Steelers News

Dulac: Steelers Plan To Divide DB Between CB, S With Austin And Bradley

Gerry Dulac reported a few days ago that the Pittsburgh Steelers were interested in adding a new coaching position to the staff. That came to fruition yesterday when they hired former Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin to be a defensive assistant, with a focus on the secondary.

According to Dulac, the Steelers are expected to divide the secondary responsibilities between Austin and defensive backs coach Tom Bradley, with one focusing on the cornerbacks and one on the safeties. He did not specify which coach would focus on which position.

This is an approach similar to how they have divided up other positions in recent years. When the Steelers promoted Keith Butler from linebackers coach to defensive coordinator, they created separate jobs for inside linebacker and outside linebacker, those jobs going to Jerry Olsavsky and Joey Porter, respectively. The outside linebacker position is of course vacant at the moment.

The Steelers also seemingly have divided up the coaching responsibilities along the offensive line between Mike Munchak, the offensive line coach, and Shaun Sarrett, his assistant. One would focus on the interior and the other on the tackles.

The Steelers for many years have had one of the smallest coaching staffs in the league, but have been expanding in this manner in recent years. Yet even as they expand, they have been retracting in other areas, with Randy Fichtner serving as offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach this past year. Butler may subsume the outside linebacker duties in 2019 as well.

Because the Steelers spend so much time in sub-packages including additional defensive backs, it’s no surprise that the team would want to bring in more coaches that are capable of focusing on this area. Dulac adds that this is the reason for the move.

“Steelers wanted an additional secondary coach because they were in sub-package defenses nearly 80 percent of the time this season”, he wrote on Twitter. “That means they have five to seven defensive backs on the field at any one time”.

It goes without saying that the nickel defense has become Pittsburgh’s base package, which is pretty much the case for every team in the league. But they also spend a significant amount of time in their dime package with six defensive backs, and have flirted with the ‘dollar’ defense with seven on the field at the same time.

Considering the fact that most of the team’s communication problems have been in the secondary, I certainly can’t find anything wrong with them adding an additional coach to work in the back end. Austin’s NFL experience can also be an asset to Bradley, whose coaching career was only at the college level prior to last season.

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