Teryl Austin is one of multiple new hires, additions that the Pittsburgh Steelers and Mike Tomlin have made to the coaching staff. Austin is, however, the only one of those additions for which was created a new role, officially being named a senior defensive assistant with a specialty in the defensive backfield. All of the other hires were merely replacements for existing roles.
Austin’s role is in part the expansion of the coaching staff for the defensive backs, as he is now working with Tom Bradley, formally the defensive backs coach, who was a first-year hire in 2018, his first job at the NFL level after spending decades coaching in college.
Austin spoke recently in an interview broadcast through The Fan in which he discussed his relationship with Bradley, with whom he in fact had worked before when he was a graduate assistant in the early 1990s. “It’s been fine”, he said. “I’ve known Tom for 100 years. He’s a lot older than me. It’s been really good”.
“What we do is we try to divide the work up so that our guys know that they can get [help] from either one of us”, he explained about the division of labor between the coaches. “There’s not like, ‘oh, go talk to him’. That’s how we want our room. We want it to be a collaborative effort, and we want everybody to buy in, because it’s our room. It’s not my room, it’s not Tom’s room, it’s not Joe’s room. It’s our room. And we want our guys to buy in that way”.
It bears a lot of similarities, for good reason, to how the team has divided up the offensive line room. Mike Munchak and Shaun Sarrett, especially in the later years of their working together, essentially functioned in the same role, with each focusing on one group on a particular day.
“The thing we do is we try to make sure when we come on the field, and when we’re in the meeting room, we’re telling our guys the same thing”, Austin said. “So it doesn’t matter—sometimes we may say it differently, but we’re trying to get the same point across, and I think that’s why our guys have responded well”.
Our own Alex Kozora has observed, in contrast, that it almost appears as though Austin is running the ship for the most part, though there is only so much that we can say for certain as outside observers. I will say that Austin has been the one that has been communicating with the media, however.
The hire was made, of course, in the name of improving the secondary, and the defense as a whole, so as long as it works toward achieving that purpose, that’s all the ultimately matters, regardless of who is carrying out what responsibilities.