Ha­ley tunes out noise about of­fense

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette - - Sports -

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.”

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