It’s been a number of years now since the Pittsburgh Steelers have had a stable secondary, which is something that I have spent some time going back and looking into earlier this offseason. They haven’t entered from one season to the next with the same starting secondary since Ryan Clark was here.
In other words, the Steelers have experienced a lot of adjustment and turnover, though the coach was stable for that period. Carnell Lake was the team’s defensive backs coach for the past seven seasons, but the personnel has shuffled extensively, in large part due to the retirement of players like Ike Taylor and Troy Polamalu.
The team has continued to make changes in personnel, but they have also added a new defensive backs coach this offseason in Tom Bradley, who takes over for Lake after the latter chose to resign his post in order to move back to the west coast.
Bradley inherits a secondary in which no player on the roster has spent more than two season on the 53-man roster, though that does include a pair of established veterans in Joe Haden and Morgan Burnett who have been added within the past year.
Burnett was signed this offseason, as was Nat Berhe, and the Steelers also drafted Terrell Edmunds and Marcus Allen, so there was a pretty decent amount of turnover in the secondary—specifically at the safety position—in addition to the change at the position coach, which means more transition.
As a result, Ray Fittipaldo says, “the spring was a big acclimation period for the defensive backs. They tried to straighten out new terminology and a new way of doing things under Bradley”.
The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer said that he spoke to a number of members of the secondary, “and they all thought any issues would be worked out before camp started. So what I saw in OTAs and minicamp was a lot of on-field teaching and instructing”.
He also talked about how we have heard about a lot of proposed changes that we haven’t actually seen yet. The biggest thing is the dime defense and the use of a third safety, but the Steelers did not even install the dime defense by the time they wrapped up in minicamp.
“We all have been hearing for weeks how this defense is going to change, but we saw no signs of change in the spring”, Fittipaldo wrote. “We all think we will see it in camp, but who knows what will happen. We’ll have to wait and find out”.
The 2018 training camp in Latrobe is shaping up, in my opinion, to be one of the more intriguing ones to follow in terms of storylines in recent years. The changes being made in the secondary is just one of multiple significant narratives to keep an eye on.