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Todd Haley on Myles Garrett's helmet swing: 'This falls squarely on the head coach'

Some people are putting the blame squarely on Myles Garrett for Thursday night’s shocking melee involving the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cleveland Browns. Others, interestingly, feel Mason Rudolph deserves at least a share of the blame.

But Todd Haley, who has a unique perspective in that he coached both teams recently, has someone else he’s holding accountable for the mess that unfolded.

Haley was the Steelers’ offensive coordinator from 2012 to 2017, and he served in the same role for the Browns — before being fired during the season — last season under former head coach Hue Jackson. Haley went on SiriusXM Radio on Friday morning and had some strong words for his most recent NFL team.

And he appears to be pointing the finger of blame not as much at Garrett, the man who swung a helmet at Rudolph, as Haley does for Browns head coach Freddie Kitchens, his former staff mate in Cleveland.

“Inexcusable and embarrassing,” Haley said. “Just a total lack of self-control.

“This to me, this comes back to coaching. This falls squarely on the head coach. Because the head coach talks to every assistant coach who then talk to their group of players. And there’s an old saying in coaching: ‘You’re either coaching it or you’re allowing it to happen.’ ”

Is Todd Haley the most reliable narrator?

It might be natural to bat a suspicious eye here regarding Haley. After all, he was let go by the Browns and might harbor some resentment for not being allowed to continue coaching with the team. But Haley says he speaks from experience in terms of how Cleveland’s ship is run.

“I’ve been on those fields in Cleveland, and part of the frustration is if you see those things going on, you shouldn’t allow ... to go on because you’re practicing bad habits,” he said. “You’re practicing lack of discipline. You’re practicing lack of self-control. And that’s what practice is for: to continually press [upon] the players of how you need to play and practice and showing up on time, all those little things that add up to discipline.”

Haley might have a point that indicts the Browns for a lot of things that have happened in this strange season. Cleveland leads the NFL in total penalties and is second to the Oakland Raiders in penalties per game. The Browns also rank near the bottom of the league in turnovers, had four players ejected from games this season in total (including Greg Robinson back in Week 1 for kicking a Tennessee Titans player) and have looked like a team out of control at times under Kitchens in his first season as head coach.

But can we implicate Kitchens directly for Garrett’s helmet swing?

“When I watch the Cleveland Browns, I see a lot of stuff being allowed to happen, whether it’s clown shoes, visors, whatever it may be,” Haley said. “Myles Garrett hitting the quarterback low, hitting the quarterback in the head. It's happening too much, it's not just a fluke.”

It’s hard not to think that the Garrett incident, which overshadowed a big victory that actually kept the Browns in the playoff race, won’t reflect negatively on the first-year head coach. But it also might be a giant leap to suggest that the head coach was directly to blame for what unfolded Thursday night.

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