The Pittsburgh Steelers made the decision earlier this offseason to move in a different direction at offensive coordinator. With Todd Haley’s contract expiring after six seasons with the team, the team chose not to re-sign him, instead promoting quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner to the post.
But they did not simply promote Fichtner and swap titles. No, they are choosing, at least for the time being, to allow him to serve both as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, the latter being a post that he has held with the team since 2010.
He succeeded Ken Anderson at the job after moving over from the wide receiver coach position, the quarterback coach job previously held by Bruce Arians, who like Fichtner moved on to the offensive coordinator position. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has famously had a very good relationship with both.
Still, there was some thinking that the Steelers would want to bring in somebody who could handle the job of quarterbacks coach, and one named that was floated around—including by myself—was none other than former Steelers quarterback Byron Leftwich.
A first-round pick by the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2003, Leftwich played quarterback for 10 seasons in the NFL, four of which came with the Steelers after three stints. He was here in 2008 before earning a second opportunity to start in 2009, but returned in 2010 and stayed here through the 2012 season before he retired.
During that time, the latter three seasons specifically, he worked with Fichtner, who was the quarterbacks coach. Following his playing career, he followed Arians, who became the head coach of the Arizona Cardinals.
Leftwich was a coaching intern for the team in 2016 before being hired in 2017 as the quarterbacks coach. Arians spoke very highly of the former quarterback, stating that he believes he has the capability of becoming a head coach at some point in his career.
Arians, however, retired, and that has left quite a bit of the Cardinals’ coaching staff in flux. The Steelers have already plucked one of their coaches, wide receivers coach Darryl Drake, to replace the retired Richard Mann, so it was thought that they might pursue Leftwich as well.
But according to Ian Rapoport, the Cardinals, under new head coach Steve Wilks, is retaining Leftwich on their staff, with the reporter echoing Arians’ sentiments about his coaching future. It appears at the moment that he is not going anywhere.
I admit I was intrigued by the possibility of bringing Leftwich in for that post. He and Roethlisberger already had a good relationship as players, the former serving as something of an on-field coach, as did Charlie Batch.
It would still not surprise me if a quarterbacks coach, or an assistant to work with the quarterbacks, is found at some point. If not this season, then before the start of the 2019 season.