While the Pittsburgh Steelers have made a number of new additions to their coaching staff this offseason, there is still no team in the NFL with fewer dedicated position coaches on their roster heading into 2019. With just 12 coaches responsible for a specific position group on offense, defense and special teams combined, they lag far behind teams like the Philadelphia Eagles who have 11 coaches signed to the offensive side of the ball alone and others like the San Francisco 49ers who have as many as 22 coaches overall.
Barring a change of heart in the coming months, Pittsburgh will be one of only four teams without a dedicated quarterbacks next season. Just like the New England Patriots, New York Jets and New York Giants, the Steelers will once again combine the role with the responsibilities of the offensive coordinator for the second year in a row.
With just six coaches listed on the team’s official website on offense, Pittsburgh continues to buck a league-wide trend that has seen a number of franchises add several specialist coaches focusing on specific aspects of the game. While the Giants and Green Bay Packers have only seven offensive coaches, the majority of teams in the NFL have eight or nine, with the Eagles and 49ers carrying 11.
Comparing Pittsburgh with Philadelphia shows two teams with distinctly different offensive philosophies when it come to their coaching staff.
- Offensive coordinator/quarterbacks – Randy Fichtner
- Running backs – Eddie Faulkner
- Wide receivers – Darryl Drake
- Tight ends – James Daniel
- Offensive line – Shaun Sarrett
- Assistant offensive line – Adrian Klemm
- Offensive coordinator – Mike Groh
- Quarterbacks – Press Taylor
- Assistant head coach/Running backs – Duce Staley
- Wide receivers – Carson Walch
- Tight ends – Justin Peelle
- Offensive line/Run game coordinator – Jeff Stoutland
- Assistant offensive line – Roy Istvan
- Offensive Assistant- GJ Kinne
- Offensive quality control/Assistant quarterbacks – Spencer Phillips
- Offensive quality control/Assistant running backs – Trent Miles
- Offensive quality control/Assistant offensive line – T.J. Paganetti
Along with the Detroit Lions and the Miami Dolphins, the Steelers are the only other team in the league to have just five dedicated position coaches on defense, with most having an average of seven. The Cleveland Browns lead the NFL with nine. If not for the appointment of Teryl Austin to the newly created position of senior defensive assistant/secondary coach, Pittsburgh would be even further behind.
Aside from the Dallas Cowboys, who have combined the role of defensive coordinator with defensive line coach, and the Atlanta Falcons where the head coach is also listed as the defensive coordinator, the Steelers are the only other team in the league who have combined the role with another job.
Comparing the Steeles with the Browns highlights an obvious difference in the way these two team coach their respective defenses.
- Defensive coordinator/outside linebackers – Keith Butler
- Defensive line – Karl Dunbar
- Inside linebackers – Jerry Olsavsky
- Defensive backs – Tom Bradley
- Senior defensive assistant/secondary – Teryl Austin
- Defensive coordinator – Steve Wilks
- Defensive line – Tosh Lupoi
- Assistant defensive line – John Parrella
- Linebackers/run game coordinator – Al Holcomb
- Secondary/pass game coordinator – Joe Whitt Jr.
- Defensive backs – DeWayne Walker
- Senior defensive assistant – Chris Jones
- Defensive quality control – Deuce Schwartz
- Defensive quality control - Alonso Escalante
When it comes to special teams, it should come as no surprise to learn that Pittsburgh is one of only six teams that has elected to have just one coach responsible for this group, while most clubs have two and a handful have three.
With no salary cap for coaches, there is no limit to the size of the staff a team can have and it would appear that the Steelers simply favor having less voices involved. It should also be noted that Pittsburgh lists three relatively inexperienced coaching assistants with nonspecific responsibilities on the roster as well.
Blaine Stewart works with the offense and is the son of the man that gave Mike Tomlin his first job in coaching, a move he reciprocated with the hiring of Stewart in 2018, while Matt Symmes might be the closest thing the Steelers have to a quarterbacks coach. A graduate assistant at the University of South Carolina working with quarterbacks before arriving in Pittsburgh last year.
Former scouting intern Denzel Martin joined the Steelers in 2016 and was made a coaching assistant in 2018. As a former linebacker with the University of Missouri, Martin works on defense, but with no specific role attached to his name. And while former defensive line coach John Mitchell remains with the team as the assistant head coach, his duties no longer include coaching players.
After the Steelers, the Lions and the Dolphins have the next smallest coaching staff with just 15 dedicated coaches each, but there appears to be little correlation between successful teams and the size of their staff. The New England Patriots and Los Angeles Rams both had 17 in total last season, with New England traditionally carrying less staff than most around the league, while the 49ers did little with the 22 helping them. That being said, no team will be trying to do more with less coaching help than Pittsburgh in 2019 and some might question how wise that strategy is.