Haley tunes out noise about offense
It’s that kind of relationship.
Haley also professed he has not heard all the yelling going on in Steelers fandom, where the critics of his underperforming offense are growing louder.
“I don’t really listen to it other than when I have to come up here,” Haley told reporters at his weekly postpractice interview, “and then I kind of get a feel for what people are saying — or my daughters are sending me video clips.”
The Steelers rank 19th in the NFL at 20.8 points per game, 10th in both total yards and passing yards. They rank 31st in red-zone touchdown scoring percentage. They rank 18th in thirddown conversion at 37.93 percent. Much more was expected of an offense that has so many stars, including the NFL’s leading receiver and leading rusher.
Haley said he and his players had higher expectations as well. So why haven’t they reached them?
“I think a lot of different reasons,” Haley said. “No. 1, we’ve been playing some really good defenses” including the Jacksonville Jaguars, who did not have that kind of reputation Oct. 8 when the Steelers lost, 30-9, without scoring a touchdown.
“They’re looking like one of the best defenses in the league,” Haley said. “And we’ve got some new guys in the lineup, guys like Vance McDonald, Justin Hunter for a couple weeks’ worth, JuJu [SmithSchuster] is a young guy in the lineup.
“Skills guys who are different or new always take time and there’s a process there with everybody getting on the same page or Ben and those guys getting on the same page. That’s what we’re looking at daily.”
Haley, in his sixth season, has coached offenses that ranked near the top of the league over the past three seasons. In yards they ranked seventh, third and third over the past three seasons; 10th, fourth and seventh in scoring.
“In my 5½ years here, we’ve done some great, great things statistically,” Haley noted. “What we haven’t done is get to the Super Bowl and have a chance to win the game. That really is what all of this is about. That’s the goal.
“We’re sitting here at 7-2. I’ve been 7-2 probably one other time in my entire 21year career, and yet still been to the playoffs 14, 15 years out of those 21. So it’s hard to be 7-2.
“The name of the game is putting ourselves in position to succeed when everything’s on the line, and we’d like to do that at home.”
He expects his offense to perform better in order to help them do that.
“We recognize that we maybe haven’t played to our standards or our expectations, but at the same time we’ve done things to win in critical situations.
“Last week we were down, 17-3, the first time we possessed the ball against Indy in the second half and we were able to put 17 points on the board to win in the second half. Those are good signs.
“At the same time we’re striving each and every week to get better. That’s really what our focus is.”