When Jerome Bettis retired after Super Bowl XL, he was immediately snapped up by NBC to be a featured analyst on their flagship Sunday Night Football franchise. The Peacock was so invested in the Bus, they even gave him a bit part in the underrated TV series Chuck in a bid for cross-promotion. Unfortunately, Bettis isn’t an arrogant, self-serving loudmouth like Shannon Sharpe, Keyshawn Johnson, or Rodney Harrison so he quickly found himself unemployed. Because no ex-athlete stays unemployed for long, ESPN recently announced that the Bus was coming aboard the Four Letter to make the occasional appearance on NFL Live and Sportscenter.
The only memorable moment during Bettis’s entire tenure at NBC was revealing that Bill Cowher had also intended to retire following the Pittsburgh Steelers‘ fifth Super Bowl victory. That comment raised a lot of ire amongst the Black and Gold, who like to keep their secrets in-house. Well, looks like the even more secretive Mike Tomlin regime has their very own Edward Snowden to deal with.
Retired quarterback Charlie Batch is working as an analyst on the Steelers’ radio pregame show. And like any good analyst, he decided to reveal state secrets. A couple days ago, Batch revealed that offensive coordinator Todd Haley wouldn’t allow Ben Roethlisberger to call audibles last season.
Well, that explains the draw plays against eight man fronts or 5 yard outs on third and long.
The local talk show scene blew up over this information as the only thing a Yinzer likes to bitch about more than their starting quarterback is their offensive coordinator. “How dare Haley prevent the future Hall of Famer (yeah, right…) from calling plays!” “Who is Todd Haley to handcuff a two time Super Bowl winning quarterback!?”
First of all, Boss Todd was only following orders. The Steelers canned Bruce Arians precisely because he allowed Ben too much freedom. By his own admission, Ben got to call a large percentage of his own plays during the Arians Nation and, like any other quarterback, usually called pass plays. Which is why our offense during those years was known as the Flying Circus.
Haley was brought in to reign Ben in. He was brought her to re-establish Stiller Football, meaning a better balance between run and pass. These are things Steeler Nation were vociferously in favor of when Arians was here. Given the current state of the roster, they’re things we should be even more in support of now.
The funniest part is people all of a sudden talking about Ben like he’s the unholy love child of Joe Montana and John Elway. Ben is a physically gifted quarterback. Ben is a great improvisational quarterback (perhaps the best ever). But Ben is not a smart quarterback. He’s not Tom Brady. The reason he holds on to the ball forever or has a cheatsheet longer than President Obama’s State of the Union address on his wristband is because Ben is not and has never been a cerebral quarterback.
Yes, he should be trusted to audible in certain situations. However, under no circumstances should he be given total freedom to change the play at his own volition. That’s a surefire recipe for disaster.
The irony of Batch’s revelation is that the news comes in the midst of a veritable love-fest between Big Ben and Boss Todd. Reports are they’ve grown closer over OTAs and training camp, bonding over of all things “Shark Week.” I don’t expect them to ever be as close as Ben and Arians were but the concerns over “hotheaded” Todd Haley causing dissension and strife seem to be forgotten. Or they will be, as soon as Batch learns to keep things to himself.