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A single tweet which embodies Steelers fans’ frustrations with the Todd Haley offense

There was plenty not to like about Todd Haley’s play-calling, but his 3rd-and-short calls were possibly the most frustrating.

NFL: Baltimore Ravens at Pittsburgh Steelers Mark Konezny-USA TODAY Sports

I think it’s a safe assumption to suggest the vast majority of Pittsburgh Steelers fans didn’t like Todd Haley, or his offense. Whether it was his first year, when “FIRE HALEY” signs were seen all over the Heinz Field crowd, or his off-field escapades which saw him in the news for all the wrong reasons.

It was a rocky road for Haley, but his play-calling in specific situations might have been what truly angered fans the most. And his play-calling on third downs might trump them all when it comes to head scratching aspects of the Cleveland Browns’ current offensive coordinator.

Pro Football Focus (PFF) put out this tweet on Tuesday which illustrates one of the many reasons fans aren’t upset Haley is now elsewhere.

While 3rd-and-10 or fewer is the sample size, it would be even worse to show 3rd-and-short data. We all know, on many of those 3rd-and-1 situations, Ben Roethlisberger would drop back and fire it deep to Antonio Brown along the sideline — only to have it fall incomplete.

Fans would collectively put their hands over their heads and just say one word:


It’s worth noting the team did connect on several of those third-down calls, including three times in the team’s playoff loss to Jacksonville. But there were far more which ended up in a Jordan Berry punt than those moving the chains for first downs.

When you think about it more generally, Haley’s 3rd-down calls — not just when throwing it deep — might have been his most notorious characteristic while in Pittsburgh. Speaking only for myself, I immediately think of the two 3rd-and-short jet sweep pitches to Le’Veon Bell in the playoff game which netted nothing but negative yards.

Whether it be bubble screens, sweeps or deep throws, I don’t want to imply that all of this falls on Haley’s shoulders. I realize most of you were not fond of Haley, but not every 3rd-and-short call was on him. Often, if Ben Roethlisberger saw a one-on-one matchup on the outside which he felt he could exploit, he’d take a shot.

Like the graphic above states, it’s a risk or a gamble. Whether you cash in on that gamble is another story altogether, but the Steelers under Haley loved to push the envelope on third downs. This is one of the many aspects of Randy Fichtner taking over as coordinator which will be interesting to watch. Does he take a more conservative approach in specific game situations, or let Roethlisberger continue to air it out?

Guess we’ll all have to wait-and-see...