Many predicted this would happen, even after Mike Tomlin declared his entire defensive coaching staff would remain intact. Coaching changes had to be made, and the Steelers have made several since their sickening loss to the Jaguars at Heinz Field in the AFC Playoffs.
OUT: Todd Haley
IN: Randy Fichtner
OUT: Carnell Lake
IN: Tom Bradley
OUT: John Mitchell
IN: Karl Dunbar
OUT: Richard Mann
IN: Darryl Drake
For the Steelers, this is a lot of change in their coaching staff, and while fans pour over these coaches’ individual pasts to see how they can impact the Steelers next season, I ask if the moves made were enough?
In other words, while more moves could be made, should there be other coaches who aren’t asked back, are asked to retire, or are just shown the door and told not to look back?
The first person to draw the ire of the fan base would be a former player who used to make them cheer — Joey Porter. Porter coaches the outside linebackers, but has failed to truly develop players like Jarvis Jones, Bud Dupree and many wonder what he will, or won’t, be able to do with the raw talent of T.J. Watt.
Porter isn’t alone. Danny Smith, although coming off a season where his special teams made more than enough plays, could be another coach who could be replaced. The thought of Chris Boswell’s poor onside kick(s) certainly comes to mind when thinking about the team’s overall special teams play.
Another former player, Jerry Olsavsky, coaches the inside linebackers, and the inability for the unit to withstand the loss of Ryan Shazier begs the question whether the team was leaning on Shazier’s freakish athleticism, the lack of depth was insufficient, or Olsavsky was somehow not capable of getting his players in position to make the plays necessary to have success?
John Mitchell wasn’t a problem along the defensive line. He is one of the most respected coaches within the Steelers’ organization, but what will his departure from the defensive line, and addition as an Assistant Head Coach, do to a team needing a swift kick in the derriere?
Either way you slice it, the Steelers needed to make changes, but have the changes made been the ones necessary to fix the issues both on and off the field?
Carnell Lake retired and Tom Bradley is filling his shoes, will this change lead to more inconsistent play in the back end of the defense, or be the beginning of a new secondary poised to make big plays for the defense?
Darryl Drake replaces legendary coach Richard Mann, and the question will be whether he will be able to bring a physical presence to the wide receiving corps without losing the traits Mann ingrained into the receivers minds regarding how to work the sideline, etc.?
I have long believed coaches can only do so much. As a coach, if you’ve coached at even the High School level, you realize this early on. Even the best plan, and adjustments, are pointless if your players are incapable of executing the plan to a ‘T’. While these coaching decisions may be a step in the right direction for the Steelers, only time will tell how they work out, and the most honest fan realizes more changes should be coming to help get the team over the proverbial hump standing in their way of Super Bowl No. 7.