Browns notes: Todd Haley isn’t looking for revenge against the Steelers, just a win

Chris Hubbard providing Browns with intel on his former team

Daryl Ruiter
September 07, 2018 - 5:12 pm
Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley speak with reporters on Sept. 6, 2018

Daryl Ruiter-92.3 The Fan

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Berea, OH (92.3 The Fan) – There was a time when Browns-Steelers meant something other than just another loss for Cleveland and bye week for Pittsburgh.

Browns offensive coordinator Todd Haley remembers those days well, thanks in part to his father, Dick Haley, a 4-time Super Bowl champion and Hall of Fame cornerback who served as the Steelers director of player personnel from 1971-1990.

“The history of this series goes back a long way,” Haley said. “As a young kid, I was at Municipal Stadium. I remember feeling it shake and worried whether it was going to fall down. There have been a lot of great games played between these teams. I think that just adds to it and what just makes the NFL great.”

But a once storied and heated rivalry has turned into a 1-sided beating the last 19 years – a tradition Haley helped to uphold as the offensive coordinator for the Steelers for the previous 6 years.

“It’s one of the top organizations in sports not just football,” Haley said. “I was happy to be a part of it. Learned a lot. Grew a lot. I think that it is an organization that a lot of other organizations are trying to pattern or model themselves after.”

Haley was 10-2 against the Browns. He now aims to turn the tide on his former team after his contract wasn’t renewed in January amid reports of growing tension with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

“For me, getting along with other people has never been at the top of my priority list,” Haley said. “When you work for Parcells as long as I did, you better have your players ready to play. They better play their best or close to their best when you are coaching them or you won’t be coaching for Coach Parcells for very long. Having come in under Bill and learned that way quickly that you would not be around if your guys did not perform the way that they were supposed to and do their job the way that they were supposed to, that is a high-pressure situation to be in.

“People can perceive whatever they want. I have some great, great relationships with coaches and players from my last 22-23 years in this league. That is what is important to me.”

While Haley downplayed the significance of Sunday’s opener, head coach Hue Jackson knows what a win would mean to him.

“It would mean the world to him,” Jackson said. “We all want it. We all want it for him. At the same time, we know that we have to play really well to make that happen.” 

Conventional wisdom would suggest Haley has been able to provide all sorts of intel on the reigning AFC North champions, a factor he downplayed significantly.

“What is that saying? I am worried about my own house,” Haley said. “We are worried about trying to be the best that we can be on offense. Having been there for an extended period of time, it could possibly be of help. At the same time, I have always been a believer that if you are worrying a lot about picking up the things that they are doing, you could end up not playing [well].

“I have been careful not to talk too much or say too much when I have been asked or giving any thought. I think all of our players on offense and defense have to go out and play their best game.”

Spilling the beans – Right tackle Chris Hubbard is taking a different approach than Haley – at least publicly when it comes to preparing his teammates for Sunday’s game.

He’s not afraid to tell anyone who is willing to listen about his former team.

“I’m telling my O-line everything I know,” Hubbard said. “I’m giving them all the inside [information].”

Hubbard, who signed a 5-year, $36.5 million deal as a free agent this offseason, went 7-1 against the Browns after spending the first 4 years of his career in the steel city.

Early Christmas – Gregg Williams’ second Hard Knocks appearance was fruitful. The Browns defensive coordinator received plenty of gifts from viewers and fans.

“I have gotten some shipments of lozenges. I have gotten some dad apparel hats with some sayings that I can’t repeat over the microphone right now,” Williams said. “Evidently I said something about waking up and paying attention maybe with a few adjectives, and I got some organic coffee sent.”

“There was a while there was a shipment about every other day of something coming in. I said maybe I need to start talking about some alcohol or start talking about something nicer and get some nicer gifts this way.”

Williams also acknowledged the long hours and hard work the crew from NFL Films put in to produce the 5-episode series featuring the Browns.

“I do respect those people a lot and have really kind of developed some friendships for life with some of those people on how hard they work,” Williams said.

Return duty – Rookie Antonio Callaway will handle punt return duties as well as help on some kickoffs which will primarily handled by Jabrill Peppers special teams coordinator Amos Jones said Friday.   

Injury report – Out: CB E.J. Gaines (knee)

Doubtful: LB James Burgess (concussion)

Likely to play: TE Seth DeValve (quad), WR Josh Gordon (hamstring), LT Desmond Harrison (knee), LB Christian Kirksey (shoulder), DT Trevon Coley (ankle), LB Genard Avery (glute), S Damarious Randall (knee)