The Pittsburgh Steelers choked in a big way this season, the first under offensive Todd Haley.
When listening to ESPN radio, hearing national media personalities talk and reading stories from national sites, it's interesting to see that one of the main things they do is blame Haley for the failures of the Steelers offense.
At the same time, they are praising Bruce Arians, who is working some magic in Indianapolis this year.
It's interesting to hear them say that the team was better off with Arians than Haley. Arians was no offensive genius here. He was good, but not great. At the same time, he was unjustly vilified by fans in Pittsburgh as the problem with the offense. The truth is that the systems implemented by these two men are and were not the problem. The team itself has been the problem.
In his last season with the , Arians' offense scored 20.3 points per game. In Haley's first, with mostly identical talent, the team has averaged 20.8 with a game to go.
While Arians liked to throw downfield more, Haley likes shorter and quicker routes to try and keep Ben Roethlisberger from getting hit too much. Both strategies had their ups and downs. Ben was sacked more than anybody in years with Arians and got hurt a few times. Ben was getting sacked less with Haley and was having an MVP-caliber season at one point, but still got hurt.
There isn't a big difference in production and it's unfair to claim that firing Arians and hiring Haley were mistakes. Haley deserves at least another season before anyone makes that judgment.
Haley had some poor game plans, but he still had the team's offense in position to win eight of the team's nine losses. The offense came up short in all of those with bad sacks, interceptions and poor play. That's not Haley's fault. At some point, professional athletes have to do their jobs.
On the other side of the state, you have Sal Paolantonio telling Philadelphia Eagles fans that Arians would be the perfect fit for the Eagles' head coaching job once Andy Reid is fired at the end of this year.
This is comical to me because Arians is a pass-happy coach and Eagles fans and local media are constantly bitching about Reid's pass-happy ways. So how does he fit as the head coach over here? Arians was fired from Pittsburgh for not running enough.
Arians is doing great things in Indianapolis. But that is a unique situation. That team has been brought together by their coach, Chuck Pagano, having cancer. The team is rallying around the "Chuck Strong" mantra they have developed and having an unlikely run to the playoffs. They also have the most highly touted rookie quarterback since Peyton Manning. Arians would have Nick Foles in Philly.
To me, the Arians love, Haley bashing and Andy Reid love (I didn't dive into this, but the national media claims the Eagles will be sorry they ran him out of town. They don't understand the man has lost this team and needs to move on.) are examples of the national media speaking out of their butts.
They don't follow these teams as closely as the fans who live in these markets do. They see a few games a year and just make statements without diving in to deep to the stats or the film. I don't want to take away from the great things Arians is doing in Indy, but he would not have put the Steelers or the Eagles in the playoffs this year.