Steelers OC Todd Haley feels 2012 problems were a matter of trust

USA TODAY Sports

Todd Haley's offense was not well received by fans last season, why should people expect anything better? Because a year makes a lot of difference for a good coach.

"Night and day" was how Todd Haley described the difference between how he was interacting with the players about adjustments to his offensive scheme. That also may be the difference in how the offense could operate in 2013 compared to 2012.

This time last year, sports media outlets were reporting about the working relationship between offensive coordinator Todd Haley and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger as one would expect TMZ to cover a relationship between Justin Bieber and Paris Hilton. Every little exchange that could possibly be observed as the premeditation of a spat between the two became a focus for news story. Much was made about how Haley stuck with his offensive scheme terminology despite objections by Roethlisberger.

While the offense did sputter after Ben Roethlisberger's midseason injury, many of the issues that were talked about last year are non-existent for the offense. Haley describes these problems to be tied to "trust issues" that come with first encounters between professionals when meshing football philosophies, which is a very reasonable explanation to a lot of what Haley depicts to be "growing pains" from 2012.

Even as Roethlisberger was having a great first half of the season in 2012, Haley still was learning what about his offensive system was best working with the strengths presented by the two-time Super Bowl champion quarterback. He makes a point of how his review of last season allowed him to better understand what his players bring to the field and how he can trust Roethlisberger to make adjustments to the offense.

Some of Roethlisberger's suggestions were to reduce the playbook and focus on execution of different plays in the offense. Haley now is more receptive of Roethlisberger's perspective this year because of the built-up trust factor between them. That can go a long way in how the offense can click midseason when the two start to be more on the same page.

What wasn't talked about enough last year was the fact that Haley wasn't coming into a broken situation like he did with Kansas City. In 2011, the Steelers were 12-4 and were an overtime gaffe away from a divisional playoff game appearance. Haley inherited arguably the fastest receiver in the league, one of the NFL's most reliable tight ends, a two-time Pro Bowl center and one of only two active starting quarterbacks in the league with multiple Super Bowl rings. That's not like having inheriting Matt Cassell and the Chiefs' offense (which he took to the playoffs).

Haley's approach that wasn't initially too receptive of Roethlisberger's input was understandable, although probably detrimental in hindsight, but now he's shown that those growing pains of two professionals fighting to see eye-to-eye, being a thing of the past. Now with a better understanding of the offense and better relationships with the team's offensive leaders and weapons, Haley may show a full season of what the offense can do in Pittsburgh.

Take note that I said, "the offense" rather than "his offense," because all appearances acknowledge the notion that he has begun to accept the Pittsburgh offensive scheme can be all-inclusive with the input of its proven leaders.

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