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Mike Tomlin suggests Teryl Austin will have input on coaches challenges and other game day judgement calls

The Steelers head coach discussed the role the new senior defensive assistant will have would have with the team when talking to reporters on Monday

NFL: Cincinnati Bengals-Training Camp Cincinnati Enquirer-USA TODAY NETWORK

Of all the topics that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin discussed with reporters at the owner general meeting in Arizona on Monday, it was his comments about the role of new defensive coach Teryl Austin that might have been the most interesting to fans who have been frustrated with the team’s lack of success with coaches challenges.

When speaking to Missi Matthews during a sit down interview aired on Steelers.com, while Tomlin spoke at length about the changes to his coaching staff this offseason, it was his answers to questions about Austin that were perhaps the most noteworthy. Given the title of senior defensive assistant/secondary, Tomlin explained that his primary duties would involve working with the defensive backs groups, but also hinted at some game day duties where Pittsburgh has some clear needs.

“Essentially he’s a secondary coach, but I’m acknowledging that he brings some unique talents to the table as a secondary coach. He has experience as a coordinator. He’s also a guy that’s been on the doorstep of some head-coaching positions in recent years and he brings that know-how and that preparation.”

“Anticipating using him in terms of some situational things, be it replay and judgement in-game, to help us in a lot of ways because that’s something that he’s been preparing for in his aspiration to be a head coach. He has a lot of additional talents that could be beneficial to us beyond his secondary expertise and I think it’s reflected in his title”.

In light of the fact that Tomlin has not won a coaches challenge since a game against the Miami Dolphins in the wildcard round of the playoffs in January of 2017, any help he can get is sure to be welcome. Statistically, he was the NFL’s least successful coach at challenges over the past few years heading into the 2018 season, and nothing changed last year to alter that fact after Tomlin went 0-5 in that department.

But as poor as his recent form has been, it has not always been that way. In six of his 12 seasons in charge, Tomlin won 50-percent of his challenges or better, and once ranked as one of the more successful in the league. As of late, he is 0-10 as has not won a challenge in two years.

While it would be unfair to lame the entire blame for a failed coaches challenge at the feet of the head coach, the buck does ultimately stop with Tomlin, and it will be interesting to note if there is any improvement with Austin’s input on game day.

If the former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator is also able to assist Tomlin in the other areas he has struggled with over like clock management and in-game decisions such as when it is appropriate to call a fake punt, the addition of Austin could yet prove to be one of the more significant moves the Steelers have made this offseason.