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Titans top Steelers West in defection

As Dick LeBeau joins the Titans' coaching staff, Tennessee has surpassed Arizona as the top destination of former Steelers' personnel.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The mock ridicule flows from Steeler Nation like the Ohio River.

It travels west, much like defectors taking the form of ex-Steelers players and coaches, but the Ohio stops north of Nashville, and thousands of miles from Glendale, Ariz.

The feigned surprise felt among Steelers fans when a former player heads to the desert is a common reaction now. The Nation must come up with a new one. Powder blue is the new cardinal red.

The new resting place of former Steelers personnel is in Tennessee, as the Titans formally announced the addition of Dick LeBeau to their coaching staff. He'll partner up with ex-Steelers defensive backs coach Ray Horton, both of them working under ex-Steelers offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt for the AFC South mild contender.

Whisenhunt led the exodus from Pittsburgh to Arizona back in 2007. He and ex-Steelers offensive line coach Russ Grimm were both passed over for the Steelers' head coaching job vacated by their boss, Bill Cowher. The job went to Mike Tomlin, and the trio hashed things out in Super Bowl XLIII - the Steelers' One for the Other Thumb victory.

The Cardinals wouldn't get back to that point, but there's hope in Cardinals Country, thanks to head coach Bruce Arians, who captured his second Coach of the Year award, serving the Cardinals well as Whisenhunt's replacement. He, too, was once the offensive coordinator of the Steelers.

Whisenhunt took his head coaching career to Tennessee, where he hired Horton to run his defense. He's now adding LeBeau, making the Titans the second-most Steelers-based coaching staff in the league, trailing only the Steelers themselves.

The Cardinals now only have Arians and special teams coordinator Amos Jones holding ex-Steelers cred among their coaching staff.

Much like the Cardinals, fans can expect another influx of former Steelers players to join the Titans. With Troy Polamalu's contract situation in flux, and Jason Worilds entering free agency, both could be targets for the struggling Titans.

Same for Brett Keisel and James Harrison, two players the Cardinals courted briefly in free agency in 2014.

Even Ike Taylor, a staunch and ardent LeBeau supporter, is available for the Titans to pluck, should they feel the need. Much like Arizona was when both Whisenhunt and Arians took over, the Titans are in need of an overhaul.

Don't think coaches will be untouchable either. Steelers defensive assistants Joey Porter and longtime assistant Jerry Olsavsky are reportedly both being considered for the team's linebackers coach position, a spot vacated by Keith Butler, who replaces LeBeau as defensive coordinator.

Two dogs, one bone.

Perhaps the odd man out will have a home in Nashville. Certainly, Whisenhunt and LeBeau know how that works.

Opportunities abound in the homes for ex-Steelers refugees. Players and coaches who do things The Steeler Way may be encouraged this offseason to stay in shape and to stay sharp.

Coach Whiz, Coach LeBeau and Coach Horton may need them.