Mike Tomlin talks coordinator switch

Updated: March 27, 2012, 4:44 PM ET
ESPN.com news services

Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin made it clear Tuesday that it was his call to replace offensive coordinator Bruce Arians with Todd Haley and that the directive to make a change didn't come from above.

"I'm not going to apologize for change," Tomlin told reporters at the NFL owners meetings in Palm Beach, Fla., in his first public comments about the change.

"I hired Todd Haley as well, which is your next question, which is a funny one to me," Tomlin told reporters, when asked if ownership ordered the switch. "Don't get me wrong. Art Rooney owns the football team. He can do what he wants but those directives did not happen."

The Steelers let Arians' contract expire and then termed his exit from the team as a retirement. Arians, however, later accepted a job as the Indianapolis Colts' offensive coordinator.

Pittsburgh ranked in the top half of the NFL in offense for three seasons prior to 2011, when it finished 12th and was a disappointing 21st in scoring.

"I thought that it was time for change," Tomlin said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. "We're moving into a situation here where we have an opportunity to grow and develop some young talent offensively. It's awesome to have an opportunity to maybe have the division of some common opponents -- people who are comfortable with how you play football -- get uncomfortable. That's what's going to happen to us this year. We're excited about that."

Tomlin also praised the work ethic of Haley, adding he's impressed with the ideas the former Kansas City Chiefs coach has for helping the Steelers become more potent. The coach insists there is no rift between Haley and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

Tomlin also said Tuesday that he expects new leaders to emerge following the departure of high-profile veterans like Hines Ward, Aaron Smith and James Farrior.

Tomlin said the Steelers are going through a changing of the guard in the locker room, but he's confident the team has several players -- including defensive end Brett Keisel and safety Ryan Clark -- capable of filling the void.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.