Ha­ley is look­ing for­ward to chal­lenge

The News Herald (Willoughby, OH) - - Sports - By Jeff Schudel jschudel@news-her­ald.com @jsproin­sider on Twit­ter

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

six years.

“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.

THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS FILE

Todd Ha­ley is start­ing anew as of­fen­sive co­or­di­na­tor of the win­less Browns.

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