The Pittsburgh Steelers are now into the offseason, following a year in which they had high hopes for Super Bowl success, but ultimately fell short of even reaching the postseason at 8-8. It was a tumultuous season, both on the field and within the roster, and the months to follow figure to have some drama as well, especially in light of the team’s failure to improve upon the year before.
The team made some bold moves over the course of the past year, and some areas of the roster look quite a bit different than they did a year ago, or even at the start of the regular season. Whether due to injuries or otherwise, a lot has transpired, and we’re left to wonder how much more will change prior to September.
How will Ben Roethlisberger’s rehab progress as he winds toward recovery from an elbow injury that cost him almost the entire season? What about some of the key young players, some of whom have already impressed, others still needing quite a bit of growth? Will there be changes to the coaching staff? The front office? Who will they not retain in free agency, and whom might they bring in?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: What is the best coaching move, whether hiring or firing, or sticking with a coach, that Mike Tomlin has made in recent years?
It was typically the case over the course of most of his first decade with the Steelers that Tomlin would not fiddle much with his coaching staff. In recent years, however, we have seen multiple moves every offseason, many of them voluntary decisions rather than moves that have been forced upon him.
With one pending decision left to be made this offseason—the fulfilment of the wide receiver coach position—I thought it would be a fun exercise to look back at some of the recent staffing decisions that Tomlin has made during the past few years and try to evaluate them.
For me, the best move that he made was hiring Karl Dunbar as the defensive line coach. No single coach had a longer tenure with the team than John Mitchell, but it does seem as though the defensive line has responded well to Dunbar, who actually is something of a protégé of his.
One also can’t ignore the fact that the outside linebackers had their best season in years in 2019 after letting Joey Porter go—even if T.J. Watt was already having a very good season the year before. Still, I have a feeling that many will take note of this and mention it in the comments.