Steelers Dodge Early Threat Of Losing New Coaching Hires

The Pittsburgh Steelers made two additions to their coaching staff in 2020, hiring Matt Canada as their quarterbacks coach and Ike Hilliard to be their wide receivers coach. Just one year into their tenure with the team, they arguably came close to losing at least one, if not both of them, as both ended up interviewing for offensive coordinator positions in other spots.

Given the amount of changeover that has already occurred, particularly on the offensive side of the ball, with offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner and offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett being let go and tight ends coach James Daniel retiring, it’s pretty important that they have at least this continuity.

The entirety of the offensive coaching staff that is brought in to fill in the group later this year will then consist of individuals who have been here for no longer than two full seasons, with running backs coach Eddie Faulkner, originally hired in 2019 straight from the college ranks, representing the offensive assistant coach with the longest tenure.

While Canada interviewed for an offensive coordinator position, it is expected, or at least speculated, that the Steelers will actually be promoting him to their own offensive coordinator position. If that comes to pass, then the question becomes whether or not they leave him in the role of quarterbacks coach or hire somebody else—or possibly promote one of their offensive assistants to that role.

Hilliard has a lot of experience working with young wide receiver groups, something he’s done in each of his past two years, the 2019 season coming with Washington, when he presided over the rookie season of Terry McLaurin, among others.

This past season, he managed the breakout rookie season of Chase Claypool, as well as Diontae Johnson coming into his own—outside of the bevvy of drops. James Washington and of course JuJu Smith-Schuster also contributed, the group scoring 30 receiving touchdowns between the four of them.

The Steelers have had a revolving door at the wide receivers coach position since the retirement of Richard Mann. Daryl Drake was hired in 2018, but he passed away suddenly in 2019, and had to rely on a veteran coach serving as an intern during training camp to act as the interim coach at the position.

As for quarterbacks coach, that is a job that Fichtner held for a decade starting in 2010 up until this past season when Canada was hired. Unless they retain Canada in that role or promote from within, they’ll be breaking in another new face there, twice in two years.

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