Reporting Colin Dunlap
If Steelers Offensive Coordinator Todd Haley were smart, he would unleash quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, let him go no-huddle, chuck that thing all over the yard.
Granted, he might get Roethlisberger put in an ambulance.
Know what else might happen? The Steelers might win a football game in 2013.
The Steelers turned in their second fiercely-underwhelming offensive performance of the season on Monday night, losing to the Bengals in Cincinnati, 20-10, to drop to 0-2.
And, there’s not a whole lot to indicate this team — which has scored 19 points in 120 minutes — is going to get better.
The Steelers, gravely devoid of a running game, have rushed for just 75 yards over the first two weeks, getting beaten, battered and outmuscled most times they attempt to gain anything on the ground.
That’s why it’s time to just scrap it. Put the football in the hands of the player who gives you the best chance to get this ship righted (Roethlisberger), go to a formation where he can shine (the shotgun) and expedite the pace of play with a no-huddle.
How much worse could things get? Really.
“There’s not a lot of positives going on right now,” Roethlisberger said just after losing to the Bengals. “We can’t start doubting each other. Right now, there’s a general feeling of being upset.”
My question, and a simple one: Why can’t Roethlisberger start doubting the offensive coordinator?
Why can’t the quarterback who has an 87-41 regular season record and has won two Super Bowls doubt the offensive coordinator?
Especially this offensive coordinator.
And especially this quarterback.
Why can’t Roethlisberger start to doubt Haley, a man who never played any football in his life, had a 19-26 record in his time as a head coach in Kansas City and has commanded the once-potent Steelers’ offense to an 8-10 record under his authority.
On top of that, in the past 10 tries — real or preseason games — Haley has ordered this offense to just one win, a victory over the hapless Browns in the season-finale of 2012.
Again, why can’t the guy who has thrown for almost 200 touchdowns and more than 30,000 yards doubt the guy with a tenure that, curiously, seems to fall in lockstep with the offense taking a nosedive?
Roethlisberger can doubt Haley.
Want to go a step farther? Roethlisberger should doubt Haley.
This isn’t to say the quarterback should do it publicly, come out and crow and screech, complain and grumble to the media.
Instead — if he hasn’t already — it is high time for the quarterback to attempt a power play with head coach Mike Tomlin and/or the upper reaches of management.
Eighteen games of this Haley offense has been enough from this vantage to fully comprehend the direction in which he wants to take it. It appears, from here at least, Haley is about the lone person on the planet who doesn’t understand that Todd Haley has an exclusive quarterback at his disposal; an exclusive quarterback playing in a time that should be his prime.
Haley should be maximizing Roethlisberger, putting him in the shotgun and letting him fling it on seemingly every snap.
Instead, Haley’s insistence of making Roethlisberger and the offense huddle, his insistence of running an end-around to Jerricho Cotchery (the team’s slowest receiver), his insistence of not infusing rookie speedster Markus Wheaton into the gameplan and his insistence of not allowing his star quarterback to throw it more than 37 times in either of the first two games is downright laughable.
Todd Haley doesn’t need to be fired — not yet, at least.
However, Todd Haley needs to understand he has a superstar quarterback and, sooner rather than later, get the heck out of his way.
Colin Dunlap is a featured columnist at CBSPittsburgh.com. He can also be heard weeknights from 10 p.m. to 2 a.m. on Sports Radio 93-7 “The Fan.” You can e-mail him at email@example.com. Check out his bio here.