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Perspective Of An Average Steelers Fan: 2019 ‘Burgh’ Coaching Influences

With NFL training camps well underway, the coaching staffs for most teams are set for the upcoming season. Last year, I only spotted 40 coaches with some tie to Pittsburgh within the NFL coaching ranks. That was down from over 50 in 2017. Here is last June’s report on Burgher Influence in NFL Coaching Ranks.

Changing of the Burgher Guard

This year, I find 41 coaches again with links to Pittsburgh. The number of Burgher head coaches drops to four after peaking at nine in 2017. There are some changes as 10 people listed last year dropped off the list:

Kevin Greene lost his OLB coaching job when the New York Jets hired Adam Gase to be head coach who juggled the staff. Don’t the Pittsburgh Steelers need an OLB coach?

The Cincinnati Bengals finally parted ways with their longtime head coach Marvin Lewis. Arizona State hired Lewis as a special adviser in May 2019.

Jonathan Hayes lost his TE coaching position when the Bengals let Marvin Lewis go. Hayes ended up as head coach of XFL Saint Louis.

Two other former Bengals coaches showed up at Minnesota Vikings training camp this past week. Vikings coach Mike Zimmer (non-Burgher) invited Jim Haslett and Jim Philbin to observe the Vikings practice this past week.

Todd Haley has managed to stay out breaking news since the Cleveland Browns let him go. That’s good news, right?

Mike McCarthy may be taking the 2019 season off. He did interview for the New York Jets position after the Green Bay Packers let him go.

The Packers jettisoned Frank Cignetti Jr. as QB coach. No word on his current whereabouts.

Ron Zook was another former Packer coach after the 2018 season. He coached secondary and was special team’s coordinator for the Salt Lake Stallions in the short-lived AAF. Next stop?

The San Francisco 49ers fired DL coach Jeff Zgonina at the end of the 2018 season.

New Team Leads the Way

In 2017 the Arizona Cardinals led the way with eight Burgher coaches. In 2018, Green Bay led with six coaches, and Arizona & Cincinnati were tied at four. For this year, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers hired Bruce Arians and they now have crown as the coaching staff with the most Burgher connections at five.

I do stretch it a little by including some subBurghers who are a generation removed from their Black & Gold roots. I estimate that about 6.5% of all NFL coaches have some Burgher roots. Not bad when you consider that Pittsburgh’s metropolitan population is less than 1% of the national total.

There are several gaps – let me know who I missed.

The Burgher Coaching Connection List

City Team Name Position Connection
Buffalo Bills Bob Babich LB Coach Burgher (Aliquippa) Pitt coach
Miami Dolphins Jim Caldwell Asst Head Coach Penn State QB coach 1986-92
Miami Dolphins Danny Crossman Strength & Condition Pitt Player 1987-89
New England Patriots Bill Belichick Head Coach subBurgher (Father from Monessen)
Baltimore Ravens Bobby Engram TE Coach Penn State player/Pitt Coach
Cincinnati Bengals Alex Van Pelt QB Coach Burgher  Pitt QB 1989-92
Cincinnati Bengals Nick Eason DL Coach Steeler player 2007-10
Houston Texans Bill O’Brien Head Coach Penn State HC 2012-13
Indianapolis Colts Raymond Ventrone Special teams Burgher (Chartiers Valley)
Jacksonville Jaguars Scott Milanovich QB Coach Burgher (Butler)
Jacksonville Jaguars Dom Capers Senior Defense Assis Steelers D Coordinator 1992-94
Jacksonville Jaguars Tom Myslinski Strength & Condition Steelers player 1996-97, 2000
Tennessee Titans Mike Vrabel Head Coach Steelers player 1997-2000
Denver Broncos Mike Munchak OL Coach Steelers OL Coach 2014-18
Los Angeles Chargers Ken Whisenhunt Offense Coordinator Steelers TE/OC 2001-06
Los Angeles Chargers John Lott Strength & Condition Steelers player 1987
Oakland Raiders Kirby Wilson RB Coach Steelers RB Coach 2007-13
Oakland Raiders Brentson Buckner DL Coach Steelers player 1994-96 intern coach 2010-12
New York Giants Hal Hunter OL Coach Burgher (Canonsburg) Pitt OL Coach 1983-84
Philadelphia Eagles Duce Staley Asst HC & RB Steeler player 2004-06
Washington Redskins Matt Cavanaugh Senior offense assis Pitt QB 1976-78 Steeler TE coach 1992-93, OC 2005-08
Washington Redskins Jim Tomsula DL Coach Burgher (Homestead)
Washington Redskins Ray Horton DB Coach Steeler Secondary coach 2004-10
Chicago Bears Kevin Gilbride TE Coach subBurgher son of Steeler OC Kevin Gilbride
Chicago Bears Deshea Townsend DB Coach Steeler player 1998-2009
Detroit Lions Hank Fraley Asst OL Coach Robert Morris player Steelers UDFA 2000
Detroit Lions Al Golden LB Coach Penn State player & LB coach 2000
Green Bay Packers Mike Pettine Defense Coordinator Pitt Grad Assistant 1993-94
Atlanta Falcons Mike Mularkey TE Coach Steeler TE 1989-91, TE coach/OC 1996-2003
Carolina Panthers Jim Hostler WR coach Burgher, IUP coach 1992-99
Carolina Panthers Jerricho Cotchery Asst WR coach Steelers WR 2011-13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Bruce Arians Head Coach Steelers WR/OC 2004-11
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Byron Leftwich Offense Coordinator Steelers player 2010-12
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Antwan Randel El Offense Assistant Steelers WR 2002-05, 2010
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Larry Foote OLB Coach Steelers LB 2002-08 & 10-13
Tampa Bay Buccaneers Amos Jones Asst Special teams Steelers Asst & Special teams coord 2007-12
Arizona Cardinals Tom Clements QB Coach Burgher (McKees Rocks) Steelers QB coach 2001-03
Arizona Cardinals James Saxon RB Coach Steelers RB coach 2014-18
Arizona Cardinals Sean Kugler OL Coach Steelers OL Coach 2010-12
Arizona Cardinals Buddy Morris Strength & Condition Pitt strength coach 1980-89, 97-01, Burgher
Seattle Seahawks Brian Schottenheimer Offense Coordinator subBurgher – son of Burgher Marty Schottenheimer

Song Selection

I always like to include some music. Coming Back Home.  This version by Bebe Winans, Brian McKnight.

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