2021 Offseason Questions: Are Steelers Done Assembling Coaching Staff?

Mike Tomlin and Keith Butler

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

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: Is the Steelers’ coaching staff now complete (minus an assistant offensive line coach) with the hiring of Mike Sullivan as quarterbacks coach?

The Steelers lost four coaches since last offseason, allowing the contracts of three to expire, while another retired. They promoted from within twice, hired two outside candidates, including one to take the job of one of the coaches they promoted, and at least so far appear to have declined to fill the other void.

While Adrian Klemm’s promotion from assistant offensive line coach to head offensive line coach means that they need to make another hire to bring in an assistant, the hiring of Mike Sullivan to replace Matt Canada’s vacated quarterbacks coach job following his promotion to offensive coordinator means that Mike Tomlin may be done assembling his staff.

Is he, though? Teryl Austin is fully capable of coaching the team’s defensive backs, but they did let their formally titled defensive backs coach, Tom Bradley, walk out the door without a new contract. They have almost always only had one man coaching the defensive backs, but it seemed as though they liked having two the past couple of years.

Other than the possibility of hiring another defensive backs coach (perhaps an assistant?), there are always other possibilities. Run game coordinator. Outside linebackers coach. The Steelers have among the smallest assembled coaching staffs in the NFL.

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