COMMENTARY | It was no secret that Pittsburgh Steelers' quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was more-than-upset with the organization's decision to part ways with Bruce Arians following the 2011 season. Roethlisberger and Arians had one of the best relationships between QB and OC in the league.
But a struggling offense led Pittsburgh in a different direction. That direction was Todd Haley.
Haley has been known his explosive tendencies. Whether it be getting in the face of the cool, calm and collective Kurt Warner or berating his players on the sidelines, Haley doesn't back down too often.
That pairing led Adam Schein of NFL.com to place the Roethlisberger-Haley pairing as the most combustible relationship in the league today. Schein says, "Both are headstrong individuals. Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin tried to stress positives in Year 1 of this relationship, but frustrations seemingly boiled all season and bubbled over after an overtime loss to the Dallas Cowboys in December. This was hardly a surprise."
Following the loss to the Cowboys, Roethlisberger publicly questioned the play-calling after the no-huddle offense was more or less scrapped and tight end Heath Miller was hardly targeted in the second half.
One can easily see where Schein is coming from. Two headstrong guys don't generally work well unless they're on the same page.
But he is forgetting one major part of the equation. Through the first eight games of the season (before getting hurt in Week 10 against Kansas City) Roethlisberger was an MVP candidate and off to the best start of his career.
During that eight-game span, Roethlisberger threw 16 touchdown passes to just four interceptions and completed over 70-percent of his passes five times. In weeks seven through nine, Ben led the Steelers to road wins over the Giants and Bengals and a home victory over Washington.
After the week 10 injury, it was pretty apparent that Roethlisberger came back too soon and wasn't as effective down the stretch, causing the Steelers to miss the playoffs. But it's hard to ignore what he and Haley put together in their first nine weeks on the job together.
It's understandable to see why Schein put Haley and Roethlisberger atop his list. But in the end, there's one thing that cures all tension in the room. Winning.
The Cowboys comments came at a time in which the Steelers lost four out of five games and basically rode themselves out of the playoffs. For a team and quarterback that have become so accustomed to success, the tension was bound to boil over in that situation.
Personally, I'm not too concerned for the immediate relationship between Haley and Roethlisberger. Haley tends to wear out his welcome in the long run, so four or five years down the road we might be having this conversation. But as of now, Haley may actually be good for Big Ben.
With a suspect offensive line and a quarterback who's never been able to stay upright, Haley's quick-strike offense is a good fit to keep Ben on the field. And keeping Ben on the field is key to the success of the 2013 Steelers.
Again, it's easy to see why Schein listed this duo atop his rankings, but with the Ryan brother still coaching, Jerry Jones still owning and Philadelphia still playing football, there are plenty of other relationships that have just as much a chance of imploding as the one in Pittsburgh.
Keep this in mind as well, Steeler fans. Haley's relationships with his quarterbacks have typically blossomed in their second year together. The Roethlisberger-Haley relationship isn't anything to worry about in Pittsburgh, for now.
Dan Snyder has been covering the Pittsburgh Steelers for over a year now. His work can be found featured at various outlets such as the Bleacher Report. Follow Dan on Twitter @dsnyder34 or shoot him an email email@example.com
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