ESPN 'On The Clock': Haley Takes Care Of the Peripheral Things on Offense

PITTSBURGH - OCTOBER 17: Ben Roethlisberger #7 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates a second quarter touchdown pass with Mike Wallace and Rashard Mendenhall while playing the Cleveland Browns on October 17 2010 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh Pennsylvania. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)

ESPN's On The Clock segment, hosted by analysts Trent Dilfer, Chris Mortensen and Mel Kiper, discussed the dynamic of Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley.

While it may not have been earth-shattering and breaking news, each of them did make some interesting points.

Mortensen, in particular, brought up Haley's brightest star, Kurt Warner.

He referred to Roethlisberger and Haley's working relationship as being one of the more intriguing stories of the 2012 season (behind Tim Tebow and the Jets...as if there's another story in the league than that...ahem).

"I go back to when Todd Haley was calling the offense for the Arizona Cardinals," Mortensen said.

"And I thought that him and Kurt Warner may not get along. And Kurt told me they did butt heads, but in the end Kurt appreciated Todd Haley because Todd took care of all the peripheral things, all the mess with the wide receivers or with the offensive line, even managing the coaching staff, and ended up taking a load off Kurt Warner so Kurt could play his best football."

I admit I didn't feel Haley was the best candidate for the position, but obviously that's over and done with. Mortensen does make a valid point; tyrannical dictatorships are not exclusive to one person. If Haley is riding Roethlisberger to the point of head-butting like he mentioned in reference to Haley and Warner, Haley's likely to be doing the same thing with the rest of the offense; something Dilfer mentions as well.

After saying he agrees with Mortensen, Dilfer continued, "So many times the quarterback gets burdened to handle too much peripheral stuff. When he can just focus on doing his job, his job becomes a lot easier. And the one thing Todd Haley does - yes, he's a confrontational guy, he does not avoid conflict - but he makes everybody in that unit better and accountable. And this offensive line (emphasis) has to become more accountable. They gotta protect better, they gotta block better in the run game, they gotta be more productive."

Accountability is an interesting thing when it comes to professional sports. It's true, every player has to be held accountable to their performance, but accountability in the corporate world is typically reserved for concepts like providing an outstanding customer experience or meeting deadlines.

RG Ramon Foster can be held accountable for showing up to meetings on time and being ready to practice and play. How can he be held accountable for not having the elite-level ability of, say, Carl Nicks?

The spirit may be willing, but maybe the flesh is weak. Therein lies the real challenge for Haley the manager. A basic premise of football is out-executing the guy across from you. Much of that lies in preparation and willingness to fight as hard as you can every play of every game. I'm not trying to bash Foster, but there will be games where he's giving up quite a bit in terms of sheer talent. Haley's real challenge is lessening that disadvantage, and putting each player - not just Ben Roethlisberger - in a position to succeed.

Kiper does his best to segue as smoothly as possible to point out his projects the Steelers drafting Alabama LB Dont'a Hightower with the 24th pick in the NFL Draft, but it seems a bit out of place.

Dilfer re-directs the conversation back to Haley and the offense.

"And I don't want people to say, 'well, Todd Haley's gonna come into Pittsburgh, and it's gonna be ground-and-pound. We're goin' back to the old Steeler Way.' Todd Haley understands you call offense to get the ball in your best players' hands. It's gonna be in Ben's hands. It's gonna be in Antonio Brown's hands. It's gonna be in Mike Wallace's hands, and if Mendenhall comes back healthy, it's gonna be in his hands."

That's a lot of hands, which is a blessing for a talented personnel manager, and a curse for one who's not so talented. Dilfer summarizes it all nicely at the end.

"Todd Haley knows how to coach offense, and Todd Haley knows how to call offense, and I think because of that, you're gonna see a Pittsburgh Steelers offense that may even get better under Todd Haley, and Ben's gonna be a happy guy."

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