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NFL head coaching candidates: An owner may make a run at Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley

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While many Steelers fans have called for offensive coordinator Todd Haley to be fired, offensive-minded owners may not share the same perspective.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Offensive coordinator Todd Haley has seemingly been public enemy No. 1 ever since he came to Pittsburgh in 2012. Whether it is the endless bubble screens or predictable play calling, fans always seem to be upset at Haley for something.

But after a season in which the Steelers will likely have broken the franchise's 35-year-old mark of 416 points scored, and the rise of their Big Three offensive players - quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le'Veon Bell - owners looking for an offensive-minded head coach after Black Monday may want to kick Haley's tires, instead of his head.

As it happens every year, there will be a handful of head-coaching positions open following Week 17. The likes of San Francisco's Jim Harbaugh, Denver's Adam Gase, and Seattle's Dan Quinn lead the list of current coordinators who could become a head coach for another NFL franchise. While these names continue to be passed around NFL circles, one man who could make his return to head-coaching who hasn't been talked about: Todd Haley.

The Steelers' offensive line had perhaps its best day ever in pass protection in Week 8 vs. the Colts.

Many of the potential candidates for coaching vacancies this January will be offensive or defensive coordinators with a fairly strong track record. Both Gase and Quinn have coordinated units that ranked in the top five the past two seasons, offensively for Gase and defensively for Quinn.

With coaches such as Gase and Quinn being considered, Haley's track record makes him at the very least a potential candidate on many franchises' minds.

In his third season as the Steelers offensive coordinator, Haley has implemented what the Rooney's and Mike Tomlin hoped he might do when he brought him in. He has resurrected Pittsburgh's running game while keeping quarterback Ben Roethlisberger from getting constantly hit and beat up.

As the Steelers offensive coordinator this season, he has changed the identity of the Steelers from a defensive team to a high powered offense the Steel City hasn't seen since the days of Terry Bradshaw, Lynn Swann and John Stallworth.

It took Haley two years to fully implement his system. In 2012, the Steelers offense ranked 21st overall and improved to just 20th overall in 2013. But in 2014, the Steelers sit as the second best offense in yards-per-game with 415.4 as they head into their Week 17 AFC North division championship game.

He took a mid-range Steelers passing attack, ranked 12th and 14th in yards-per-game the past two seasons, to an elite passing attack, currently ranked second overall. Ben Roethlisberger is 365 yards away from 5,000 yards, a feet never accomplished by a Steelers passer. Haley who is also a former wide receivers coach, took Antonio Brown from a solid receiver to arguably the best in the game as Brown has 122 receptions for 1,570 yards heading into Week 17, both Steelers records.

Not to mention 2014 Steelers MVP running back Le'Veon Bell has over 2,000 yards from scrimmage and was voted to his first Pro Bowl in just his second season.

A large part of the Steelers dominance on offense falls on Roethlisberger, Brown, Bell, and wide receiver Martavis Bryant. But, Haley has coordinated an offense that is the first in NFL history to have a 4,500 yard passer, 1,500 yard receiver and 1,300 yard rusher.

Haley wasn't largely seen as a head coaching success from his brief stint with the Chiefs because of the way it ended with his firing before the 2011 season ended. Yet he did coach his team to a division title in 2010 with the less-than-serviceable Matt Cassel at the helm.

While his first two seasons in Pittsburgh weren't spectacular, Haley's system is clicking with the Steelers in 2014. From what he has accomplished this season, Haley has legitimized his candidacy for becoming a head coach once again.

#FireHaley is often a favorite for Steelers to use on Twitter. But with what he has done with the Steelers offense in 2014, firing the third-year offensive coordinator might not even be an option for the Steelers as he could very well be the head coach of an NFL franchise next season.