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Thread: Exclusive Todd Haley interview

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    Exclusive Todd Haley interview

    Exclusive with Former Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley, 2012-2017
    POSTED ON MARCH 21, 2020
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    First off, tell us whats going on with you now and whats next?

    Well Im at a crossroads. Its been 26 years of coaching and Im 52 now. Ive been afforded some time while Im still under contract to think about whats next and to make up some lost time with my family. Ive watched more soccer and golf games lately than I had over the last 20 years. My parents are in Orlando and they arent doing so great so its good to be close to them too. So, its 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 Im 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. Id 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 wed 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, theyd 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 hed 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 hed have the wives and kids come to the team and wed 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 hadnt 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 didnt 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 its overblown. I have a lot of good friends everywhere Ive coached! Keyshawn, Kurt Warner, Larry Fitzgerald are all good friends. Im not a players 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 dont think I was much different than any other successful coach. A good example is the Boldin blowup in Arizona, I wasnt 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 hes 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 Ive 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 didnt know Mike {Tomlin} at all. But I had a friend who gave me Mikes number and I cold-called him. I was at the Senior Bowl on someone elses 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 didnt 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 dads old roommate and met with them again. I made it clear it wasnt 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. Wed 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 didnt 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 teams 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 wasnt the same defense of years before. Thats how Ben and I came up with the We need to score 30 points a game. quote. Mike and I met every week and wed go over how many point wed need to score that week sometimes it was just As many as we can!

    I just think that wherever Ive been Ive taken what Ive been given and used it to the best I could. In Arizona we didnt have a great run blocking line and Edgerrin James wasnt 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 wasnt 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 its a testament to the Steelers and everyone there. Everything changes though. Sometimes, its 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 didnt 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 dont like it so much!

    There are a number of young quarterbacks I think youll see around for a long time that are fun to watch. Its the evolution of the league. Its hard now to find fullbacks in the NFL because colleges havent used them as much. Inline blocking tight ends are making a comeback but they were hard to find for a while. I think its 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 didnt 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. Theyd take a step back 10 yards after every throw. By the time they were done they were throwing 90 yard passes to each other. Ive never seen anything like it since how strong their arms were. And Joes was better than Terrys!

    https://steelerstakeaways.com/exclus...ley-2012-2017/

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  2. #2
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    That's a great read, thanks for sharing.

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    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.
    Well there goes the conspiracy theory that the Steelers front office signed Haley...

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  4. #4
    Quote Originally Posted by antdrewjosh View Post
    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.
    I don't know if Haley will ever get enough credit in upgrading Ben's style of play. We always hear about Bruce Arians being the "quarterback whisperer" even though that isn't the case. His style of offense makes for exciting plays, but you also know your QB is going to get beat up from all of the hits he will be taking.

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  5. #5
    Softball questions should have went right into "What is the best Swingers Club, in Pittsburgh". JK good article.

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  6. #6
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    bruce was the won that was getting ben killed with a subpar OL and those rollouts and 7 step haley got him on the brady 3 step pistol and quick throws to the RB and slants.
    I think haley did a lot of great things the jags game hard to say I think we win that he would still be here the D was just awful that game and 1 adjustment was made.

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    Quote Originally Posted by scstillerfan View Post
    That's a great read, thanks for sharing.
    Yes, thanks for sharing.
    "Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche

    "We need to invent technology thats never even been invented yet. - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

  8. #8
    Quote Originally Posted by F83 View Post
    bruce was the won that was getting ben killed with a subpar OL and those rollouts and 7 step haley got him on the brady 3 step pistol and quick throws to the RB and slants.
    I think haley did a lot of great things the jags game hard to say I think we win that he would still be here the D was just awful that game and 1 adjustment was made.
    To some extent this is remembering your crazy bitch girlfriend better than she was. For sure they did some things and put up some numbers. But there was a lot of bullshit with him and things rather bottomed out. I think he is downplaying his and Ben's relationship souring. If everything was rolling and going great, he would still be in Pitt.

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    Quote Originally Posted by SteelerSask View Post
    But there was a lot of bullshit with him and things rather bottomed out. I think he is downplaying his and Ben's relationship souring.
    There's absolutely no doubt about it. Ben with Haley = I'm considering retirement. Ben without Haley = I can play for three more years. And wasn't Haley in the booth his final season w/ Fichtner acting as the buffer between the two? I could be wrong there.

    I'm sure Haley getting in trouble in that bar didn't do him any favors either.
    "Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche

    "We need to invent technology thats never even been invented yet. - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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    The thing is Hailey is no longer there and I'm not so sure we got a better OC out of the deal. Promoting friends usually isn't the ticket and by last year's inability to change things up and help out struggling players, our current OC proved we need and up grade. NOT Todd but an outside the organization would be the way to go. Fitchner needs help and our deficient Xs n Os coach can't help him.





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  11. #11
    I agree about Fichtner. Personally I'm not sure if there is much of anyone on this coaching staff with real chops. That said considering how long it took for Haley to get shit canned in Cleveland I think the issues go far deeper than play selection.

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    great, great read. .

    ....aw hell, ya know what?? coach Haley....come on back!!!! *ducks rotten tomatoes*

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drink IRON City View Post
    The thing is Hailey is no longer there and I'm not so sure we got a better OC out of the deal. Promoting friends usually isn't the ticket and by last year's inability to change things up and help out struggling players, our current OC proved we need and up grade. NOT Todd but an outside the organization would be the way to go. Fitchner needs help and our deficient Xs n Os coach can't help him.





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    I'm way more excited about adding the QB coach. He does IMHO what is the greatest thing you can do as an offensive coach. Run multiple plays out of the same allignment, plus he loves presnap motion and used a ton of it when he coordinated.

    Never understood why we never worked any roll outs into Ben's arsenal. He's John Elway and patterned his game off it it. Plus he's super accurate on the move. Roll that fucker out every once in a while to slow down that damn pass rush.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Cope View Post
    I'm way more excited about adding the QB coach. He does IMHO what is the greatest thing you can do as an offensive coach. Run multiple plays out of the same allignment, plus he loves presnap motion and used a ton of it when he coordinated.

    Never understood why we never worked any roll outs into Ben's arsenal. He's John Elway and patterned his game off it it. Plus he's super accurate on the move. Roll that fucker out every once in a while to slow down that damn pass rush.



    TOTALLY agree Cope but it's yet to be seen how much influence Fitchner will allow. I think the QB coach would make a better OC than Randy but sometimes it's not what you know but who you know...........

    The roill out and add in the "actual screen pass" ARE TWO PLAYS THAT THE STEELERS HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO RUN for quite some time. I could never figure that out as to why....... I realize the do a screen but it never seems to be set up or executed properly.

    Use motion to slow that rush some.





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  15. #15
    Bout the most I ever heard was Haley basically admitting they could run screen. So it points to Ben. But he is a big guy who is pretty f'n athletic and played some basketball. Kinda hard to believe that wouldn't work. Never understood. I've seen junior high school run a good screen.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Drink IRON City View Post
    TOTALLY agree Cope but it's yet to be seen how much influence Fitchner will allow. I think the QB coach would make a better OC than Randy but sometimes it's not what you know but who you know...........

    The roill out and add in the "actual screen pass" ARE TWO PLAYS THAT THE STEELERS HAVEN'T BEEN ABLE TO RUN for quite some time. I could never figure that out as to why....... I realize the do a screen but it never seems to be set up or executed properly.

    Use motion to slow that rush some.





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    The one thing I like about Fichtner, is his ability to utilize personnel to an advantage over the defense he's going up against. Problem was, last year, the injuries got to great to make personnel changes, and we have to keep trotting out the 3rd or 4th best person at that postion, because they are the only ones healthy enough to play.

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    You're right Cope and I don't give enough excuse due to the injuries BUT there were a hell of a lot of them and RANDY's hand were tied somewhat due to that. It's the innovation part that concerned me. He trotted the same players out and the same formation and the same near play call that the defense could tee off just on Personel package. Regardless, somehow someway you've got to figure out how to change it up. The DEFENSE was dictating to Fitchner instead of Fitchner dictating for to them. That alone was the MOST probmatic problem the offense had aside from injury. Maybe I'm way off but aren't the back-ups capable of knowing more plays.....?

    I knoiw back up talent can't execute to the degree of starters but that's where you have to change things up to better fit the Personel you have instead of just calling "STARTER" plays for back ups to execute.





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  18. #18
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    Quote Originally Posted by Drink IRON City View Post
    You're right Cope and I don't give enough excuse due to the injuries BUT there were a hell of a lot of them and RANDY's hand were tied somewhat due to that. It's the innovation part that concerned me. He trotted the same players out and the same formation and the same near play call that the defense could tee off just on Personel package. Regardless, somehow someway you've got to figure out how to change it up. The DEFENSE was dictating to Fitchner instead of Fitchner dictating for to them. That alone was the MOST probmatic problem the offense had aside from injury. Maybe I'm way off but aren't the back-ups capable of knowing more plays.....?

    I knoiw back up talent can't execute to the degree of starters but that's where you have to change things up to better fit the Personel you have instead of just calling "STARTER" plays for back ups to execute.





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    I'm with you DIC, i was hoping for more movement pre snap, and even moving our QBs in the pocket to offset the heavy pass rush. Never happened.

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  19. #19
    Very good read! Especially liked the 70s Steeler stories - esp. about Lambert. I have one though its probably not very interesting to anyone but me. In 1976 I was flying back to school for winter term out west and my Dad took me to the Airport and the Steelers were there getting ready to fly down to Miami for the Super Bowl against the Cowgirls. This of course was before they switched to Charter flights so they were all standing in line checking in for their flight. I noticed Jack Ham standing off by himself against the wall so I went up and shook his hand and wished him luck of course. He was very quiet but thanked me. We were early for my flight (my Dad always liked to get to places early) so we went to the coffee shop for breakfast and we sat at the counter next to Lambert who was plowing through a plate of eggs, bacon etc. It was obvious he DID NOT want his breakfast interrupted so I didn't say anything and as a long haired college kid I remember feeling very intimidated just being in his presence. It was a thrill though and I'll never forget it.

    I also enjoyed the "Jefferson Street Joe" Gilliam reminiscence. What a talent. And what a waste that his career was derailed by drugs. Many don't realize how the Rooneys and Chuck Noll were so ahead of their time in giving black QBs a chance in the league.

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  20. #20
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    Great little story Muddler, as a college kid I probably would have been scared shitless to say anything to Lambert as well. Hell, probably even as an adult. Was he grunting while eating? Lol.

    And I never knew too much about Joe Gilliam, that's a shame, and what a rocket of an arm he had.
    "Madness is the exception in individuals but the rule in groups" - Nietzsche

    "We need to invent technology thats never even been invented yet. - Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez

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