I don’t think that many people shed a tear when Pittsburgh Steelers Head Coach Mike Tomlin announced that he had made the decision that the team would not be renewing the contract of Joey Porter to serve as their outside linebackers coach heading into the 2019 season.
In spite of the recent emergence of T.J. Watt over the past two years, his success as a position coach has not been viewed favorably on the whole, and he has also been cited as potentially a part of what is seen as the cultural problem within the locker room that is causing issues for the team right now.
Soon after the decision was announced, Mike Prisuta, who among other things works for the Steelers’ website, Tweeted that he had been told by some offensive players late in the season that the outside linebackers coach was trying to ‘pit the offense and defense against each other’ and creating divisiveness in that way.
As we saw last week, many of Porter’s pupils, the outside linebackers, took to Twitter to defend their former coach, quoting Prisuta’s original Tweet and responding by denying the allegations. Even Ryan Shazier weighed in. Jeremy Fowler Tweeted that Bud Dupree told him Porter instructed them not to meddle into the Antonio Brown situation, and that the offense “doesn’t ever share problems”.
The thing that I couldn’t help but notice, however, is the fact that, at least as far as I’ve seen, none of the offensive players actually stuck up for Porter. Sure, his own players that he worked with every day and was responsible for instructing went to bat for him. It’s worth noting that all of the responses came five days after the original Tweet following a group chat the position held to discuss it.
But according to Prisuta, it was offensive players who were going up to him and complaining about the way that Porter was facilitating a schism between the offensive and defensive players. One might think that at least one of those offensive players would want to try to set the record straight if what the veteran journalist said was not true.
It may well be true and may well be something that the outside linebackers were not aware of or were not observant of. Perhaps they didn’t view something or other as divisive while the offensive players did. But the fact of the matter is that the team chose to move on from him, whatever that reason might be.
In the meantime, the Steelers are still weighing their options regarding how they want to proceed to fill the coaching void left in his absence. They are reportedly not committed to hiring a new outside linebackers coach and may divide those responsibilities between defensive coordinator Keith Butler, Tomlin, and defensive line coach Karl Dunbar.