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The Steelers should, but won’t, strip Randy Fichtner’s duties during the 2019 season

BTSC writers Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis offer differing opinions on whether or not just if the Steelers should relieve an assistant coach of his duties mid season, but if they would.

NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers-Training Camp Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The Steelers are sitting at 1-4 on the 2019 season and are running out of chances to salvage the season. As always when the team under performs, Steeler Nation calls for the headset of the Head Coach. It is quite unlikely that that would happen at all, especially in the middle of the year. But a couple of assistants could find their office chairs burning through their khakis. BTSC’s resident heels, The Steelers Hangover’s Tony Defeo and Bryan Anthony Davis, have differing viewpoints on this particular subject. Read them as they slug it out in text below.

The Steelers should (but won’t) repossess Randy Fichtner’s head set during the 2019 season.


Bryan Anthony Davis’ Point

To quote Alan Alda in his portrayal of Hawkeye Pierce in “M*A*S*H*, “Lets skip the gristle and get straight to the bone”...I am finding myself less and less tolerant of Randy Fichtner as the Offensive Coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers and feel that the Steelers should replace him immediately. I don’t care if it’s with an Amazon Alexa, a twelve year-old kid proficient in playing Madden or Hector Elizondo who played offensive-minded coach of the Texas State Armadillos in 1991’s “Necessary Roughness”. Just anybody at this point. I’m so desperate, I find myself awake at night wondering what Todd Haley is doing these days.

The strange thing about this is I’m usually the last guy to call for the headset of a coach. I wouldn’t want anybody calling for me to lose my job and I don’t want to see a person in financial peril because of losing their employment. Heck, I find it hard to complain about bad service at a restaurant in fear of getting somebody fired. But this situation is vastly different. But because emotional and financial investment in this product, I feel like I’m getting short-changed because of inept game plans that are hardly strategically-offensive and just plain offensive...I want to see a change and I want to see a change now. Isn’t the customer always right.

I feel that Coach Randy wasn’t really adapting to the injury situations that were presented him. The offense still seems centered around the talents of Ben Roethlisberger. No. 7 hasn’t played since the first half of Week 2. In fact, I get the feeling that when Big Ben went on Injured Reserve, so did the Offensive Coordinator. Fichtner was promoted to the role because of his relationship with Ben, while nobody else was brought in to interview. Now that Ben isn’t in there and the offense shows absolutely no innovation whatsoever and subsequently is holding this team back, a change should be made. You need a coach that benefits the entire team, just not one player.

I understand it’s not the “Steeler Way” to get rid of an assistant in the middle of a season. I’ll read comments to that effect. But it’s never been the “Steeler Way” to trade away a No. 1 draft pick, so maybe philosophies are changing as well. I also will read comments regarding the fact that doing so would signal that the team is doing things different to save their jobs. If that’s the case, then why not? The complaint used to be that the Steelers are stuck in their old ways. I think that flew out the window when the team signed Michael Vick in 2015, signed Joe Haden and traded for Vance McDonald in 2017, traded for Ryan Switzer in 2018, traded Antonio Brown in 2019 and traded up for the tenth spot to select Devin Bush this year as well. The Baltimore Ravens fired their OC, Cam Cameron, before Week 14 in 2012 and then subsequently replacing him with Jim Caldwell. I’d venture to say that doing that late season change wasn’t too much of a disruption. They won the Super Bowl nearly two months later.

Listen, I don’t expect the Steelers to fire Fichtner at this juncture. I don’t see them doing it at all. But at this particular juncture, he has a Pro Bowl running back and three other all-stars on the Offensive Line. That unit is ranked 29th in the league with a mere 65 rushing yards per game. That’s an unacceptable number. Only the Jets, Bengals and Dolphins rank below them. In overall offense, they again rank 29th.

If this is “the Steeler Way”, then I feel like a woman stuck in an abusive relationship. But it doesn’t have to be this way. Rip off the Band-Aid, get to the courthouse and take back your life. This action still might not change things, but it would be a step in a winning direction.

If they aren’t willing to help themselves and let go of Fichtner...could we at least go to Plan B and start talking about the removal of Danny Smith Jr.?

Tony Defeo’s Counterpoint

Wow, talk about wanting your pound of flesh. Is this point/counterpoint or the Facebook comments section of (insert any Steelers article here)?

Let’s see, in a matter of months, Randy Fichtner, the offensive coordinator, has lost his All Pro receiver, his franchise quarterback, his franchise quarterback’s backup and now his Swiss Army Knife running back.

When you throw in tight end Vance McDonald’s on again/ off again love affair with the injury bug, the James Washington shoulder injury and what now looks like a lost season for Donte Moncrief, a veteran free agent the Steelers thought would provide some stability to the receiving corps, what more do you expect from Coach Randy?

You say the offensive game-plan lacks imagination? How’d that imagination look last Sunday when Samuels gifted the Ravens seven points on an interception out of the wildcat formation deep in Steelers territory? But why call that play there, you’re probably saying. Hey, he was just being imaginative.

You say Fichtner was only hired because he was Ben’s boy. Maybe that’s true, and maybe it would be easy to dismiss Fichtner now that Roethlisberger is on the shelf with an elbow injury that required surgery. Roethlisberger may not like that, and he may throw a hissy fit. But he’s got bigger fish to try, like trying to bounce back from major elbow surgery in his late-30s. So, I wouldn’t worry about hurting Roethlisberger’s feelings, if I were head coach Mike Tomlin, general manager Kevin Colbert or even owner Art Rooney II.

But you know whose sensibilities I am worried about? Those belonging to second-year quarterback Mason Rudolph, who has been entrusted with the keys to the offense for the rest of this season, save for this Sunday night, when rookie Devlin Hodges will likely get the start against the Chargers out in Los Angeles.

That’s right, two guys who are virtual babies in the football world are now one and two on the quarterback depth chart, and you want to take their security blanket away just when they’re getting their feet wet in the real world? You want to make them learn new terminology? You want to tear up the playbook just when they’re starting to master it?

And what about guys like James Conner and JuJu Smith-Schuster, two young veterans who are just starting to become true leaders on this football team? You want to make them have to learn an entire new system on the fly, when what they really need right now is familiarity? They need to reassure the even younger guys on this team. How can they do that with bewildered looks on their faces as they try to memorize the new guy’s plays?

What did Tomlin say at one of his recent press conferences? “We’re still in a very fragile state.” And that was BEFORE Rudolph was knocked out with a concussion. Now, you want to put them in an even more fragile state?

You mentioned the head coach from the movie Necessary Roughness. If you’ll recall, Larry Miller, who played that snake, Dean Elias, stripped most of Coach Straight Arrow Gennero’s players of their eligibility out of spite, and the coaches had to get by with a depleted roster.

I know what you’re going to say, “It worked, didn’t it?” Yes, but that’s the movies. This is real life.

Scott Bakula isn’t walking through that door. Sinbad isn’t walking through that door. The guy who played Stone Hands isn’t working through that door. Kathy Ireland isn’t walking through that door.

You can’t expect any coach to perform at a high level after losing the kind of talent Fichtner has lost.

As for replacing Danny Smith? Who cares at this point? If they wanted to have a decent special teams unit, they wouldn’t have cut Diontae Spencer. They wouldn’t have Ryan Switzer returning kicks and punts. “Yeah, but what about the kick coverage units?” you may be asking. Good point. “Stay in your lanes!” I believe we have covered what a new special teams coordinator would teach them.

It ain’t rocket science. It’s special teams.

I suppose you also want to fire Keith Butler, even though he suddenly looks a lot smarter with guys like Devin Bush and Minkah Fitzpatrick out there doing their thing.

Now isn’t the time to fire coordinators. All you’re going to do is take a bad situation and make it much, much worse.

To quote Facebook: “Not just no. Hell no!!!!!!!”

Bryan Anthony Davis’ Counterpoint

You had me at Scott Bakula. You could finally win one of these and maybe Ben Roethlisberger starts this week.

So...what are your thoughts? Which one of us should join Mason Rudolph in the concussion protocol? State your case in the comments section and be sure to vote in the poll. BAD is 4-0 on the season, while TonDef is a perfect candidate for the knock-knock Owen memes.


Do you agree more with Tony Defeo or Bryan Anthony Davis on whether or not the Steelers should remove Randy Fichtner or not?

This poll is closed

  • 50%
    BAD is on to something here.
    (297 votes)
  • 49%
    TonDef is definitely right.
    (294 votes)
591 votes total Vote Now