Moments after finishing his introductory press conference, new Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley ran into a familiar face coming down the hall, just outside the room that is home to the team’s six Lombardi Trophies.
It was Joe Greene, Steelers Hall of Famer and now a member of the player personnel department.
Haley has fond memories of Greene, ones that began when he was a ball boy for the team back in the 1970s. It was a time when Haley was thrilled to be among some of the greatest players to wear a Steelers uniform, when they were winning four of those Super Bowl trophies and his father Dick was the team’s director of player personnel.
For Haley, joining the Steelers coaching staff is about football first and foremost. But it’s about something else too. It’s about coming home to where his love of football began. It’s about family.
“I want to let everybody in this room know just how genuinely excited I am to be part of the Pittsburgh Steelers family,” said Haley. “I say family because that is what I know it as. All of my early memories in life somehow revolved around the Steelers. My earliest memory was watching the Immaculate Reception. Those things have stayed with me and are a big part of who and what I am.
“I am very grateful Coach (Mike) Tomlin and the Rooney family thought enough of me to have me here to help be a part of continued greatness. In my mind it’s the greatest organization in the NFL and the greatest team. That all comes from the heart. I am excited I am here now, working amongst the coaches and getting to know them and the players. I had to prepare for the Steelers last year. Now, it’s a little different. I am just trying to use up every second that I have to move forward and have some fun.”
Haley hasn’t had an opportunity yet to meet with quarterback
But the one thing on everyone’s mind at the press conference was what his offensive philosophy will be with the Steelers. He indicated that the best practice is not to necessarily come in and try to implement a whole new system, but instead work with the pieces that are already in place to make it succeed.
“We are going to do as a group what we see fit that gives us the best possible chance to succeed,” said Haley. “I have never been a big system guy. We have terminology or a vocabulary that we use and thankfully there is a lot of carry over that we are finding out here as we go through the process. So that is a big positive in my mind. But with that being said, we are going to start from a clean slate and figure out what give us the best possible chance to succeed and score a lot of points.”
While with the Arizona Cardinals as the offensive coordinator Haley’s teams had great success in the passing game with quarterback Kurt Warner and receiver Larry Fitzgerald. As the head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs it was the running game that flourished in 2010 with back Jamaal Charles.
“I am just a believer offensively that you do what gives you the best chance to succeed,” he said. “So if your best chance to succeed is to run the ball 63 times a game, then you run the ball 63 times a game. I am going to do what gives our players the chance to be the best they can possibly be because generally when that is occurring, you are doing well. I am not a statistics guy as far as end of the year stats, but I want to protect the football and score points.”
The Steelers are a team that has seen the passing game flourish over the last few years, with some looking for more emphasis on the running game as well. For Haley the emphasis isn’t about run or pass, it’s much bigger.
“Emphasis on winning,” said Haley. “There is a very high expectation here in the city of Pittsburgh. I grew up here. I understand what is expected from the fans and the city of Pittsburgh. The Steelers are just such a great part of this town and that is where my excitement is, to come back and be a part of this great tradition, and not be part of it in an average sense.
“We have one goal and that is very clear. We want to win as many games as we can, and play in those big games that we just had to sit and watch, which isn’t a lot of fun.”
And hopefully, add to the Lombardi Trophies, but this time his name being on one of them instead of his father’s.