Former Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, who lost his job despite his offensive schemes powering Pittsburgh to 42 points in the AFC Divisional Round playoff game they lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars, might already have his next job lined up.
Unfortunately for Haley, he might be tabbed to manufacture points in the Factory of Sadness.
The Cleveland Browns — who against all common sense retained head coach Hue Jackson and his 1-31 record over the past two seasons — have expressed interest in Haley’s services to fix their offense, according to ESPN’s Chris Mortensen.
Cleveland is coming off a “perfect” 0-16 season and has lost 41 of its last 43 games. The team was dead-last in scoring offense and 24th in offensive yardage this season, which is the pitiful attack that Haley looks set to inherit.
It’s an interesting move for Cleveland, and it might explain why Jackson kept his job. He previously pulled double duty as head coach and the guy in charge of the offense, the latter role appearing to be something that Jackson will give up next season.
Haley, meanwhile, has a stellar track record running the offense in Pittsburgh. Over the past four seasons, the Steelers are second only to the New England Patriots in scoring offense. Over Haley’s six years in the role, the Steelers are third in the league in yards per play.
Then again, the Steelers also have Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell. The Browns have no one even close to those players.
Haley comes with the recommendation of Hall of Fame quarterback Kurt Warner, who spoke highly of the man who guided the offense of the Arizona Cardinals when Haley and Warner advanced to Super Bowl XLIII in 2009.
It’s always a concern to lose a coach to a team in your own division. Of course, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin knows Haley’s schemes inside and out, and when the Steelers play the Browns twice next season, there should be an awful lot of deja vu in the film room when scouting the Cleveland offense.
Haley is the latest example of a guy who has been a better coordinator than a head coach. Even though he’s been the offensive coordinator for Super Bowl-quality teams, his record as a head coach in Kansas City yielded one playoff appearance and a 19-26 record in three seasons (2009-2011).
Haley is also no stranger to working for terrible teams.
He was Rich Kotite’s offensive coordinator with the Jets during Kotite’s disastrous 4-28 tenure in 1995-96. When the Jets gave Kotite the boot and hired Bill Parcells in 1997, they kept Haley on as the OC. The Jets went from 1-15 under Kotite to 9-7 the following season. A year after that, New York went 12-4 and made the 1998 AFC title game.
Cleveland can only hope for similar success, but they don’t have a coach like Parcells. They have Jackson and their horror show of a defense that was 31st in the NFL in points allowed.
And while Cleveland has two top-four picks in the upcoming draft, this is the same team that drafted Justin Gilbert, DeShone Kizer and Johnny Manziel, leading one to wonder if they shouldn’t just hire Kevin Costner to run their war room.
Will Haley turn the offense around? Will Cleveland end up losing a bunch of games where the offense scores 42 points but the defense gives up 45? Will Cleveland ever draft an All-Pro with all those high first-round picks?
Or is this just going to be the 1995 Jets all over again, where a talented assistant coach watches helplessly as his head coach makes a mess of things?
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