The relationship between Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and offensive coordinator Todd Haley tends to run hot and cold, and recently Roethlisberger has been recruiting other members of the coaching staff to serve as buffers of sorts between them during games, sources said.
There was an undercurrent of friction palpable from Roethlisberger’s remarks in describing the instructions that were sent in from the sidelines in the dying moments of Pittsburgh’s loss to New England last week, which is reflective of the recent climate there.
Sources said Roethlisberger approached head coach Mike Tomlin about a month ago and requested to have a buffer between him and Haley on the sidelines, another set of eyes and a sounding board he could turn to. Specifically, he asked that quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner, who he is close with, no longer stay in the coaching booth in the press box during games but instead join other offensive coaches down to the sidelines. Tomlin quickly obliged, and the Steelers have been operating in that fashion since last month, sources said.
Roethlisberger and Haley have had an icy go of it in recent years, and it’s been an up-and-down season for Pittsburgh’s passing game at times, specifically in the first half of the season.