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Monday, February 6, 2012
Cardinals bank on future without Haley

By Mike Sando

Todd Haley's hiring as the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive coordinator comes after the Arizona Cardinals decided against offering an equivalent role to him.

My initial thought: Haley's pull-no-punches approach to motivation worked well when he was with the Cardinals previously, but how might Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger respond? After all, Roethlisberger was reportedly upset when management forced out previous coordinator Bruce Arians.

The dynamics could be complicated going into this relationship.

We should remember, however, that Haley and former Cardinals quarterback Kurt Warner became very close during their years together in Arizona. Also, the well-publicized blowups between Haley and former Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin did not necessarily reflect an unhealthy relationship. They were overblown in some cases.

Haley showed no fear in confronting players when he thought it would get the most from him. Will he take that approach with Roethlisberger? The quarterback position is different from others. Back in early 2009, when the Cardinals were playing Pittsburgh in the Super Bowl, Haley had this to say about what he liked about Warner:
I think that No. 1, his preparation is second to none. I don't know who could prepare more than him. He's into it. He obviously has great ability to throw the football. I think if you had to say one thing that separates him, he’s got unbelievable vision and anticipation and he’s probably one of the better progression passers as far as getting through his complete read. That’s why a guy like Steve Breaston gets 1,000-yards out of nowhere, because of Kurt’s ability to find the open guy. He’s got a lot of great skills as a quarterback and he knows how to use them.

How Haley and Roethlisberger get along isn't a huge concern in the NFC West, obviously. The Cardinals' decision to move forward with Mike Miller as coordinator and receivers coach John McNulty as the likely quarterbacks coach carries more importance. And if that arrangement does not work out, Cardinals fans will wonder what might have been had Arizona made room for Haley in the role of coordinator.