I remember the old days when the Steelers would hire an assistant coach, I would read about it in the team’s media guide many months later, and then I’d react like this: “What’s for dinner?”
But those days have been gone for a long time, as evidenced by the global reaction to the news on Wednesday that the Pittsburgh Professional Football Club hired Glenn Thomas to be an offensive assistant coach in 2023.
Instead of a small blurb on a sports site or during a news segment about sports, the Steelers’ hiring of Thomas garnered front-page news all day long. Tweeters Tweeted about it. Bloggers blogged about it. Talkshow hosts talked about it.
It was like the old Saturday Night Live skit about Buckwheat being shot but with people speculating about the hiring of Glenn Thomas, instead.
“Did you see the news that Glenn Thomas was hired? No? Let’s take a look...”
Don’t be offended. I get why people are speculating about the hiring of Thomas—Steelers news reigns supreme 24/7/365 in 2023—but I just want to poke fun at what people are speculating about: That Glenn Thomas was hired to be the future offensive coordinator.
Why wouldn’t they just hire Thomas to be the offensive coordinator right now? I mean, he’d be replacing Matt “Freaking” Canada, the Steelers' worst offensive coordinator since Randy Fichtner.
Oh, I get it, Canada still has one year left on his deal, and you know how those Rooneys love to pinch the pennies when it comes to paying coaches.
I see what’s happening now: Thomas, much like Canada when he was hired to be the Steelers' new quarterbacks coach in 2020, is probably being told to bide his time as an offensive assistant. In the meantime, Thomas, much like Canada in 2020, will serve as the team’s secret offensive coordinator in 2023.
It makes sense. After all, like Canada, Thomas has spent his coaching career going from college team to college team as an offensive coordinator, quarterbacks coach, passing game coordinator, co-offensive coordinator, etc.
And, get this, Thomas even had a stint in the pros many years ago; that’s right, he worked with the great Matt Ryan—maybe you’ve heard of him—when Thomas was hired by the Falcons as an offensive assistant at the onset of Matty Ice’s NFL career.
Maybe I should be more logical about the hiring of Thomas and far-less cynical about how I think the media and fans will approach his presence on Pittsburgh’s staff in 2023.
“Thomas is a passing game coordinator that has never worked with Pat Meyer, but has been the passing game coordinator in several offenses that had the same run game,” quote-Tweeted my friend, Geoffrey Benedict, on Wednesday when I joke-Tweeted much the same thing I’m writing about now.
“He’s most likely here to help the pass game work with the run game better.”
Logical, and it makes sense in theory.
But what the heck does logic have to do with it?
You know it’s just a matter of time before the Steelers draft an offensive player who has some kind of connection to Thomas from his stint at ASU. Either that or the Steelers will draft someone who played in a similar scheme to the one Thomas devised in college.
When will we see Thomas’s fingerprints on this Steelers offense?
I give it until OTAs.
When will reporters ask Canada and/or Kenny Pickett about Thomas’s contributions to the offense?
I give it until OTAs.
How many times will Canada and/or Pickett give politically-correct answers—“Coach Glenn, Coach Pat, Coach Mike, Coach Frisman, they all have a hand in developing our offense”—before one of them snaps and gives the kind of cryptic answer that the media and fans will devour?
I give it until the third week of training camp.
Glenn Thomas: Welcome aboard, and welcome to the circus.
And get ready to be the most popular assistant on the Steelers coaching staff since the 2020 version of Matt Canada.