Offensive coordinator Todd Haley's combative, in-your-face style concerned plenty of folks in Pittsburgh, especially since the man he replaced, Bruce Arians, was tight with the franchise quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. And while Haley and Big Ben had their ups and downs in 2012, it was hard to argue with the results through nine games: The Steelers were 6-3, Roethlisberger threw for 17 touchdowns vs. 4 interceptions, he had a passer rating near 100, and people were talking about him as a legitimate MVP candidate.
But an injury against the Chiefs ended all that, and the Steelers limped to an 8-8 finish. And now, nine months later, they still haven't recovered. They're 0-2, the offense is anemic, and at least one player is unhappy with his role in the ineptitude. Details via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette's Ed Bouchette.
"Wide receiver Antonio Brown confronted Haley (on the sidelines during the Monday night game against Cincinnati)," Bouchette wrote Wednesday. "Brown angrily complained to the coach that not enough pass plays were called for him, several sources told the Post-Gazette.
"Specifics of the argument were hard to come by but sources say that Haley was upset by Brown's actions and that the two were still seething about it Tuesday. Brown's complaint to Haley was harsh enough and the reaction to it along the sideline volatile to the point that many people there noticed, although it was not shown nor apparently caught on camera by anyone, including ESPN, which broadcast the game."
Make of this what you will, but Haley has a history of getting into it with his players, and he doesn't discriminate. Targets include pain in the asses like Terrell Owens and boy scouts like Kurt Warner.
Whatever happened, the point remains: Brown, the Steelers' most explosive player, wants an opportunity to show that, you know, he's the team's most explosive player. We get that. But this offense has so many problems, that meeting Browns' needs probably don't rank particularly high on the to-do list.
We talked about it in the latest Coach Killers, but it's worth repeating here: You could have Sid Gillman drawing up plays and the results would be the same: One of the worst running games you've ever seen, wide receivers that struggle to get open, an offensive line that can't block and an unimaginable number of three-and-outs.
Interestingly, Brown was one of Haley's biggest proponents when he was hired in March 2012.
"I heard [Haley] challenges players … and I love that," Brown said at the time. "You don't allow guys to underachieve. And you find that with most players in this league, there are a lot of underachievers, so he's the type of guy who pushes players and that's something I enjoy. ... We're definitely looking forward to Todd Haley … and we're just excited for the fresh start."