The AFC North never fails to entertain. The Steelers and Browns created quite the story in the weeks before the Super Bowl. The Steelers let Todd Haley go after the Steelers lost in the Divisional Round of the playoffs to the Jaguars. Now, at first glance, you may wonder why a team would fire their offensive coordinator after the offense scored 42 points, but still lost.
That is because Ben Roethlisberger and Haley reportedly didn’t get along. To the point where Roethlisberger supposedly asked for a buffer between them.
Haley was originally brought in 2012 to help Roethlisberger get the ball out earlier by installing an offense that was designed to throw the ball quickly. This was a drastic change from the offense that Roethlisberger was use to where he held onto the ball for forever waiting for receivers to get open.
In the eight seasons before Haley came in, Roethlisberger threw for over 20 touchdowns three times, including only one 30 touchdown season. In the six years with Haley, Roethlisberger has thrown for over 20 touchdowns every single season.
Haley brought the Steelers into the future with an offense that wasn’t based around the power run game. He was often criticized, especially early, by the Steelers’ fan base. Haley isn’t the best offensive coordinator, but he is a competent guy. That is why the Browns quickly picked up Haley for the same position.
Haley is dealing with quite the downgrade in talent going to Cleveland. He is leaving behind a Roethlisberger, Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown-led offense for a team that will probably be drafting a quarterback first overall.
They do have players like Josh Gordon and Duke Johnson Jr. to build around. They also have an incredible offensive line. It will be interesting to see what Haley does with this offense that isn’t completely devoid of talent. He will have to find a way to highlight what talent they do have.
It is even more interesting that, apparently, Haley will takeover play-calling duties from Hue Jackson. It must be surprising for Bengals fans to learn that after we saw Jackson call plays for one of the most successful offenses in recent Bengals’ history. Still, his offenses have struggled in Cleveland. In his first year, it would’ve been too much to be successful after moneyball came i and gutted the team, but last season they should’ve been better than 0-16.
Now, that the Browns have gotten rid of moneyball and added John Dorsey changes seem to be coming quickly. This move really shows that Dorsey isn’t committed to Jackson long term, which makes sense after a 1-31 record over his first two seasons. Whether Haley will be able to run the system he ran in Pittsburgh or Jackson’s system will be something to look for as well.
The AFC North is always poaching off each other, and this is the latest example. We will see how it impacts these teams next season. Will the Steelers take a step back somehow? Will the Browns be able to win two games? These are the compelling story lines you can expect from this division next season.