus. #HereWeGo
— Chris Barron (@ChrisRBarron) January 17, 2018
Bye Tequila Todd ?? OH HAPPY DAY pic.twitter.com/76kIP3DQWF
— Mel (@Mel629_) January 17, 2018
I wish I may
I wish I might
That Todd Haley will be out of Pittsburgh tonight
*WISH GRANTED* pic.twitter.com/qo3aIjiCjo
— #Shalieve (@ay_taybay) January 17, 2018
Haley was the Steelers offensive coordinator for 6 seasons, taking over in 2012 after the “retirement” of Bruce Arians. In direct comparison to his predecessor, Haley’s offenses were more successful in nearly every statistical category.
Haley’s offenses averaged 24.8 points per game while Arians’ offenses averaged 22.6 points per game.
Haley’s offenses averaged 371.2 yards per game while Arians’ offenses averaged 345.7 yards per game.
Haley’s offenses averaged 5.74 yards per play while Arians’ teams averaged 5.49 yards per play.
Steelers Quarterbacks had a QB Rating of 93.7 under Haley, a slight improvement over the 92.8 with Arians at the helm.
Perhaps most importantly, Haley was brought in to relieve the pressure on Big Ben and have him take fewer sacks. In 6 seasons, Steelers QBs were sacked 191 times, an average of 31.8 sacks per season. In the previous 5 years under Arians, Steelers QBs had been sacked 230 times for an average of 46 sacks per season.
On the whole, Haley’s offenses averaged more points, more yards per game, more yards per play, had a higher QB rating, and allowed fewer sacks than his predecessor. That being said, Haley’s shortcomings came on the personal and situational sides. There were reports from the time of his hiring about friction in his relationship with his quarterback and others in the locker room. There was the story about him being out drinking at a hotel bar the night before the 2013 season opener when the Steelers managed a measly 9 points against the Tennessee Titans. Of course, there was also the altercation at Tequila Cowboy just two weeks ago on New Year’s Eve. In addition, Haley drew the ire of Steelers fans for getting “too cute” in numerous situations – particularly in the red zone. Haley failures at coaching situational football reared their head this season against New England when he failed to give the offense two plays in the event of a running clock after the Jesse James touchdown was overturned.
So where do the Steelers go from here? News broke this morning that Offensive Line Coach Mike Munchak turned down the opportunity for a second interview with the Arizona Cardinals for their head coaching job. While Munchak has previous head coaching experience with the Tennessee Titans, he has never been a coordinator in his coaching career. It is possible (and it should be noted this is purely speculation) that with the rumors of defensive line coach John Mitchell’s potential retirement, that Munchak could be in line to take over Mitchell’s spot as Assistant Head Coach. Most reports seem to be focusing on Quarterbacks Coach Randy Fichtner as the leading candidate to replace Haley.
I'm hearing @Steelers QBs coach Randy Fichtner is front runner to replace Todd Haley as offensive coordinator if/when change is made. Nothing official to my knowledge so we'll see how this plays out.
— Alex Marvez (@alexmarvez) January 17, 2018
Fichtner would provide some consistency within the offense as he is already a known commodity in the coaching room and has a rapport with current players. With Ben Roethlisberger committing to playing next season, having consistency within the offense (and not forcing the players to learn an entirely new language of terminology) would be a benefit to sustained success. Hiring anyone other than Fichtner would change the offense or force that outside candidate to adapt to what the Steelers have in place both conceptually and with terminology. At this point in Ben Roethlisberger’s career, neither is ideal. Hopefully whomever is hired as the next offensive coordinator will be able to build upon the successes that Haley had and overcome the shortcomings of the offense (such as installing a QB sneak in the playbook and make better situational play-calling decisions).