Get used to Todd Haley.
He’s the most-criticized man in western Pennsylvania right now, which is no surprise, since he’s been coordinating a Steelers offense that has scored 19 points — two touchdowns — in two games. Fans and media have honed in on him as the reason the Steelers are living in the same neighborhood as the Cleveland Browns and Jacksonville Jaguars two weeks into the season.
Talk-show callers and tweeters have already started clamoring for him to be fired.
Remember Ray Sherman in 1998 and Kevin Gilbride in 1999 and 2000? The last time the Steelers descended into hell? Neither was fired in the middle of the season. And neither was the son of a guy who played a major role in transforming Dan Rooney’s team from a laughingstock to a dynasty.
Nothing short of getting into a hockey fight with Ben Roethlisberger on the sidelines is going to get this guy fired. It’s not the way the Rooneys do things. They will give Haley a chance to show what he can do with a second full season. Two games without either an NFL-quality running back or a tight end isn’t enough of a sample. Last season, things were going pretty well until Roethlisberger was injured.
Haley’s going to get a chance to dink and dunk his way out of this.
• Of course, if Rooney does lose his patience, he always has the option of calling up Bruce Arians and convincing him to come out of retirement.
• The Steelers have lost seven of their last nine regular-season games. That’s their worst stretch since they went 2-7 at the end of the 1999 season.
They are 8-11 in their last 19 non-exhibition games, and the last time they beat a good team, Charlie Batch was the quarterback.
• I have a feeling they’re going to be 0-3 after the Bears are finished with them.
• The Browns shook up the football world when they traded running back Trent Richardson, their No. 1 draft pick in 2012, to the Indianapolis Colts. NFL teams just don’t make major trades on Wednesdays in September, and they sure don’t trade No. 1 picks in their second year.
Most people interpreted the move as the Browns giving up, but that doesn’t take into account that Richardson has been nothing special and the guy they signed to replace him, 32-year old Willis McGahee, might be able to provide as much or more this season. Richardson averaged 3.4 yards per carry in two games for the Browns this season after averaging 3.5 in 2012. Unless McGahee is totally shot, he can match or surpass that.
Richardson might look a lot better than he is. He looks like a beast when he runs, but it doesn’t result in much. He has two runs over 20 yards. That’s only two more than you have. It’s also the second fewest since 2012 for any back with more than 200 carries.
The Browns are, as usual, under new management. They’ve seen enough of Richardson and believe he’s easily replaced. Maybe he’ll flourish in Indianapolis, but the Browns are perfectly capable of stinking without him.
Now it’s up to the new management team to show it can draft better than the previous groups. They’ll have seven picks in the first four rounds.
• On Thursday, the Steelers’ veteran players had a meeting and decided to make it against the rules for any of the younger players to play Ping-Pong in the locker room. That’ll fix ’em up.
• The top tickets for the Super Bowl in New Jersey in February are $2,600. How would you like to pay that for the privilege of sitting in 15-degree weather for four hours? Of course, if you pay that kind of money for a football game that will be played in New Jersey in February, you deserve whatever you get.
Here’s hoping they get the Blizzard of 2013. Dolphins vs. Chargers would be nice.
• How does a guy who says, “My key is how the Steelers offensive line do in protecting Ben Roethlisberger,” get a job on primetime network TV? Ask ESPN. They hired Ray Lewis.
• Would Dick Haley have looked a little smarter last Monday night if he had A.J Green, Gio Bernard and the Bengals’ two tight ends on the sideline with him?
• As bad as the Steelers have been, you can be sure that Steelers-Bears will get four times the TV ratings that Pirates-Reds gets.
• Since 1990, has a Penguins training camp received less attention than this one?
• The last four times the Steelers started 0-2, they finished with a winning record.
• It’s early, but Upper St. Clair’s Doug Whaley, the general manager of the Buffalo Bills, is looking pretty smart for drafting quarterback E.J. Manuel in the first round.
• Alex Smith, in his last 17 starts at quarterback for the 49ers and the Chiefs, is 14-3 with 24 touchdowns and five interceptions.
Dink. Dunk. Win.