Through six weeks of the season, the Steelers are banged up, beaten up and 2-3. All, of course, is not well. That road loss to the Titans only underscored the issues. The defense is hurting, the offense hasn’t found its rhythm, they are currently looking up at the Bengals and Ravens in the AFC North.
Statistically, just like actually, it has been a struggle for the offense. Even with a talented quarterback like Ben Roethlisberger and WRs like Antonio Brown and Mike Wallace, they are ranked just 17th in scoring with 23.2 points and 16th in total offense with 360 yards. In other words, mediocre.
Now, there are some issues to point to as far as why the unit is inconsistent. Offensive line injuries have crushed them, and you can’t overlook that. Wallace’s holdout didn’t help. Neither have the injury issues of RB Rashard Mendenhall. But still, it is the responsibility of new offensive coordinator Todd Haley to produce, and it has yet to come together. Of course, the Haley-Roethlisberger relationship is one we have been discussing all season.
So, let’s discuss it.
I am told that the Haley-Roethlisberger relationship is what everyone expected. It is not great. They have butted heads. We’ve read about the much-publicized incident where Big Ben used last year’s signals, and that didn’t go over well. It also was indicative of a QB who didn’t trust or feel comfortable with the current system.
Before we continue the discussion on Haley — and everyone knew beforehand that he is as gruff as they come — let’s take a step back. How did the Steelers end up in this situation with an OC who clashes with the QB after Roethlisberger and Bruce Arians got along so well?
I’m told Steelers coach Mike Tomlin wanted to hire running backs coach Kirby Wilson as his offensive coordinator after last season. That was his intention. Yet Wilson was involved in a tragic incident with a fire, and no one could predict how his health would rebound. Sad to say, but the team had to essentially move on in its search. In fact, Wilson (the RBs coach, still) wears bandages from the incident.
While Wilson dealt with his health, Tomlin had to act. And so, on Feb. 7, he hired Haley. Tomlin knew there was nobody better available, thanks to Wilson’s situation. While Tomlin didn’t love Haley’s interview — it wasn’t great — he felt obligated to make the move. After all, Haley might be gone if he waited for Wilson to improve.
There is also the thought, I’m told, that Tomlin felt pressure from above, notably from Art Rooney II, to run a slightly tighter ship this year. Haley, who is intense, would theoretically help that. The issue, though, is that Big Ben and Haley have had their disagreements. With Wilson or Arians, Roethlisberger just meshed well. Thus far, it hasn’t happened with Haley.
All of which makes me wonder… If the trend of the Steelers’ offense continues, might we see Tomlin next year eventually promote Wilson, hiring the guy he always wanted to hire anyway? Could it be a one-year stay for Haley? It’s all up in the air.