Perhaps in contrast to most, I’m not looking for the Pittsburgh Steelers to do any firings within the coaching staff this offseason. There is a significant amount of people who would like to see Randy Fichtner fired, to be sure, and those still against Keith Butler. Many also want to see the team hire Bill Callahan to replace Shaun Sarrett following his first season as the primary offensive line coach.
I can live with all of that, quite frankly. The defense was more than fine. The offense was riddled with injuries. The offensive line for the most part did its part, with the novice quarterbacks fudging things up for them, at least until late in the season when they started having inexplicable assignment breakdowns. Those are more likely to be an aberration, however.
If there’s anything I’d like to see changed, it’s to give somebody the full-time quarterbacks coach job. Fichtner doesn’t need to be serving two roles, especially when your backup quarterbacks are so young. Matt Symmes has been the de facto quarterbacks coach, somewhat, but I would also be open to them bringing in somebody from outside of the organization.
And apparently one name that would be interested is Bruce Gradkowski, the Pittsburgh native and former backup quarterback for the Steelers, who was with the team for four years between 2013 and 2016, though his last two years he spent on IR.
.@bgradkowski5 tells @937theFan he’s still interested in being an NFL QB coach. Interviewed for the Rams QB coach job last year. Was the runner-up. He graded every pass in the NFL this year for @PFF. Has played with Ben and under Tomlin. Would be a great Steelers hire.
— Andrew Fillipponi (@ThePoniExpress) January 2, 2020
A journeyman as a former sixth-round pick, Gradkowski was not a great player at his position by any means, having thrown more interceptions than touchdowns, but he always had a mind for the game, and Ben Roethlisberger appreciated having him there.
Currently working for Pro Football Focus in evaluating quarterbacks, Gradkowski has previously interviewed for quarterback coaching jobs, specifically with the Los Angeles Rams last year. Obviously he didn’t get the job. But you know he would love to interview for the job with the Steelers.
Pittsburgh hasn’t had a new voice in the quarterback room since 2010, when Fichtner was moved over from wide receivers coach into that role. He had maintained that job for the past two years despite having been named offensive coordinator as well.
It’s one thing for Roethlisberger to have Fichtner there. But if your backups are Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges—and you invested in Rudolph with a mind toward him being a legitimate candidate as your heir apparent—you would think that you might want to pay more attention to the quarterback coaching role.
I’m not saying Gradkowski should be the team’s next quarterbacks coach. But it certainly wouldn’t hurt them to address this area of the coaching staff this offseason, considering the inexperience at the position behind Roethlisberger.