PITTSBURGH -- Todd Haley talked earlier this week about the good-cop/bad-cop dynamic that takes place when coaches are trying to, ahem, accelerate the development of younger players.
The obvious follow-up question -- where does Haley fall in those two designations? -- evoked a smile from the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator.
“I generally end up getting described as the bad cop on the outside but everybody in here loves me,” Haley said.
Haley, a lightning rod for criticism as the Steelers stumbled through consecutive 8-8 seasons, should finally start getting some love outside of team headquarters.
The Steelers are the first team in NFL history with a 4,500-yard passer, a 1,500-yard receiver and 1,300-yard rusher in the same season -- and they still have one game left to play
The trio of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell is the biggest reason why the Steelers have already clinched a postseason berth and can secure the No. 3 seed in the AFC playoffs Sunday night if they beat the Cincinnati Bengals at Heinz Field.
Offense has been the driving force behind the Steelers’ resurgence and Pittsburgh is on pace to set teams records for most points per game and most yards per game in a season.
The Steelers are averaging 27.3 points per game and are second in the NFL with 415.4 yards per game.
Haley, who was Arizona's offensive coordinator in 2008 when the Cardinals rode the trio of quarterback Kurt Warner and wide receivers Larry Fitzgerald and Anquan Boldin to the Super Bowl, said this is the most balanced offense he has been around since he was with the New York Jets in 1998.
Quarterback Vinny Testaverde, running back Curtis Martin and wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson all ranked among the NFL’s statistical leaders at their respective positions in 1998. The Jets finished fifth in scoring that season (26.0 points per game) and made it to the AFC Championship Game where they lost to the eventual Super Bowl-champion Denver Broncos.
“It’s been a long time since 1998 to feel like, ‘Hey this feels like that,’” said Haley, who coached the wide receivers when he was with the Jets. “That’s a good thing because that [balance] is what we’re all kind of hunting for.”