The Arizona Cardinals have received permission from the Steelers to meet with offensive coordinator Todd Haley for an interview regarding their vacant head coaching position.
Haley, 45, would be the third person to interview for the position that opened when the Cardinals fired Ken Whisenhunt Monday. The Cardinals have already spoken with current defensive coordinator Ray Horton, a former Steelers assistant, and former Philadelphia head coach Andy Reid. They also are expected to speak to Denver offensive coordinator Mike McCoy.
Haley, the son of longtime Steelers director of football operations and Midway native Dick Haley, came to Pittsburgh last year as a replacement for Bruce Arians, who was not retained following the 2011 season.
He changed Pittsburgh’s offense from one that favored deeper passing routes to a shorter, ball-control style in an effort to better protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.
The Steelers allowed 37 sacks this season, down from 42 in 2011, despite attempting nearly 50 more passes. It was their fewest sacks allowed since giving up 32 in 2005.
Ironically, it was a sack that sent their season into a downward spiral. Roethlisberger suffered rib and shoulder injuries following a hit early in the second half of a 13-10 win against Kansas City that improved Pittsburgh’s record to 6-3.
Roethlisberger missed the next three games, and the Steelers lost five of their final seven to finish at 8-8 and out of the playoffs.
Haley, who joined the Steelers after being fired after 2 1/2 seasons as a head coach in Kansas City, said last week he had no interest in pursuing another head coaching job.
“It’s not anything that I am thinking about,” Haley said. “I am happy being here, and I just want to finish this year in the right manner to push us into the offseason and get ready to be better next year.”
But the lure of returning to Arizona, where he is a favorite of ownership and star wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald, was too good to pass up. Prior to becoming head coach of the Chiefs, Haley served as offensive coordinator in Arizona under Whisenhunt in 2007 and 2008, helping the Cardinals to their only Super Bowl, a 31-25 loss to the Steelers.
If Haley leaves, he would be the second departure from head coach Mike Tomlin’s coaching staff. Offensive line coach Sean Kugler accepted the head coaching position at the University of Texas-El Paso three weeks ago and left at the conclusion of the season.