The Pittsburgh Steelers failed to make the playoffs for a second consecutive season in 2019 and because of that, were likely to see some sort of changes on the team’s coaching staff during the offseason. During his annual end-of-the-season press conference on Tuesday, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin was asked if he expects any movement on his coaching staff and particularly with wide receiver coach Ray Sherman possibly winding up his interim status with the team.
“I don’t have any idea,” Tomlin said. “I don’t put the coaches in front of the players. I’m visiting with players as I stand here right now. I understand that change is a part of the business and so I wouldn’t be shocked if there is some movement and changes. That’s just part of this business, particularly in 2019.”
As pointed out in the question to Tomlin, Sherman, who took over the wide receiver coach position on an interim basis in training camp following the sudden passing of Darryl Drake, might be replaced this offseason. Past Sherman, however, it’s hard to know for sure which coach, coaches or coordinators might not be retained this offseason by the Steelers.
While a large contingent of fans of the Steelers will likely attempt to have offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner run out of the town in the coming weeks due to how his unit severely under-performed in 2019 without injured starting quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, it’s ultimately hard to imagine him not surviving. Why? Because Roethlisberger likely wants to play out the final two seasons of his current contract with Fichtner as the team’s offensive coordinator due to the relationship the two have developed over the years.
While Fichtner is probably likely to return in 2020, if he indeed does, he’ll likely have a full-time quarterback coach helping him out.
“You know, in terms of the division of labor from a staff standpoint, a quarterback coach being one of them, that’s things that I evaluate as I assess the staff and how we worked and the type of foundation that we need to lay as we move forward to 2020, Tomlin said on Tuesday when asked if it would behoove the team to have a full-time quarterback coach in 2020. “I’m not opposed to that thought process, that discussion, that exploration, no doubt.”
This past two seasons, Matt Symmes, who was initially hired by the Steelers in 2018 as an offensive quality control coach, has also reportedly served as a quasi-quarterbacks coach as well.
With the way the Steelers defense played in 2019, it’s hard to imagine defensive coordinator Keith Butler not returning in that same role in 2020. If for some reason Butler were to be fired or demoted back to outside linebackers coach in the coming weeks, Teryl Austin, who was hired in 2019 to be an assistant defensive and secondary coach, would likely take over as defensive coordinator.
Could special teams coordinator Danny Smith ultimately be looking for work in the coming weeks? It’s certainly possible and of the Steelers three coordinators, he’s probably the one most at risk of losing his job between now and the beginning of February.
Steelers position coaches Shaun Sarrett and Eddie Faulkner both didn’t have great first years in their new jobs judging by the play of their respective groups, offensive line and running backs, so it will be interesting to see if both are given chances to redeem themselves in 2020.
Any coaching staff changes that are ultimately made by the Steelers this offseason will likely be finalized by the end of January and possibly by the time the 2020 Senior Bowl week gets underway.