2021 Offseason Questions: Will Steelers Hire Another DB Coach?

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: Will the Steelers hire another defensive backs coach or simply leave Teryl Austin in that role?

Since hiring Teryl Austin to be a senior defensive assistant in 2019, he has essentially been serving as the team’s defensive backs coach over Tom Bradley, who nominally held that title, based on observations that have been made, for example, from training camp and things of that nature.

While players have over the past two years talked about how they would split up duties and share them equally, that didn’t always seem to line up with what was seen and heard. It was no great shock when it was announced that Bradley’s contract was not going to be renewed. At the same time, we have been told that Austin was given a new two-year contract.

The Steelers have never really been a team that had multiple defensive backs coaches, but it is something that many teams employ. They have consistently had among the smallest coaching staffs in the NFL, with Austin’s role as senior defensive assistant being a new one.

Will they hire another coach to help work with the secondary in some capacity, perhaps this time formally under Austin? Or will they simply let him handle the job all by himself? He is also tasked with performing other duties outside of being a position coach, so somebody could help take things off his plate.

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