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Roethlisberger Reserving Opinion On Haley... For Now
Todd Haley has been hired as the Steelers new offensive coordinator. He's met with his new colleagues on head coach Mike Tomlin's staff and members of the Steelers front office, and he finally met with the media Thursday.

But according to Pittsburgh Post-Gazette staffer Ed Bouchette, Haley still has not talked to the man who makes that offense go, and they likely won't meet until next week.

"I haven't talked to him," quarterback Ben Roethlisberger told Bouchette on Thursday morning at the Steelers training facility an hour before Tomlin introduced Haley as his new offensive coordinator.

According to Bouchette, Roethlisberger is eager to do so and anxious about what Haley wants to do with the offense.

Roethlisberger also has done some research of his own.

"I've gotten a lot of calls and texts and emails from people around the league, both good and bad about him," Roethlisberger said in an interview with Bouchette. "Everybody has an opinion, as we all know, and they're letting me know what their interaction with him was -- good, bad and indifferent. I've heard a lot of things and I'm looking forward to meeting him and forming my own opinion."

Roethlisberger admitted he was "shocked" when he learned Bruce Arians was not offered a contract renewal as offensive coordinator. He said Tomlin had kept him in the "loop" about his search for Arians' replacement, although he had no input into who that would be.

Of course, it's not completely clear that Tomlin had as much input into it as he might have liked. So it's worth noting Tomlin, who wasn't expected to speak Thursday as the Steelers introduced Haley, ended up speaking after all.

"Needless to say, we're extremely excited" about hiring Haley, Tomlin said. He didn't take questions or say a lot more about the direction of the offense.

"We find pleasure in being something of a mystery," Tomlin said.

In case you missed it, Tomlin (and Roethlisberger) wanted to retain Arians. The Steelers and Tomlin never denied these reports. Two weeks later, the Steelers forced Arians to "retire." Arians quickly found work with the Colts.

As's Mike Florio noted, there is a strongly held belief in Pittsburgh that the Rooney family forced Tomlin to get rid of Arians.

There is also some belief the Steelers forced Tomlin to hire Haley instead of an in-house candidate. Ron Cook of the Post-Gazette raised the question in a column for Thursday's paper. Florio also heard chatter at the Super Bowl that Tomlin didn't want to hire Haley.

Whatever the case, Roethlisberger is clearly anxious about what offense Haley might run -- whether he will chuck the Steelers playbook that has evolved from Mike Mularkey to Ken Whisenhunt to Arians in favor of his own, whether he will maintain the Steelers offense, or whether there will be some type of meshing of the two.

Haley was not definitive about his offensive plans at his news conference, just that he would "start with a clean slate."

"It would probably be easy for him to do," Roethlisberger said about Haley possibly introducing a new offense to the Steelers. "I don't know if it would be easy for us to learn it. We're so young on offense and the most-talented room in this whole building is probably wide receiver, no disrespect to anyone else. And they're also really young.

"They're still the tip of the iceberg in this offense and they did as well as they did last year. And they're just getting to the point that 'OK, this makes sense to me.'

"That was my biggest talking point to Mike and those guys -- I would hate to just throw everything out and start over because I feel it would set us back two or three years because these guys are just starting to get it.

"I hope we don't have to start over and, if we do, you know what, here we go. Let's do it. We'll do it. We're not going to complain about it. But I would hate to have to set certain guys back who are doing so well right now."

Those certain guys would included his receiving corps: Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.

Roethlisberger has remained in town and has been working out at the Steelers facility. He had hoped to see Steelers president Art Rooney II Thursday, but Rooney was not there. Roethlisberger wants to talk to him about his opinions about the offense and the quarterback, including Rooney's statement that Roethlisberger needs to tweak his game.

Roethlisberger said people misinterpreted his comments from the Pro Bowl that he wanted to talk to Rooney about such things.

"People made such a big deal because they thought I was going to go in an uproar -- 'What do you mean?' -- it's going in and asking questions."

Roethlisberger told Bouchette such questions might include: "What do you mean by tweak my game, tweak the offense? As one of the oldest guys on offense, what do you see for our offense, where do you see us going, what do you want us to do?

"Things like that," Roethlisberger explained, "because, when guys on the team come and ask me questions, I want to be able to have answers for them instead of, 'I don't know.'

"If I can go in and talk as one of the older guys and one of the captains and leaders on this team, I feel that's my duty every year."

Roethlisberger and Tomlin talked after Arians' firing. Roethlisberger's first reaction was "shock, surprise."

Needless to say, as he will with Rooney, Roethlisberger will have questions for Haley when he finally gets to meet him: "What is your thought for me, what is your thought for this offense, the direction you want to go, are you changing the offense, are you not changing the offense?"

At first, Roethlisberger thought it was strange that the Steelers would hire someone known for his pass-heavy offense in Arizona. Like many, he was unaware that Haley coached the NFL's No. 1 rushing offense in Kansas City in 2010.

"Maybe it's about personnel, maybe he does it off of who he has -- does he have a running team, a passing team? I know in Arizona he had some unbelievable weapons. Maybe it's just about who he has."

Haley told reporters during his introductory press conference that the Steelers offense he will run will do whatever is necessary to win.

If that means throwing the ball like he did when he was the offensive coordinator with the Arizona Cardinals, fine. If that means running the ball like he did in 2 1/2 seasons as coach of the Kansas City Chiefs, that's fine, too.

For his part, Haley does not seem the least bit worried about working with Roethlisberger. Nor is Haley concerned the two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback might be resistant to some of the changes in the offense.

"Transition will always be, I don't want to say difficult, because I don't know how we could determine that right now; it's just starting," Haley said. "There is an uncomfortable aspect to newness, but that's not always a bad thing. I think it will be a great thing in this case. I am sure [Roethlisberger] will figure out we are trying to make him as good as he can possibly be. Not many players that I know of have ever had an issue with that."

As Post-Gazette staffer Gerry Dulac pointed out, Haley was brought in to help an offense that had a 4,000-yard quarterback and two 1,000-yard receivers score more points (they ranked 21st in the NFL in 2011).

"There's a lot of talk about systems, offense and defense, and I believe you do what gives you the best chance to succeed," Haley said. "If the best chance to succeed is running 63 times a game, you run 63 times a game.

"I am going to do what gives our players the chance to be the best they can possibly be because, generally, when that is occurring, you are doing well enough. I am not a statistics guy as far as end-of-the-year stats, but I want to protect the football and score points."

Dulac went on to remind readers that Haley has a reputation as a coach who is not afraid to get in a player's face and scream at him -- a tag that followed him from Arizona to Kansas City. But he is not worried it will have an adverse effect on his players, even Roethlisberger.

"One of the first things I will say to these guys is we aren't going to be into a lot of sensitivity," Haley said. "If you are sensitive, this is probably not the best place to be. But I have to adhere to it, too. I dish it out, but I have to take it."

Of course, Haley's willingness to forego sensitivity can lead to drama at times. And as we've all seen, Roethlisberger has a flair for the dramatic.

So in the end, as Florio suggested, the hiring Haley could be the best thing for the Steelers -- even if Tomlin and Roethlisberger don't like the idea right now.

"It's going to be definitely different for us," Roethlisberger told Cook. "The powers that be make decisions and we live with it and go with it. We'll just have to see where we go from here."

If nothing else, it's going to be very interesting to follow along with their interactions. Stay tuned. I'll follow up as needed.