The Pittsburgh Steelers, even historically, have been a team that is reluctant to embracing change in certain areas, such as in the use of technology and in an expanded coaching staff. Even today, President Art Rooney II, for example, remains largely against the use of replay. They still have among the smallest coaching staffs in the NFL, even after adding a new position this offseason.
That would be Teryl Austin’s new job of Senior Defensive Assistant/Secondary. While that is his title, the full scope of his role is yet to be determined—not by us, but by Head Coach Mike Tomlin and the team. He is obviously working with Tom Bradley to coach the secondary, and we know that he has other roles, such as in serving as an advisor during challenge situations.
“I’ll find out why they were overturned or not overturned, so I can formulate a plan of, when I see something, I think this can possibly be overturned or okay, keep the flag in your pocket it won’t be”, he told Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette last week.
That’s one role that he’ll have. But it’s likely that there will be other responsibilities given to him over the course of time, provided that he deems himself worthy of those tasks. Tomlin brought him in specifically because he is a known commodity.
“Our paths have been intertwined for a number of years going all the way back to college in the late ‘90s”, he said during minicamp of Austin last week. “I’ve always had a great deal of respect for him. His experience and expertise will be an asset to us”.
“But we’re so early in the journey”, he added, “it’s untold the positive impacts that his inclusion is going to have on the staff. Just know that we’re extremely comfortable and glad that he’s here”.
In other words, they haven’t filled his plate yet. Since he is sort of an ‘extra’ coach—I’m not aware of any other time in their history in which they have had an additional defensive backs coach who wasn’t simply a coaching assistant—they appear to be interested in seeing how much in how many different areas he can bring to the table.
Austin is a veteran with many years of experience in the coaching ranks, and even up until recently has had his name circulated in the head coaching pool. After he accepted the defensive coordinator job for the Cincinnati Bengals last year, some wondered if he wouldn’t succeed Marvin Lewis as head coach, as was once the plan for Hue Jackson.
So he is a coach in whom the Steelers really believe, somebody whom they think can contribute positively to their efforts in a number of different ways. He is not just going to be teaching defensive backs how to back pedal; he’ll have his hands in a number of different facets, as time goes on.