Todd Haley Interview

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Baltostiller
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Todd Haley Interview

Post by Baltostiller » Fri Mar 27, 2020 1:52 am

Discuss
https://steelerstakeaways.com/exclusive ... 2012-2017/
Exclusive with Former Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley, 2012-2017
POSTED ON MARCH 21, 2020
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First off, tell us what’s going on with you now and what’s next?

Well I’m at a crossroads. It’s been 26 years of coaching and I’m 52 now. I’ve been afforded some time while I’m still under contract to think about what’s next and to make up some lost time with my family. I’ve watched more soccer and golf games lately than I had over the last 20 years. My parents are in Orlando and they aren’t doing so great so it’s good to be close to them too. So, it’s been really nice not to have to jump into anything. I love coaching and if the right thing comes along sure, but for right now I’m enjoying my time with my family.

Obviously your father was a big influence on you as coach – who else influenced that style as well and how?

Well my father always reminded me of how fortunate I was to grow up with it as a kid and he was right. The memories of being there at camp in Latrobe as a kid and on the sidelines for things like the Immaculate Reception.


I grew up with the NFL – it was my whole life. I’d watch Hall of Fame players every day with the Steelers – it was such a huge advantage seeing what great players did to be great. Lambert was always my idol – we’d fight as kids to see who would get to wash his car in camp.

Watching Lambert – in the locker room Swann and Stallworth would throw balls to each other in the locker room before games and Lambert would be sitting at his locker smoking cigarettes by himself. It was like a forcefield around him – if one of the balls went past those guys and rolled to Lambert, they’d just leave it there. No one would get it!

Any other coaches influence you?

Perles, Carson, Noll – to be around them as a younger guy – that made a big impact on me.

I got started as a scout with the Jets under Harris and Kirwan when they worked for Parcells. I got a job offer at Oklahoma State but I decided to stay with the Jets for much less money. Parcells told me it was a dumb decision, but he gave me a job working for him and I learned a lot from him as well.

Erhadt and Henning took me under their wing there, and when Bill retired to take on the GM thing, Dan gave me a lot of responsibility. He was such an underrated coach. He had the confidence to give his assistants more responsibility than most coaches did – if you could show things on tape and prove your ideas he’d run with them. That stayed with me.

Parcells and Henning were big influences. And then there was Dick Jauron who was a totally different kind of coach but a great one too. He liked to have family around and every Monday he’d have the wives and kids come to the team and we’d all eat together. That stayed with me too – having family around really kept the team close-knit.

Later on I went back to working for Parcells – I was more mature as a coach then. I went to Arizona afterwards – I could have stayed in Dallas – Jerry Jones wanted to keep me around as his pass game coordinator, but I was offered the offensive coordinator position in Arizona with Kenny {Wisenhunt}. People thought I was crazy to leave Dallas then but we did some great things there in a short period of time.

You seemed to bring offensive success to the teams you coached for …

I had experience with turnarounds I think. The Jets under Parcells taught me a lot – then in Arizona we did big things that hadn’t been done there before – and even Dallas. And as a head coach in Kansas City we turned things around there too and led the league in rushing. It didn’t work out there in the end but we had more success there too.

So much talk about your confrontational personality. Overblown? Or is there truth to it?

I think it’s overblown. I have a lot of good friends everywhere I’ve coached! Keyshawn, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald are all good friends. I’m not a player’s coach, but I do adjust to the situation at hand.

When I got to Pittsburgh there was a certain way things were being done there so I adjusted. They were already successful. I just think you can take a couple clips of any coach and make them look a certain way, but I don’t think I was much different than any other successful coach. A good example is the Boldin blowup in Arizona, I wasn’t involved in that at all – it was near me but it had nothing to do with me. That was Anquan blowing up after a year of frustration over money and other things that had nothing to do with me.

I learned so much in Kansas City in those three years. Parcells actually called me and told me I did my best coaching job he’s ever seen in that last season – and that was a week before they fired me. We had a ton of injuries to so many key players. But people blamed it on my personality and that is overblown. The problem is when perception becomes reality for people. But if you look, wherever I’ve gone, players have had their best seasons.

After that Kansas City job, how did you end up in Pittsburgh?

I had some opportunities and at the time I didn’t know Mike {Tomlin} at all. But I had a friend who gave me Mike’s number and I cold-called him. I was at the Senior Bowl on someone else’s dime for an interview, and Mike said I should come talk to him there. So I sat down with Mike who was in his sweatpants and socks, and what started off as an informal conversation became a three-hour discussion on the job. I told my wife after that that I didn’t care about the money – I wanted to go back to Pittsburgh and coach there and give my kids that experience of being in Pittsburgh. I was a huge Pittsburgh sports fan – the Pirates and Penguins too – and was impressed with Mike. He and I just hit it off.

I went back again to Pittsburgh again – saw Bill Nunn, who was my dad’s old roommate – and met with them again. I made it clear it wasn’t about money for me =- that I wanted to go for the opportunity.

A lot of talk about the friction that supposedly existed between you and Ben. What was behind that talk?

My number one priority – the direction given to me by Mike – was to change the way Ben played the game. They wanted to prolong his career and get him away from some of the backyard scrambling style of play that he liked – and was very successful at. So we worked together and evolved his game so he got the ball out faster and let his receivers make plays.

The friction thing was overblown. We’d play golf and go out to dinner together. It was tough at the beginning for sure – he and Bruce {Arians| were very close. But I had nothing to do with Bruce leaving. My only regret is in not talking to Ben sooner about implementing the new offense – not talking to him right away. I didn’t understand his sensitivity to losing a good friend in Bruce. But we had a good relationship and had fun together too. I enjoyed it there and being with him.

You had some of the team’s most successful offensive seasons there – why was that?

When I was there there were a number of key defensive guys that were retiring. The defense was in a serious transition. It wasn’t the same defense of years before. That’s how Ben and I came up with the “We need to score 30 points a game.” quote. Mike and I met every week and we’d go over how many point we’d need to score that week – sometimes it was just “As many as we can!”

I just think that wherever I’ve been I’ve taken what I’ve been given and used it to the best I could. In Arizona we didn’t have a great run blocking line and Edgerrin James wasn’t the back he used to be, but we had Kurt and great receivers, so I pushed the passing game. I felt that was my strength – I wasn’t system-oriented. Sure I had my terminology and that, but I never tried to fit a square peg into a round hole. You play with the guys you got – Parcells always beat it into me that you find out what your players do best and get them to do it. We were lucky in Pittsburgh that we had Ben, great receivers and LeVeon – so we could be balanced and run and pass.

Any insight you can offer on what happened after those six years in Pittsburgh?

We had six successful years in Pittsburgh offensively – it’s a testament to the Steelers and everyone there. Everything changes though. Sometimes, it’s about money. Sometimes teams feel they can do things after a coach leaves. We had a pretty good system that was running smoothly there. We didn’t have many new guys on offense to plug in. I felt comfortable letting Randy call some plays for me – I felt that was the right way to do things – to help develop coaches and allow them to grow.

Sometimes a successful coach can coach themselves out of job?

Maybe yeah.. Again – there could be other things too – they had me and Munchak and Randy to think about and some of those guys had been around a while too.

You like the way the game has been changing?

I think the focus on offense has been great for the game and viewership. People are enjoying the game. As an offensive coordinator you love to have that advantage. Now, as a head coach, you don’t like it so much!

There are a number of young quarterbacks I think you’ll see around for a long time that are fun to watch. It’s the evolution of the league. It’s hard now to find fullbacks in the NFL because colleges haven’t used them as much. Inline blocking tight ends are making a comeback but they were hard to find for a while. I think it’s defined by the college game somewhat. At first it was the super=spread offenses which changed the talent that was available to NFL teams, and now colleges are moving away again from the super-spread.

I watched a lot of film on Lambert when I was a kid – my dad would watch it on his projector – show it on the wall and tell me that was what a great football player looked like. I think coming from a scouting background helps – versus just having a coaching background. We have a vision of what a player could be – not just what he is. We see the vision of what a player can do and have our minds more open to that.

Any last good stories of your time there in Pittsburgh – as a coach or growing up there?

Oh a couple of ones . One about Lambert. I was hanging out with the Perles boys and afterwards went home, and could tell something was going on. I asked my dad what the problem was, and he told me that Lambert was skinny-dipping in the pond at St. Vincents and a nun saw him there and didn’t know what to do. He was trying to figure out who he was going to send to talk to Jack!

And I remember watching Terry Bradshaw and Joe Gilliam playing catch with each other in practice. They’d take a step back 10 yards after every throw. By the time they were done they were throwing 90 yard passes to each other. I’ve never seen anything like it since – how strong their arms were. And Joe’s was better than Terry’s!



truckstoppornpatron
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Post by truckstoppornpatron » Fri Mar 27, 2020 6:22 am

Oh please Christ let this hiring happen

Donnie Brasco
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Post by Donnie Brasco » Fri Mar 27, 2020 12:47 pm

I think it was Swiss who said: this dude never played college football, yet kept getting coaching gigs on the coattails of his dad

Couldn't agree more

955876
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Post by 955876 » Fri Mar 27, 2020 5:28 pm

Was hoping the interviewer would hit Todd up for some wife sharing stories.

Havoc
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Post by Havoc » Fri Mar 27, 2020 7:27 pm

Watching Lambert – in the locker room Swann and Stallworth would throw balls to each other in the locker room before games and Lambert would be sitting at his locker smoking cigarettes by himself. It was like a forcefield around him – if one of the balls went past those guys and rolled to Lambert, they’d just leave it there. No one would get it!
LOL :D

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Obviously
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Post by Obviously » Sat Mar 28, 2020 12:30 am

I had some opportunities and at the time I didn’t know Mike {Tomlin} at all. But I had a friend who gave me Mike’s number and I cold-called him. I was at the Senior Bowl on someone else’s dime for an interview, and Mike said I should come talk to him there. So I sat down with Mike who was in his sweatpants and socks, and what started off as an informal conversation became a three-hour discussion on the job. I told my wife after that that I didn’t care about the money – I wanted to go back to Pittsburgh and coach there and give my kids that experience of being in Pittsburgh. I was a huge Pittsburgh sports fan – the Pirates and Penguins too – and was impressed with Mike. He and I just hit it off.
I suppose this is revisionist history because Tomlin was forced to hire Haley by the Irish Mafia running the Steelers, right? Right?
#NoMoTomlin
#BecauseTomlin
#FireTomlin
#SuchIsLife
#Obviously

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RemoAZ
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Post by RemoAZ » Sat Mar 28, 2020 1:12 am

"My number one priority – the direction given to me by Mike – was to change the way Ben played the game. They wanted to prolong his career and get him away from some of the backyard scrambling style of play that he liked – and was very successful at. So we worked together and evolved his game so he got the ball out faster and let his receivers make plays."

I think he was very successful in accomplishing this. I have no doubt Ben would either be retired or have a lot more lost games to injury if Arians wasn't shown the door. He's a better QB because of Haley. Haley's problem is he was a poor and predictable play caller. Not sure if that was he and Ben just not being on the same page but there were times when the play calling was just terrible. That offense should have scored a lot more points than it did.
Howard Griffith had to resort to chop-blocking him during the 1997 AFC Championship Game. An incredulous Kirkland asked Griffith, “Why do you have to use cheap tactics like chop-blocking?” Griffith replied “Why do you have to be a 300-pound linebacker?”

the-other-burg
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Post by the-other-burg » Sat Mar 28, 2020 3:35 pm

Haley was far from perfect, but he was nowhere near the most imperfect part of that staff. The offense carried the team and put up some of the most prolific numbers in Steelers history. .

truckstoppornpatron
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Post by truckstoppornpatron » Sat Mar 28, 2020 9:52 pm

I know Haley didn't play. But how would you compare him to Fitch, playing from behind padded stats excluded?

Jobu
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Post by Jobu » Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:23 pm

"My number one priority – the direction given to me by Mike – was to change the way Ben played the game. They wanted to prolong his career and get him away from some of the backyard scrambling style of play that he liked – and was very successful at. So we worked together and evolved his game so he got the ball out faster and let his receivers make plays."
I can’t begin to explain how ridiculously stupid this shit is. Yeah...let’s break him of the style that makes him a successful QB. The style that brought this organization two more titles.
This is like the Rats telling Lamar to stay in the pocket when his first read isn’t there, or Belichick having Brady run the read option. Coaching them out of what they do best!
I don’t blame Haley for this, this was Tomlin. And of course, the dunce A2.
They didn’t protect Ben better due to scheme...you can’t scheme away injury and the violence out of the game. They protected Ben better because they upgraded the talent in front of him. I’m betting Haley had nothing to do with that.
Haley sucked at the job...that’s why he’s coaching high school ball now.

Kodiak
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Post by Kodiak » Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:29 pm

Jobu wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:23 pm
"My number one priority – the direction given to me by Mike – was to change the way Ben played the game. They wanted to prolong his career and get him away from some of the backyard scrambling style of play that he liked – and was very successful at. So we worked together and evolved his game so he got the ball out faster and let his receivers make plays."
I can’t begin to explain how ridiculously stupid this shit is. Yeah...let’s break him of the style that makes him a successful QB. The style that brought this organization two more titles.
I disagree. As Ben has gotten older, he's generally missed less games (degenerative elbow issue aside). He is now one of the fastest at getting rid of the ball.

He doesn't have quite the same ability to escape and shrug off sacks any more. And I disagree that he's lost the sandlot ability - he's just a lot smarter about when to do it.

What's actually held Ben back is Tomlin's inability to abandon attrition football. I'm not very optimistic because after last season I think Tomlin will double-down on attrition football, and I expect some revision to the mean from this defense.
-----------------------------------------------------------------------
Ben comes back, Tomlin doesn't = CHAMPIONSHIP!!!

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RemoAZ
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Post by RemoAZ » Sun Mar 29, 2020 12:36 am

Kodiak wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:29 pm
Jobu wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:23 pm
"My number one priority – the direction given to me by Mike – was to change the way Ben played the game. They wanted to prolong his career and get him away from some of the backyard scrambling style of play that he liked – and was very successful at. So we worked together and evolved his game so he got the ball out faster and let his receivers make plays."
I can’t begin to explain how ridiculously stupid this shit is. Yeah...let’s break him of the style that makes him a successful QB. The style that brought this organization two more titles.
I disagree. As Ben has gotten older, he's generally missed less games (degenerative elbow issue aside). He is now one of the fastest at getting rid of the ball.

He doesn't have quite the same ability to escape and shrug off sacks any more. And I disagree that he's lost the sandlot ability - he's just a lot smarter about when to do it.

What's actually held Ben back is Tomlin's inability to abandon attrition football. I'm not very optimistic because after last season I think Tomlin will double-down on attrition football, and I expect some revision to the mean from this defense.
Agree with this 100%. Ben's style now with a better game plan and play calling would make a huge difference even with the way the offense has less playmakers now. When we here can predict the play call with a fairly reliable success rate, imagine how easy it is for the D coordinator.

Ben going back to running around trying to wait for a deep throw to open up would be suicide for him and the offense. He's way too old and slow for that now. All he'd be is a huge target and take even bigger hits than he used to. Until he was knocked out of the game anyway which wouldn't take long.
Howard Griffith had to resort to chop-blocking him during the 1997 AFC Championship Game. An incredulous Kirkland asked Griffith, “Why do you have to use cheap tactics like chop-blocking?” Griffith replied “Why do you have to be a 300-pound linebacker?”

truckstoppornpatron
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Post by truckstoppornpatron » Sun Mar 29, 2020 1:35 am

Jobu wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:23 pm
"My number one priority – the direction given to me by Mike – was to change the way Ben played the game. They wanted to prolong his career and get him away from some of the backyard scrambling style of play that he liked – and was very successful at. So we worked together and evolved his game so he got the ball out faster and let his receivers make plays."
I can’t begin to explain how ridiculously stupid this shit is. Yeah...let’s break him of the style that makes him a successful QB. The style that brought this organization two more titles.
This is like the Rats telling Lamar to stay in the pocket when his first read isn’t there, or Belichick having Brady run the read option. Coaching them out of what they do best!
I don’t blame Haley for this, this was Tomlin. And of course, the dunce A2.
They didn’t protect Ben better due to scheme...you can’t scheme away injury and the violence out of the game. They protected Ben better because they upgraded the talent in front of him. I’m betting Haley had nothing to do with that.
Haley sucked at the job...that’s why he’s coaching high school ball now.
The motherfucker is approaching 40 years of age now. You can't take the same beatings at 40 that you could at 20, even if you are are a highly conditioned athlete like ole Roth.

Jobu
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Post by Jobu » Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:12 am

I’m not talking right now...obviously at the ripe old age of 38, he can’t do what he did several years ago.
But when Haley was brought in, he was still young enough, and mobile enough to continue playing to his strength. He was shoehorned into a style that didn’t suit him.
Someone said a good while back, that with Ben you take that bad with the good. That’s so true, but the good far outweighed the bad. You can also say that about Favre obviously, but guys like Tarkenton, Kelly, and even Bradshaw were great because of their “backyard” ability. Hell, even Mahomes has a similar style, albeit much flashier.
Again I blame Tomlin and A2 more than Haley, but forcing Ben to play a style that he obviously didn’t like, wasted far too many of his prime years...and ain’t nothing gonna convince me otherwise.

stinger8
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Post by stinger8 » Sun Mar 29, 2020 3:11 pm

Jobu wrote:
Sun Mar 29, 2020 2:12 am
I’m not talking right now...obviously at the ripe old age of 38, he can’t do what he did several years ago.
But when Haley was brought in, he was still young enough, and mobile enough to continue playing to his strength. He was shoehorned into a style that didn’t suit him.
Someone said a good while back, that with Ben you take that bad with the good. That’s so true, but the good far outweighed the bad. You can also say that about Favre obviously, but guys like Tarkenton, Kelly, and even Bradshaw were great because of their “backyard” ability. Hell, even Mahomes has a similar style, albeit much flashier.
Again I blame Tomlin and A2 more than Haley, but forcing Ben to play a style that he obviously didn’t like, wasted far too many of his prime years...and ain’t nothing gonna convince me otherwise.
If they did not change his playing style back then he may not be playing right now due to wear and tear from continual punishment. It was the right thing to do to lengthen his career. It was mandated from upstairs (my opinion) and I agree whole heartedly.

VeritasSteel
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Post by VeritasSteel » Sun Mar 29, 2020 9:06 pm

Jobu wrote:
Sat Mar 28, 2020 11:23 pm
I can’t begin to explain how ridiculously stupid this shit is. Yeah...let’s break him of the style that makes him a successful QB. The style that brought this organization two more titles.
This is like the Rats telling Lamar to stay in the pocket when his first read isn’t there, or Belichick having Brady run the read option. Coaching them out of what they do best!
I don’t blame Haley for this, this was Tomlin. And of course, the dunce A2.
They didn’t protect Ben better due to scheme...you can’t scheme away injury and the violence out of the game. They protected Ben better because they upgraded the talent in front of him. I’m betting Haley had nothing to do with that.
Haley sucked at the job...that’s why he’s coaching high school ball now.
All you have to do is look at the QBs Arians has had since he left Pittsburgh and most of them had to end their careers after getting hurt. He couldn't keep a QB healthy in Arizona because his line sucked and he refused to adjust. Which was happening in Pittsburgh.

This wasn't about changing Ben's style but to cut down on the improvisational stuff that got to be a habit when first downs and touchdowns were there if he just took the time to look. You can't build an offense around "go do something spectacular on every play" Ravens found out about that in the playoffs two years in a row and we did too. If you go back and look at it most of the plays where he was getting hurt were on chase downs after he broke the pocket. Most of his sacks were him holding the ball waiting on his guy and not just throwing the ball away and living to fight another play.

For all of Arian's innovation, we rarely had check-downs built into the offense to accommodate the blitzes that Ben was seeing that late in his career. When Haley came into the picture Ben became a bonafide QB from the neck up, not just some streetball improvisational savant. Ben will never admit it but Haley (at the direction of the HC and GM) extended his career and made him a better QB. My only gripe with Haley is he didn't know how to manage late-game play calling. Some of that could have been Ben checking out of things, but who knows?

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