When the Pittsburgh Steelers announced that they would not be renewing the contract of defensive backs coach Tom Bradley, it was not clear whether or not it was their intention to hire somebody else, because Teryl Austin had already been working with the secondary under the title of Senior Defensive Assistant for the past two seasons—and they had never employed multiple defensive backs coaches before, even though it is not uncommon around the league.
They did eventually replace Bradley with another coach to the nominal role, however, that being Grady Brown, who has never coached at the NFL level before outside of a couple of stints as an intern, and has nearly two decades of coaching experience in college.
Like Brown, Bradley was also a long-time coach at the college level but had never held an NFL coaching position previously. Sometimes those hires work out. Sometimes they don’t. Bradley’s failure doesn’t mean that Brown will struggle. But he has to make a name for himself first, because his new charges didn’t know who he was.
“He reached out to the secondary group, introduced himself”, veteran cornerback Steven Nelson told Missi Matthews about his new position coach during a recent interview that was conducted exclusively for the team’s website and posted earlier this week.
“He said it was an honor to work with our group, and we welcomed him in”, he went on. “Prior to him coming in, I hadn’t heard of him, but I’m sure that the Steelers organization, they don’t bring in anybody that they don’t trust, that they think can get the job done”.
That’s not exactly a ringing endorsement, but of course you can’t offer one for somebody that you never heard of before, and there really is no reason for anybody in that secondary room to have heard of Brown before. There’s nothing wrong with that, and it doesn’t mean that he can’t get the job done.
It’s unclear what the connection is with Brown and the Steelers. Likely, he is just somebody that head coach Mike Tomlin and others got to know during the Pro Day circuits every year. Tomlin gets out to more of those events than most coaches in the NFL, and you do form connections and bonds through that experience.
Brown is just one of a number of new faces on the coaching staff this year, though the only one on the defensive side of the ball. Mike Sullivan was hired as quarterbacks coach after Matt Canada was promoted to offensive coordinator. With Adrian Klemm promoted to offensive line coach, Chris Morgan was hired as his assistant.
Additionally, after James Daniel tired following a lengthy career as the team’s tight ends coach, they signed Alfredo Roberts to coach the position, who has more than two decades of NFL experience. Matt Tomsho was hired as a new quality control coach as well.