Don't even know what to say right now. Hines Ward was the ultimate Steeler. He leads the franchise in everything football-catching related by a lot.
Can't say we didn't see it coming. We'll have a better look back on Hines' career in the coming days.
Much has been made in the last few weeks about the relationship between Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and new offensive coordinator Todd Haley. There's been an awkward back and forth in the media and it took Haley several weeks to even get in touch with the superstar quarterback.
We have a few sources within the Steelers organization who provided us with an exclusive video of the pair's first meeting that took place in the team's cafeteria. After debating whether or not to publish the footage, we decided to go ahead.
Here's the excusive footage of the first meeting between Ben Roethlisberger and Todd Haley (NSFW):
Sean's Ramblings always puts together a really well-orchestrated tournament of the best and brightest Pittsburgh sports blogs. It is always an honor just to take part in the competition with so many great bloggers out there representing the city.
Last year, we made a cinderella run to the Elite 8 and it was a pretty neat thing to see. I'm not big on self-promotion but here's the link to go over and vote in the tournament.
We're paired up against Black Shoe Diaries, an outstanding Penn State blog that is a daily read of mine. Be sure to support all of our Bloguin friends as well.
By the way, I'm still in my post season recovery phase and can't quite get worked up enough over the Todd Haley/Ben Roethlisberger thing to blog about it.
The NFL Network is reporting that the Steelers plan to cut longtime WR Hines Ward. It is definitely not unexpected news, but considering he is the greatest wide receiver in franchise history it is still strange and sad.
Ward's release doesn't mean he won't be back with the Steelers in 2012. It is more to get the Steelers off the hook for the $4 million he was owed in 2012. The Steelers currently sit around $10 million over the cap and cutting Ward is a no-brainer. No NFL team would pay him $4 million next year and his only chance of returning to Pittsburgh is on a restructured deal.
Personally, I don't see any reason for Ward to come back to Pittsburgh. He knows he is the 4th wide receiver here at best and the Steelers don't really benefit from having a slow, possibly unhappy 36 year old coming onto the field in 4-WR sets.
My guess is Ward will land somewhere as a 3rd receiver and probably catch a couple touchdowns in 2012, but his era his over in Pittsburgh. As I wrote during the season, the youth movement has arrived and this team should be defined by the Young Money Family.
The long, frustrating end to Ward's time in Pittsburgh shouldn't take away from his career at all though. He is hands down the greatest receiver in Steelers history and few athletes have ever carried the attitude and persona of a city like Hines Ward has for Pittsburgh. I wish him the best and while I knew this day was coming, it is still a little bit sad knowing that Hines Ward (reportedly) is no longer a Pittsburgh Steeler.
Here's one of my favorite clips of Ward. This is from the 2008 AFC Championship Game and shows the grit, leadership and skill that 86 brought to Pittsburgh:
Ward posted this to his Facebook page:
I don't normally like to respond to rumors, but as I've said all along, I want to finish my career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. And as I've already told the organization, I am willing to work with them to restructure my contract to make sure this happens.
The Steelers have cut veteran special teamers Bryant McFadden and Arnaz Battle. McFadden was making about $2.5 million, Battle about $1 million.
Honestly, it was easy to forget McFadden was still on the team this past year. Battle was a replaceable special teamer. These aren't blockbuster moves, but they're the official start of roster changes for the offseason.
We will never forget the pass-defense in the end zone on Reggie Wayne in the '05 playoffs. Without that play, Jerome Bettis kills himself.
Notice that the title of this article is not "Why did Mike Tomlin hire Todd Haley." Tomlin didn't. If this were Tomlin's decision, Bruce Arians would still be in town. No, this decision appears to have been made by Art Rooney II.
Rooney has stated multiple times that he wants the Steelers to run the ball more. Bruce Arians probably cocked his head to the side, said "but we have a great quarterback and one of the most talented young groups on receivers in the league," and then was shown the door.
Roethlisberger wanted to keep Arians. Tomlin wanted to keep Arians. Rooney is the one who wanted Arians gone, and he's the one signing the paychecks, so he cna make that decision.
Which brings us to Todd Haley.
No one believes Mike Tomlin wanted Todd Haley. If he had to find a replacement for Arians, he would definitely have promoted from within. The players would have wanted it. The fact that they went outside the organization says that Art Rooney doesn't trust the current coaching staff to handle the offense.
But why trust Todd Haley? If Rooney wants a better ground attack, don't bring in a guy known for his prolific passing offenses. The Great Seth Rorabaugh of the Post Gazette broke down Haley's offenses since 2007. He very heavily favors the pass, even in Kansas City where he didn't have the talent Arizona had. [PG+]
Dejan Kovacevic broke down everything that doesn't make sense about this hire in his Wednesday column. Don't read it if you want to be assured that Todd Haley is a stable personality who will instantly fit in on Tomlin's staff. Kovacevic raises the very unsettling question: How is Mike Tomlin not going to hate this guy? Haley is hotheaded, animated, and notably vulgar.
Even worse, compare Todd Haley and Dick LeBeau. They'll be going against each other in practice. LeBeau is known as "Coach Dad." Haley clashes with his star players often enough that one might see him as "Coach Dad with an alcohol problem." LeBeau has probably never uttered a curse word in his life. The top million Google Image results for Todd Haley are gifs of him swearing at players, coaches, and referees (and one of him being punched by Bill Parcells!)
There are enough positives to look at in the hiring of Haley. Maybe he'll see the talent we have in the passing game and, like Arians, ignore Rooney's meatheaded demand to run the ball more. Maybe he'll develop a good relationship with his players and fellow coaches. It isn't impossible.
Above all, maybe he'll have success and even win a championship in Pittsburgh. If he guides a championship-caliber offense to a Superbowl win at any point, everyone's fears will be put to rest.
I mean, it's not like Bruce Arians ever could have done that, right?
It's being widely reported that former Kansas City head coach and Pittsburgh native Todd Haley will be named offensive coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers. Haley most recently served as head coach of the Chiefs from 2009 to 2011 before being fired in December after posting a 19-26 record during his head coaching tenure.
Haley has a strong connection to the city of Pittsburgh which certainly helped him at least get his foot in the door. His father, Dick Haley, was the Steelers director of player personnel for 19 years and Haley graduated from Upper St Clair high school. He was also a ball boy for the Steelers. I don't buy into the notion that somebody has to be a "Pittsburgh guy" to coach here, but the Rooney's definitely know him and his family well and I don't think that hurt his chances of being hired.
Here's a look at how offenses have fared under Haley. He was the OC of the Cardinals in 2007-2008 prior to becoming the Chiefs head coach. Haley called the plays on-and-off while head coach at Kansas City.
|Year||Team||%Run||Rush Rank||%Pass||Passing Rank||Overall Rank|
|2009||Kansas City Chiefs||45%||11||55%||25||25|
|2010||Kansas City Chiefs||53.9%||1||46.1%||30||12|
|2011||Kansas City Chiefs||49.3%||15||50.7%||25||27|
A few things stick out when looking at these numbers:
Haley's two best seasons involved completely different strategies. 2008 and 2010 were both great years for him despite one being insanely pass heavy (2008 with Kurt Warner) and one being dominated by a rushing attack (2010 with Jamaal Charles and Thomas Jones). He has adapted to the strengths of the roster every year.
That makes this stint with the Steelers interesting for him. The Steelers obvious strength is the passing game. They have an elite QB, 2 young, Pro Bowl-caliber receivers and running backs/tight ends who are solid, if not spectacular in the passing game. The team lacks a great running back and offensive line. Yet the Steelers ownership has expressed the desire to rush the ball more.
With the Rooney's making their "run the ball more" mandate so public, Haley has to be willing to answer if he's been given the job. The playcalling balance will be very interesting to watch for sure.
Final thoughts: Personally, I like the hire. It's a very un-Steeler like move for a couple of reasons. Haley is known for being a bit hot headed and doesn't seem to fit the Steelers mold of hiring quiet, unassuming assistants that nobody has ever heard of. The Steelers typically stay inside the organization for hires like these as well. I'm glad to see them take a little bit of a risk with this one. The offense could use some fresh ideas and promoting an Arians/Whisenhunt disciple wouldn't have been a very inspired hire. Haley helped developed one of the most explosive offenses in recent memory in Arizona and he has a lot of tools already in place in Pittsburgh to help him do that again. This should be somewhat of a dream job for him and he ought to be very motivated after the way things ended in Kansas City.
REFRESHING DISCLAIMER: This post is not about offensive coordinators.
First thing's first: AHAHAHA NEW ENGLAND SUCKS YOU WILL NEVER WIN A SUPERBOWL WITHOUT ADAM VINATIERI, TOM BRADY IS NOT CLUTCH.
On to business: This offseason is expected to be one full of tough personnel decisions for the front office to make. Longtime stars are getting too old and being replaced by younger talent, the team is well over the salary cap, and the team that takes the field next August may not look very much like the one that has for the better part of the past decade.
First, let's take a look at the players who are free agents this summer: