There are those who continue to question his competence as a coach, but Pittsburgh Steelers defensive backs coach Carnell Lake has been with the team now for seven years, originally joining the staff in 2011 when Ray Horton, their previous defensive backs coach, earned a defensive coordinator opportunity with another team.
Lake is, of course, a former defensive back for the Steelers, having played both safety and cornerback for the organization from 1989 to 1998. He had minimal coaching experience, briefly working at UCLA for one season, prior to his hiring.
He is, in fact, but one of three former players from that particular Steelers backfield that went on to have coaching careers in the NFL. Rod Woodson, a cornerback in the Hall of Fame, has spent the past three seasons working with the Oakland Raiders in the secondary, and was also there in 2011.
Many were aware of Woodson in the coaching ranks. At the time of Lake’s hiring, many actually wanted Woodson instead. Fewer are likely aware that Darren Perry, who was the Steelers’ starting free safety from 1992 to 1998, has also been in the coaching ranks—and for quite a while, actually.
He even worked with the Steelers. In fact, he was their defensive backs coach for Bill Cowher’s final three seasons, but he resigned from the post after Cowher, under whom he played, retired. He subsequently worked for the Raiders for a couple of seasons, but has spent nearly a decade with the Green Bay Packers.
With Green Bay’s struggles this past season, cleaning house both in the front office and among the coaching staff, however, Perry was recently relieved of his duties, and is now available for the first time since 2008. Or perhaps he relieved himself of his duties.
The team released a statement yesterday that reads clearly that Perry will “pursue other opportunities”, which is not normally what one would say while firing somebody. The former free safety has worked exclusively with the Packers’ safeties in that time.
According to Ryan Wood of the Green Bay Press-Gazette, Perry was viewed as a candidate to work with Mike Vrabel with the Tennessee Titans. Currently, another former Steelers defensive back, Deshea Townsend, is employed there as the defensive backs coach, but given the recent turnover, that could change.
Or could he even return to Pittsburgh? While head coach Mike Tomlin has initially indicated that there are no plans to make changes to the defensive side of the coaching staff, there is always the opportunity for that to change.
Perry is one of the more experienced defensive backs coaches in the NFL and has seemingly chosen to leave more jobs than he was fired from. He has previously coaches for the Steelers for four seasons and played for them for seven more.
It’s just an idea I’m throwing out there, of course. I’m not advocating for or against the removal of Lake, but I thought it might be of interest to those who want to see something change.