The news shouldn’t come to you as a shock at this point but Mike Tomlin confirmed defensive coordinator Keith Butler will also coach the outside linebackers in 2019. Sitting down with Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews, Tomlin explained why he chose Butler instead of hiring a new coach.
“Keith Butler,” Tomlin said when asked who will take over that spot. “He’s going to coordinate and handle those guys directly. It’s become such a hybrid position in today’s NFL because we’re in sub-package so much that those guys work a lot with the defensive line. So I thought it was important to allow Keith Butler to travel with those guys to work with them exclusively in outside linebacker play but also lead them into a lot of their defensive line work when they’ll be working a lot with Karl Dunbar and his group.”
Last year, Pittsburgh was in their sub-package nearly 70% of the time and have been so at least 60% of the snaps for several seasons.
Joey Porter the first coach to be fired shortly after the Steelers’ regular season ended.
It still seems unclear how some things will function. Will Butler be the coach putting the OLBs through drills during training camp and practice? The answer to that seems to be yes but still not confirmed. Does he run the meetings with the group? Again, that seems likely but not yet confirmed (and who knows if it will be).
It also calls into question Butler’s role as playcaller with the new title added to his plate. Could 2019 be the year Mike Tomlin completely takes the reigns of this defense? Maybe, maybe not, but I’ll be paying close attention if Butler is the one holding the playsheet or not. He’s also entering the final year of his contract and more often than not, the Steelers opt to not renew as opposed to firing coaches. That’s what they did with both changes this year, Porter and RBs coach James Saxon.
Still, it’s hard to argue putting Butler in that role is a bad idea. It’s where he excelled as a position coach before replacing Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator. Over that time, he coached guys like James Harrison, Porter when he was a player, and LaMarr Woodley.