Al Everest Firing Brings Up Past Preseason Coordinator Changes

August 9, 2012; Philadelphia, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Marquis Maze (3) runs with the ball past Philadelphia Eagles long snapper Jon Dorenbos (46) during the second half at Lincoln Financial Field. The Eagles defeated the Steelers 24-23. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-US PRESSWIRE

One doesn't need to look very far outside Pittsburgh to see previous mid-preseason coordinator changes.

As Tribune-Review reporter Alan Robinson points out, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley fired his offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, in his first season as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Haley, though, is an offensive-minded coach and was coming off a successful offensive coordinator stint in Arizona in 2008. Clearly, philosophical differences could - and probably did - exist. Haley gave Gailey three preseason games, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gave Everest two games.

And Tomlin replaced Everest in-house, promoting Amos Jones from the assistant position. Curiously, Robinson wrote "Everest was abruptly fired as special teams coordinator following practice Thursday and replaced by his assistant, Amos Jones, who already was doing much of the on-field coaching."

Is that to suggest Everest was pulling a Peter Gibbons in Office Space? Were the Bobs not on site to protect Everest from Tomlin's wrath?

The timing is interesting, but where there's smoke, there's fire. The Steelers' punt returns so far in preseason haven't been even remotely impressive. As a group - Marquis Maze and Chris Rainey - are averaging four yards a return.

While that isn't going to make many coaches happy, there have been two preseason games, and both of the returners they've used are rookies. Everest's coverage and return teams have been around average - 12th in kick coverage, 16th in punt coverage, no returns longer than 45 yards. In other words, his teams have shown positive results during the regular season, and after two years of that, it seems confusing Everest would be on his way out, unless there was a legitimate beef between Everest and at least one other member of the coaching staff.

Maybe it had something to do with who was returning kicks. Maybe we'll see different players back there Saturday against Buffalo.

Either way, let's hope a shake-up produces better results in at least currently substandard punt return game. They'll have to be prepared, because clearly Tomlin doesn't feel preseason results don't matter.

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