It is interesting that the Pittsburgh Steelers are, from all appearances, electing to go about their 2018 season without a member of the staff that is devoted solely to working as the quarterbacks coach, a role that has been in place as its own entity for some time.
Yesterday, in the midst of the announcement of quarterbacks coach Randy Fichtner being promoted to offensive coordinator, taking over Todd Haley’s post after six seasons, it was also revealed that he would be retaining his prior duties, and would instead serve a dual role.
This was a move that took a lot of people by surprise initially, including myself, but as I spent more timing thinking about it, it has come to make sense for me. At least, it makes sense for Ben Roethlisberger, in particular.
I do wonder if, over the course of the offseason, the Steelers will add an assistant quarterbacks coach to the staff, similar to the role of Shaun Sarrett as the assistant offensive line coach under Mike Munchak. That would help divide Fichtner’s time between two roles and give Landry Jones and Joshua Dobbs a clear liaison.
But when it comes to Roethlisberger and running the offense, to put it quite frankly, he doesn’t need another new voice in his ear, not at this point in his career. The 14-year veteran can probably run the offense entirely by himself at this point from pre-game preparation to in-game audibles.
And to be fair, the Steelers, from the coaches to the players, have routinely praised Jones’ knowledge of the offense as well. Dobbs is literally one of the most intelligent players in the NFL, even if he still has a lot to learn. But I believe this quarterback group can be relatively self-sufficient.
And to be honest, a good offensive coordinator is one that serves many hats. He is the quarterbacks coach, the wide receivers coach, the running backs coach, the tight ends coach, and the offensive line coach all rolled up into one figure head, and then some.
But the quarterback will always hold a unique place in the offense because it is the sole position that controls every play on the field. And so there is necessarily a special relationship that exists between the quarterback group and the offensive coordinator.
Especially so when the offensive coordinator comes from the background of a quarterbacks coach. And who, at least at the collegiate level, already has experience working in the dual role of offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach, as Fichtner has.
Maybe the Steelers bring in somebody to help divide the load—I would be shocked if there is not at least a coaching intern at the quarterback position during training camp—but it makes sense to me to keep that relationship between Roethlisberger and Fichtner, which does not come across to me as one that is either adversarial or enabling.