Heads needed to roll after the Pittsburgh Steelers lost to the Jacksonville Jaguars during Sunday’s playoff game, and it fell on the man making the play calls.
According to a report from NFL Insider Ian Rapoport, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley will not return to the team next season. Haley’s contract was up at the end of this year, and the Steelers seem to content to let him walk.
Rapoport also reported that quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner is the favorite to replace Haley as OC. Fichtner has been with the team since 2007, taking the QB coach position in 2010.
Haley was the Kansas City Chiefs head coach for three seasons, getting fired before the end of the 2011 season. He had a 19-26 record with KC, winning the AFC West with a 10-6 record in his second season.
He was hired as the Steelers OC in 2012. The move made a ton of sense at the time. Haley grew up in the Pittsburgh area, and his father worked as the team’s personnel director for a number of years.
His first two seasons with the team were shaky. The Steelers ranked 21st and 20th overall in total offense, struggling mightily in the rushing attack (26th and tied for 27th, respectively). However, when Le’Veon Bell became the full-time starter at running back in 2014, the offense exploded, finishing 2nd, 3rd, 7th and 3rd again in the next four years.
On the downside though, Haley’s playcalling has long been considered erratic by Steelers fans, and it came to a head on Sunday, where they failed to convert two key 4th-and-short situations. Despite having the NFL‘s heaviest QB in Ben Roethlisberger, Haley opted to eschew QB sneaks in favor of an outside pitch and a play action pass, both of which failed. Roethlisberger had to bail the offense out with touchdown passes on two other 4th-down tries as well.
In spite of all that, Haley has enough experience and success to find another job in the league. The Steelers offense is talented enough to be productive with any coordinator, and the familiarity with Fichtner should help smooth things out. They will need to retain Bell this offseason before he hits unrestricted free agency, however.