Antonio Brown, Todd Haley at odds so far this season

Todd Haley and Antonio Brown had words during the Bengals game. (USATSI)

The sideline argument between Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley and receiver Antonio Brown, though not captured by television cameras Monday night, was very heated. It was the cause of considerable concern for some in the organization and did not come as a surprise to many Steelers.

The relationship between Haley and Brown has always been poor, according to several aware of the situation (“they’ve never gotten along,” one source put it), and given the combustible nature of their personalities, more fireworks could be ahead with the offense slumping badly in the first two defeats of the season. Should the Steelers falter again Sunday night against Chicago, there could be more incidents, and sources said other players besides Brown were at least on the periphery when Brown unleashed his diatribe on the coach, and may have joined in.

Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger’s strained relationship with Haley drew plenty of headlines last season, but things have actually been more volatile with Brown. Roethlisberger and Haley spend considerable time together during training camp and their dynamic had changed for the better, but with Pittsburgh unable to run or pass in the early part of the season, there is concern within that the Roethlisberger/Haley relationship could fray once more as well.

Roethlisberger’s timing with his receivers has been poor, and several of the pass catchers are upset they are not seeing more of the ball. The team is hopeful that with tight end Heath Miller and running back Le’Veon Bell on the mend that some progress is ahead, but that’s far from certain at this point. The offensive line is struggling, Roethlisberger’s footwork has suffered,  and he’s held the ball too long again at times.

Coach Mike Tomlin, who has been hesitant to use some rookies early in the past, has a staff that hasn’t had rookie receiver Markus Wheaton on the field as much as some expected, and if these problems continue to fester more drastic measures might not be all that far off. Tomlin was likely to have promoted running backs coach Kirby Wilson to coordinator in 2012 had he not suffered severe injuries in a fire, and ended up hiring Haley, who was let go as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs.

CBS Sports Insider

Before joining CBS Sports, Jason La Canfora was the Washington Redskins beat writer for The Washington Post for six years and served as NFL Network's insider. The Baltimore native can be seen every Sunday... Full Bio

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