Out with the old, and in with the new. Gone are the days of Dick LeBeau, and welcome to the new tenure of long-time linebackers coach Keith Butler as the Pittsburgh Steelers' defensive coordinator. Butler has a long history with head coach Mike Tomlin, which is a good thing in terms of comfort and understanding between the two coaches; however, Butler has more than just his work cut out for him. Rather, he very well could have been named the captain of a sinking ship.
"The nature of our relationship has changed over the years and I enjoy that," Tomlin said with a laugh while chatting with ESPN.com's Scott Brown at the NFL owners meetings. "We have a great deal of comfort and continuity. Also I'm looking forward to the impact he can have of putting his spin on what we have been doing. I am excited about how that might make us different and more competitive as we move forward. Change isn't something that I fear. If you are trying to be the very best that you can be you can't have that mentality."
The 'spin' which Tomlin speaks of is a word of great magnitude as the team prepares for the 2015 season. It begs the question if the spin Butler has up his sleeve involves his part-time job as a miracle worker.
All joking aside, take a look at the defense Butler will have to work with this season. Obviously, draft picks will impact this list, but the Steelers seem content without bringing in anyone else via free agency so essentially, what you see is what you get.
Butler's defensive front will be anchored by Steve McLendon and Daniel McCullers with Cameron Heyward and Stephon Tuitt holding down the tackle positions. Cam Thomas is still in the mix, although at times he looked as if he was playing football on roller skates in 2014 by the looks of how he was repeatedly pushed around.
At linebacker, Jarvis Jones and Arthur Moats are your starting outside linebackers, with James Harrison now returning to save the day - at age 37. Inside linebacker is one of the few bright spots with Lawrence Timmons, Ryan Shazier (when healthy), Sean Spence and Vince Williams doing a solid job of anchoring the middle of the field.
Here is where it gets really good, the secondary. Cornerbacks: William Gay, B.W. Blake, Antwon Blake and Cortez Allen. I can hear all of Steelers Nation giving a collective sigh of disapproval when looking at that list. Safeties include Shamarko Thomas, Mike Mitchell and possibly Troy Polamalu - the team seems content allowing him to take his time in making a decision on his future.
Read over those last three paragraphs one more time. Take your time and take a look at what Butler will have in front of him come summer time when the team reports to training camp at St. Vincent College in Latrobe, PA. Tomlin can talk about Butler's 'spin' all he wants, but when the rubber meets the road you need to have players to produce within the scheme, and barring several home runs in the upcoming draft, Butler better sharpen his miracle worker skills.