BEREA (92.3 The Fan) – Todd Haley, hired officially on Jan. 24 after the Steelers chose to let his contract expire, was introduced Wednesday as Hue Jackson’s first offensive coordinator.
But what does the addition of Haley really mean for the Browns?
Believe it or not, quite a lot.
Haley Will Run The Offense – The Browns’ offense will be run by Haley, not Jackson. Contrary to some narratives out there that Jackson is or was unwilling to cede control to a coordinator, it was Jackson – and not general manager John Dorsey – who pursued Haley with the intent of turning over that responsibility.
“My interaction was solely with Hue until I came to visit, but I believe that is a big part of having a chance to be successful in the NFL – that side of the building,” Haley said of Dorsey running the personnel side. “I have known John for a long time, and that obviously, as I said, was one of the reasons that this job really appealed to me.”
Sure, Jackson remains the head coach, which gives him veto power on game days, but Haley will be charged with installing the offense, building offensive game plans and calling plays.
“He wasn’t hesitant at all with me,” Haley said. “We had great conversations right out of the gate. I worked for Ken Whisenhunt in Arizona who had been a play-caller. Those are all just things that you have to deal with in these positions, but I’m excited about it. Like I said, that is another guy that has been around a long time to talk to and to bounce things, ideas and thoughts off of and get information.”
New Playbook – Haley plans to implement his playbook in consultation with Jackson, but his terminology – and not the language used the last 2 years by Jackson – will be used meaning players will have a new offense to learn when the offseason program begins in April. With the Browns coming off an 0-16 season and 1-31 over the last 2 years, Jackson hopes that starting from scratch and challenging young players with a new system, plays and vocabulary will move their development forward and force them to forget mistakes made in his system the last 1-2 years.
“It does take some time because it is a mentality,” Haley said. “I don’t think you sit around and talk about the past. We will be moving forward and trying to figure out ways to win games.”
Tailored System – Haley swore Wednesday that he is “not a system guy” and he
believes in crafting his offense to exploit and take advantage of the strengths of his players.
“I have a language and terminology I have used for a long time that I think works,” Haley said. “The big change really will be that – really just terminology. What I believe in is playing to every player’s strength that you have as best you can. Putting players into position to succeed, playing to their skillset. Wherever I have been, that is what I have really tried to do. Whether I was a position coach, coordinator, head coach, try to put guys in position to succeed.”
That means that, like Jackson, Haley favors a vertical passing game but he also knows how to win with the run. Making sure the locker room believes that they are being put in a position to succeed is a pillar of Haley’s coaching philosophy.
“The players have to believe in you and that you are putting them in the best position to succeed,” Haley said. “Sometimes there are factors outside of your control just from a talent standpoint and things like that. I think if the players you have believe you are getting them better every day, developing their skillset and their ability to play and then putting them in a position to succeed, you will have guys that will start to believe.”
Player Development – One of the core messages Haley delivered during his introductory press conference centered around the importance of developing players.
“You have to develop players in this league,” Haley said. “I brought up Antonio Brown. When I got there, Antonio Brown wasn’t the Antonio Brown everybody knows. There was great development there. In this league, if you don’t develop players, you are probably going to fail.”
For the Browns, who boast the youngest roster in the league and are about to get even younger with 12 more draft picks – including, presumably, one of the top quarterbacks of the class – player development is a critical component heading into 2018.
Player Evaluation – Haley avoided speaking specifically about current players or members of the quarterback draft class on Wednesday in an effort to avoid having to backtrack down the road. He is currently evaluating the existing offensive roster and he will also be involved in the draft evaluation process too – including the quarterbacks.
Coaches are only as good as the players they’re given so the onus will be on Dorsey and the front office to elevate the talent on the team – and quickly – this offseason.
Accepting The Challenge – Considering the Browns’ record-setting losing in recent years combined with the continually spinning quarterback carousel, Jackson’s ability to land Haley was viewed as quite the coup for the Browns.
“I had some options, but this really appealed to me – the challenge aspect of it,” Haley said. “I think there are pieces in place to be successful. I went out to Arizona to be a coordinator, and Arizona had not had much success. A lot of people thought I was crazy for leaving Dallas when I did, but man, when you are a part of turning it around and having success, playing in big games and having success in big games, there is nothing like it. That is what appealed to me – the challenge and the people I was going to be working alongside of.”
Wanting to be here helps. Any competitor worth their salt enjoys the challenge of turning a team around and it sure sounded like Wednesday that Haley is up to the challenge.