On January 14, the Pittsburgh Steelers announced three coaches would not have their contracts renewed for the 2021 season. With tight end coach James Daniel announcing his retirement, Steelers had for coaching positions become vacant within a week of their final game.
Of the four available positions, two have been filled as the Steelers have hired Alfredo Roberts as their new tight end’s coach and have promoted Matt Canada from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. Along with the hires, the Steelers have talked to several candidates in regards to their offensive line coach and the newly vacated quarterback coach position.
What has been missing from the discussion over the last 19 days has been the Steelers looking for someone to fill Tom Bradley‘s position of defensive backs coach.
Hired in 2018, Coach Bradley only lasted three seasons with the Steelers. After only one season in Pittsburgh, the Steelers brought in former Lion’s and Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin as a Senior Defensive Assistant/Secondary coach. Some thought perhaps Bradley was in over his head and needed some help while others felt the Steelers were just finally adding some much-needed additional coaching positions as they have been caring those smallest coaching staff in the NFL.
Now that coach Bradley is no longer in Pittsburgh, the question is what the Steelers are going to do when it comes to their defensive backs coach. What may have slowed down the process was Teryl Austin interviewing for the Tennessee Titans’ defensive coordinator position. Now that the position was filled with an internal candidate, it appears Coach Austin will be back with the Steelers for 2021.
So what are the Steelers plans when it comes to Coach Austin and the defensive backs position? Will they simply hire another coach to fill that specific position, will they rename Coach Austin’s role and possibly be hiring a slightly different position, or will they simply not bring in another coach?
It’s not that Teryl Austin would not be a great candidate to coach the Steelers defensive backs by himself as he has previously held that position for the Seattle Seahawks, Arizona Cardinals, and Baltimore Ravens. Ironically, Coach Austin was the defensive backs coach against the Steelers in both Super Bowl XL and XLIII.
Knowing the Steelers, it would not be surprising at all to find out they are not hiring another defensive coach after letting one go. When Joey Porter ended his time as a coach in Pittsburgh in 2018, the Steelers simply had defensive coordinator Keith Butler take over the job for the last two seasons. Even know they didn’t hire an outside linebacker’s coach, it was the year they added Teryl Austin so they didn't reduce their staff that season.
As the Steelers push forward into 2021 season, would reducing their coaching staff be wise move? Even if Coach Austin takes over the defensive backs coaching responsibility, perhaps the Steelers will at least hire a defensive assistant to help out.
As much as I wouldn’t be surprised if the Steelers do not hire another coach on the defensive side of the ball, it’s just as likely that no sooner than the question is asked there will begin to be candidates reported that the Steelers have approached about joining the staff.
Much like many things in this offseason, the best bet is to just wait and see what the Steelers have in mind going forward for the 2021 season.