The Pittsburgh Steelers are having to fill a major opening on their coaching staff, and that is at the defensive coordinator job. With the retirement of long-time defensive coach Keith Butler, Mike Tomlin and company are in the process of interviewing potential candidates for the vacancy.
It has already been reported the Steelers have put in an interview request with New York Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, New Orleans Saints secondary coach Kris Richard, and a third name has now been listed.
According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers are planning on interviewing Dallas Cowboys secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr.
Mike Tomlin has interviewed or plans to interview former Giants defensive coordinator Patrick Graham, Saints secondary coach Kris Richard and Cowboys secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr.— Post-Gazette Sports (@PGSportsNow) January 26, 2022
From: @gerrydulac ⬇️https://t.co/38RDWO8vDb
For those who don’t know much about Whitt, rightfully so, here some some background information, per Dulac:
“Whitt was with the Cowboys in 2021 as secondary coach/defensive pass game coordinator after previous stops with the Green Bay Packers, Cleveland Browns and Atlanta Falcons. He spent the majority of his coaching career with the Packers, serving as cornerbacks coach for nine seasons (2009-2017) before being elevated to pass game coordinator in 2018. He then spent one season as secondary coach/pass game coordinator with the Browns (2019) and Falcons (2020) before joining the Cowboys last season.
“Whoever is hired, it is likely he will operate under the same guidelines that Butler did for his seven years as coordinator — with Tomlin calling the defensive signals. However, that arrangement is being discussed with all the candidates.”
Throughout this entire process the ability, or inability, for these candidates to make their own calls has been a constant talking point. Fans ask who would want to come in and be a coordinator who isn’t permitted to make his own defensive calls? Whether these reports of Tomlin micromanaging the defense from top down are true or not, it is definitely something to consider before the team makes their final decision.
Some are wondering if the team is just going through the motions, and checking a proverbial box with the Rooney Rule, but the Rooney Rule states any organization needs to interview two external minority candidates.
Will the Steelers just hand the job to Teryl Austin, or will one of these candidates make a splash and claim the job? That has yet to be seen, so be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the offseason.