The dynamic between Tom Bradley and Teryl Austin has been an interesting one to follow and we’re still months away from the first meaningful game. Upon being hired, Austin was billed as a senior assistant. Another voice in the room, a Western PA native with tons of NFL experience who will help Mike Tomlin with in-game decisions like challenging replays. He said as much earlier in the offseason.
“And then on gameday,” he told Missi Matthews, “I’ll be helping in terms of watching replays, different aspects of it, trying to relay down to Mike whether we have an opportunity to challenge or not challenge.”
But in logging who went where in our Pro Day tracker, Austin and Kevin Colbert felt joined at the hip. The pair traveled together to Michigan, Michigan State, and Notre Dame, while according to our notes, Bradley and Colbert were never on the same scouting trip. When it came to the draft, they took Justin Layne, who Austin worked out at Michigan State’s Pro Day and it was him, not Bradley, who spoke to the media about the selection.
As the team has come together for offseason practices, Austin has still had a critical role in coaching the secondary. After speaking to several players, PennLive’s Jacob Klinger says Austin and Bradley have split time leading the room during meetings. It was one of several takeaways in a recent article putting a bow on OTAs.
“Multiple defensive backs have described them as alternating days working with the cornerbacks or safeties as well as taking turns running defensive backfield meetings.”
The defensive coaching roles certainly are pretty layered. The outside linebackers will receive coaching from DL coach Karl Dunbar and DC Keith Butler. The secondary has Bradley and Austin. And, of course, Mike Tomlin has a strong defensive background and heavy influence on the group.
It’s not necessarily a bad thing though there’s always a concern about having too many cooks in the kitchen. The Steelers’ coaching staff has expanded in recent years. Including the hiring of William Gay and David Johnson on an intern basis, there are 19 coaches/coordinators on staff. However, the Steelers still have the fewest coaches in the AFC North. Here’s how they compare to the rest of the division.
By the time training camp starts, it would make sense for the Steelers to delegate their roles. Bradley and Austin have different perspectives to offer the team, both valuable, but someone has to be in charge of the room. By title, that would appear to be Bradley, but the actions since Austin’s hire suggest otherwise.