Haley is looking forward to challenge
Todd Haley says he likes challenges, and it’s good that he does because the Browns’ new offensive coordinator is taking over the offense that finished last in the NFL in scoring in 2017.
Haley spent the past six seasons as offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, who finished in the top 10 in offense each of the past four years. After being eliminated by the Jaguars in a wild-card playoff game, however, the Steelers chose not to renew his contract.
“I’m looking forward, not backward,” Haley said Feb. 14 during a news conference in Berea. “This is a really exciting challenge and I think it would be really great to be part of helping turn this great organization around with a rich, rich history.”
Haley’s father, Dick, was a former Steelers cornerback and their director of player personnel from 1971 to 1990. But if you’re wondering whether Todd Haley, 50, has any lingering loyalty to the Steelers — forget about it.
“I always want to beat whoever we’re playing,” said Haley, who has also coached with the Jets, Bears, Cowboys, Cardinals and Chiefs. “We had Steelers stuff stocked up for six years and people are amazed that when you go somewhere else, you put it in a box and see who wants it.
“Having grown up in Pittsburgh, I hated the Browns, but I liked a bunch of players a lot. Sam Rutigliano (former Browns coach) befriended me years ago, and I get excited every time I get a little
note from him because on the front it’s him and (former Browns quarterback) Brian Sipe.”
Haley was non-committal when asked to evaluate quarterback DeShone Kizer, plus wide receivers Josh Gordon and Corey Coleman.
“I’m in the process of doing that,” Haley said. “I don’t want to speak too early on anything, and it is a process, so I’m just going to respect that.”
Haley did say one thing that will be music to the ears of Browns fans, and it comes as no surprise: The Browns will run the ball with Haley calling plays.
“You have to run the ball, and the key is, you have to run the ball when the other team knows you’re going to run it,” Haley said. “As far as an overall philosophy, I’ll do whatever gives us the best chance to win and I think you saw that over the past
“There were games we threw it 45 times to win and games we ran it 35 times to win. Whatever gives us the best chance to win, that’s what we’ll do. If we need to make adjustments, we’ll make adjustments.”
The Browns were 18th in rushing yardage (1,714) in 2017, but only 27th in rushing attempts (384). They didn’t rush more often for two reasons: They were playing from behind most of the season and the pass offense did not scare opponents, so defenses were able to overplay the run.
Haley’s offense contains terminology the players will have to learn, but since a different quarterback will likely run the team, that shouldn’t be a huge setback.
Haley had Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback, Le’Veon Bell as his running back and Antonio Brown as his primary receiver
with the Steelers. Those players remain in Pittsburgh. He believes, however, he will help turn around the culture in Berea without the Killer B’s so vital to the Steelers’ success.
“I’ve been in that situation multiple times and, really, you’ve got to just rely on your beliefs and the way that you’ve been taught through the years,” Haley said. “But it’s come out: Work hard, make sure the players understand you’re giving them a chance to succeed and, if you do that, there’s generally a pretty good response. Teach them how to play smart football, because, obviously, there were a lot of close games last year here and if you can turn those in your direction, you’ll start to create the kind of culture you’re looking for.”
The Browns are 1-31 over the last two seasons. Haley is definitely facing a challenge.
Todd Haley is starting anew as offensive coordinator of the winless Browns.