Friday, February 10, 2012

Rolling the Dice on Todd Haley

The tumbling dice are cast.
The Steelers' roll of the dice on hiring Todd Haley to be their offensive coordinator could pay off big or blow up spectacularly.  We shall see.

Joey Porter's Pit Bulls reserve the right to reserve judgment. Or something. Like. That.

Of course, that didn't stop us from weighing in before the hire, when we wrote the following on Jan. 29 ...

 "Todd Haley? Joey Porter's Pit Bulls aren't crazy about the idea. Haley seems paranoid and unstable, and his reputation is that he doesn't play nice with others, including and maybe especially quarterbacks." 

So, there.  Now that Haley's The Man, however, let's give him the benefit of the doubt.  Give the man a chance.  He said some good things at the introductory news conference. The "best chance to succeed" and all that -- then again, what else would he have said?

It's been tough biting our tongue all week, but Joey Porter's Pit Bulls continue to resist the temptation to indulge in knee-jerk judgment of the decision to hire Todd Haley, and with it, a judgment of Todd Haley himself, the man ... who has yet to don a headset, call a play or even meet with his new team.  Or his quarterback.

Is that weird?  That Haley hasn't met with you-know-who?  Well, maybe a bit odd.

Oh, my. Big Ben doesn't know what to think.
We don't know Haley (what a surprise!), however, and we don't know what went into the Steelers' decision to hire him.  So it's tough to judge the decision to hire him.

... 'shouldn't stop us from jumping in with an opinion, but, after all ...

What do we fans know?  All we know is based on what we hear, see and feel.

Amazingly, we're not in the rooms where the decisions are made; or in the rooms where video is reviewed, and data checked and double-checked; or the other rooms where various job candidates are interviewed or vetted; or the executive offices where behind-the-scenes conversations are held, people-in-the-know consulted; and the deepest, heaviest thinking is done.

We simply don't know what went into the Steelers' decision to hire Todd Haley as the new offensive coordinator.  We'd love to know, but we don't, and it's doubtful we ever will.

If somehow Joey Porter's Pit Bulls had been involved in the decision-making process, would we have hired Haley?  Not having ever met the man, we can't say for sure.  We can say, however, that we would have talked to another candidate or two (besides Gentle Jim Caldwell, and he doesn't count).

Mike Sullivan takes his jiu-jitsu to Tampa Bay.
We'd previously advocated the Steelers at least talk to Mike Sullivan, the New York Giants quarterback coach who worked wonders with Eli Manning -- and now has been hired as the offensive coordinator of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

Sullivan goes from working with Tom Coughlan, a two-time Super Bowl winner, and Eli Manning, a two-time Super Bowl MVP still in his prime, to working with Greg Schiano, an NFL-rookie head coach, and Josh Freeman, a young quarterback still trying to establish himself in the NFL.

We still wish the Steelers would have at least brought Sullivan in for an interview, but ... what do we know?  We're just fans.

For all we know, Haley will be great, and we sincerely hope so.  But we don't know. Nobody knows.

What could possibly go wrong?
What do we know about Haley?

All we know is what we see and hear, and that appears to be a majorly mixed bag of seriously mixed opinions.

We can opine based on what we hear, see and feel. We can speculate. We can read between the lines of every over-scrutinized statement he makes, every phrase, each off-the-cuff, throwaway line, and all the blathered rumors, whispered innuendos and detailed critiques. 

So let's get started.

"If you are sensitive," Haley said in his introductory news conference yesterday, "this is probably not the best place to be."   Okay.  We've been warned.

Let's pray this all works out.
Haley is reputed to be volatile and headstrong, and he almost certainly is.  When things go awry the first time, it should be interesting to observe the dynamic between Haley and Ben Roethlisberger.

Isn't it curious that, in his introductory news conference, Haley singled out Heath Miller, a great player admittedly, and an underutilized one at that, but still, a tight end, but .... but not a word about the franchise quarterback?

Could Ben be Tebowing? Hoping this all works out?
For his part, Ben Roethlisberger seemed to be speaking through clenched teeth -- (well, okay, we're projecting here, and willfully reading between the lines) -- when he told the Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette that ...

"I've gotten a lot of calls and texts and emails from people around the league, both good and bad about him.  Everybody has an opinion, as we all know, and they're letting me know what their interaction with him was -- good, bad and indifferent. I've heard a lot of things and I'm looking forward to meeting him and forming my own opinion."

Uh-huh.  Okay.  Yeaah, ri-i-ight.
Roethlisberger said he had been trying to reach Kurt Warner to talk about Haley, and wouldn't you love to listen in on that conversation?

Even more so, wouldn't you love to eavesdrop on the first substantive talk between Roethlisberger and Haley?

Some fans like the hiring.
For now, forsooth!, we shall withhold judgment on the Haley hiring.  Not that it wouldn't be fun to jump in with knee-jerk reactionary, off-the-cuff, talking-head punditry-type, know-it-all opinions.

It doesn't give pause to other tin-horn experts with microphones and newspaper columns.  Well, speaking up and engaging in vigorous discourse about this sort of thing is half the fun of being a fan.

We hope for the best.

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