The Pittsburgh Steelers are hosting just their fourth home game in the 10th game of the season tonight at Heinz Field on Awful Thursday Night Football That Should Not Be A Thing, greeting former defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau back to the Steel City with his—and Mike Mularkey’s—Tennessee Titans.
While the Titans these days don’t quite have as much as the ‘Steel Feel’ on the roster as they once did, which I have written about a couple of times, they still have a heavy presence on the coaching staff, outside of LeBeau.
If you’ve been around long enough, you probably know these names: Mike Mularkey, former offensive coordinator, now head coach there; Nick Eason, former defensive lineman, now defensive line coach; Russ Grimm, former and current offensive line coach; Lou Spanos, former assistant linebackers coach, now linebackers coach; Deshea Townsend, former cornerback, now secondary coach; Keith Willis, former defensive lineman, now assistant defensive line coach. Up until last year, Bobby April was even their special teams coordinator.
I mean, really? A full third of their coaching and training staff has a very direct and significant tie back to the Steelers. Formerly, they even had an abundance of former Steelers players on their 53-man roster, but now it’s just down to former cornerback Brice McCain, who was in Pittsburgh for one season.
Somewhat amusingly, to me anyway, nose tackle Al Woods left Pittsburgh to play in Tennessee. But instead of playing him with the Titans, they still will have played him in the same week, as he is now with the Colts, so they’ve already seen him during Titans week.
Also formerly employed by the Titans in very recent history are former cornerbacks Antwon Blake and B.W. Webb. Sean Spence also had some success under LeBeau’s system there in 2016, recording 54 tackles, three sacks, and three passes defensed in six starts.
And it is a two-way street, as you might gather. In fact, it’s a rather significant one now, after the injury to Joe Haden, as former Titans draft pick, cornerback Coty Sensabaugh, will be making his first start for the Steelers tonight against his former team.
Though he is likely to be inactive, wide receiver Justin Hunter also got his career started in Tennessee, and they previously signed Daimion Stafford and Steven Johnson, though neither of them remain with the team.
Oh, and there’s some guy on the coaching staff who I think goes by the name of Mike Munchak, or something like that. I’ve heard that he was a halfway decent player who became a halfway decent coach in his own right. But for the life of me, I can’t even remember what he does.
As you might have gathered, there are a lot of shared connections between these two teams, especially going from north to south; that is, from Pittsburgh to Tennessee. But with Munchak on staff and Sensabaugh starting tonight, the relationship has been a symbiotic one to say the least.