After an embarrassing 45-42 home playoff loss to the upstart Jacksonville Jaguars, the Steelers decided to let Todd Haley walk after refusing to renew his contract and went with quarterback coach Randy Fichtner as their new offensive coordinator moving forward.
The Pittsburgh Steelers have had one of the best offensive units in the NFL, ranking in the top 3 of the NFL in yards per play in 4 consecutive seasons with Todd Haley as the OC. Not even a week after being relinquished of his play calling duties from the Pittsburgh Steelers, the fiery 50-year old has quickly found work again. He won’t have to go far, either.
The woeful AFC North rival Cleveland Browns have pounced on the opportunity to reel in the former Pittsburgh play caller Todd Haley. He engaged in talks with new general manager John Dorsey over Conference Championship game weekend, meeting for an extensive period of time on Saturday and ironing out the works of a contract the following days.
The Cleveland Browns’ offense was a tumultuous site to bear last season. Losing star left tackle Joe Thomas didn’t make matters any easier on this unit. They were last in the league in points per game (14.6), ranked in the bottom ten in passing yards (308.6 per game, 24th in the NFL), receiving yards, (3,537 total, 22nd in the NFL) and had the 3rd most dropped passes in the league with 30.
Rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer was in way over his head from Day 1. Yet, it didn’t really transpire until the regular season due to his encouraging play in the preseason. The 21-year old 2nd round draft pick from Notre Dame stumbled and finished the season as inarguably the league’s worst starting quarterback.
He went on to have an awful year, completing only 53% of his passes, 2,894 yards, throwing only 11 touchdown passes and leading the NFL in INT’s thrown with 22 in 15 mainly forgettable starts. He also lost 5 fumbles. His quarterback rating was a paltry 60.5, the absolute worst of NFL starters. Head Coach Hue Jackson often belittled his young starting quarterback and at one point asked himself during a press conference if he would ‘ever get it’.
The Cleveland Browns lack a lot of talent offensively. The QB situation is still not settled. Starting tailback Isaiah Crowell is slated to go in free agency after yet another year of being horribly utilized as far as carries go (206). Joe Thomas is still mulling his immediate future after having surgery on his triceps in October.
However with players like WR Josh Gordon, TE’s David Njoku & Seth Devalve and RB Duke Johnson already in the building and a built in and blatant plan to reel in a big fish free agent quarterback along with other talent as well, Todd Haley could be the guy deemed as the hero that glued the Browns’ spiraling offense back together.
Hue Jackson, Gregg Williams, and Todd Haley is certainly an eccentric and rather interesting blend of personalities within the coaching staff. Todd Haley has had a reputation of rubbing people the wrong way. Which is more than likely what led to his dismissal. He and QB Ben Roethlisberger did not get along well. Not to mention, the Browns recently hired Amos Jones to replace long time special teams coordinator Chris Tabor last week.
This is a solid move for a franchise that is yearning to forge it’s way out of the gutter of the AFC North. With Todd Haley in as the Browns offensive coordinator, they get a solid play caller and a man with a ton of NFL experience, including a Super Bowl appearance (Super Bowl XLIII w/ Arizona) and a much better than Hue Jackson record as a head coach (19-27 with KC). Hella shade thrown. Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner has come out and been a heavy endorser for Haley, stating that he would come out of retirement and play for him again (jokingly, of course. He’s 46.).
The Browns look like they’re finally ready to start winning again. If so, they picked a hell of a winner in Todd Haley. The coaching staff is finally conplete. Now is time to prepare to add more talent to a roster starved for it. Keep your eye on Cleveland next year. It should be compelling.