This website probably doesn’t have a whole lot of Randy Fichtner stans on it. But Mike Tomlin, clearly, is a fan. Sitting down with John Calipari on Coffee with Cal, a fantastic interview you should check out, Tomlin recalled the day he hired Fichtner.
“If you know Randy like I know Randy,” Tomlin said. “Being in this coaching profession, personalities like his, tireless workers, you can’t have enough Randy Fichtners. That was the easiest phone call I’ve ever made.”
Tomlin hired Fichtner to be the Steelers’ WR coach in 2007. Fichtner has climbed up the ladder since, promoted to QBs coach in 2010 before replacing Todd Haley as offensive coordinator in 2018. The two have deep ties, coaching together – along with DC Keith Butler – at Memphis in 1996.
Hiring Fichtner was easy but getting him on the phone to accept his first NFL job proved a bit more difficult.
“Quite honestly, he didn’t answer. I had to leave a message. I said, ‘I got the job and so do you.'”
Through two years as offensive coordinator, Fichtner has had his ups and downs. In 2018, he helped lead not only the NFL’s best red zone offense, Pittsburgh scoring 73.5% of the time, but the best red zone offense since the 2003 Kansas City Chiefs. That year, the Steelers ranked 6th in football in points per game.
Last year was the complete opposite. The 32nd ranked red zone offense and one of the worst units in football. Not everything is on Fichtner, he was dealt as difficult hand possible, but he isn’t absolved from all those failures either.
In totality, Tomlin’s enjoyed coaching alongside him.
“It’s been a nice ride with that guy. That guy is a pleasure to work with and has been. Our friendship goes back 25 years now.”
2020 is a big year for Fichtner and this offense to bounce back. With a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, JuJu Smith-Schuster, and James Conner, if this group flounders again, there’s always QB coach Matt Canada waiting in the wings.