Much of the focus for the Pittsburgh Steelers this offseason has been on the changes made to the offense, understandably, with the coaching staff being heavily revised and revamped. Multiple key coaches were replaced with in-house promotions, while other spots on the back end were swapped out as well.
They did add, or rather replace, one coach on the defensive side of the ball, however. After opting not to renew defensive backs coach Tom Bradley’s contract, they hired Grady Brown for the same role. Like Bradley, this is his first job in the NFL, but has had a lengthy coaching career in college.
As the secondary is in flux, it’s only fitting perhaps that the coaching staff adjusts as well, and cornerback Cameron Sutton, one of the players who will be asked to step up this year, was asked about how Brown is fitting in, following OTAs today.
“GB’s been a great addition to us so far. I don’t see him not continuing that”, he said. “It’s great, too, because him and his background, he’s already encountered a lot of guys, whether it’s been recruiting or throughout the years. A lot of guys had a small relationship with him leading into the year”.
With stops at Alabama State, Southern Miss, South Carolina, Louisville, and elsewhere, Brown has been in many locations serving many roles as recruiter, so it would be no surprise if he’s come across many of those he’s now coaching before during that process. But now he doesn’t have to recruit, just instruct, along with Teryl Austin.
“He’s just expanding that role of TA”, Sutton said. “It’s not necessarily right now taking guys in different rooms or learning different things. Obviously, to move around practice, TA might work with a certain group and GB might work with another group, just to keep practice moving fluid”.
“That’s coaching”, he added. “As far as meetings and everything, we’re all together, and I think that’s the best way, one, as an individual group learning, and two, just being able to come together as a whole defense, because we all see everything the same way out there on the field. You take out that gray area”.
We don’t have a chance to see this first-hand yet, though we will once we get to training camp. Players often described the dynamic between Austin and Bradley in similar terms, but informal observations seemed to suggest that it was Austin, for the most part, running the show.
Austin is officially a Senior Defensive Assistant on the team with an emphasis on the secondary, but many have viewed him as the de facto defensive backs coach, and assumed that Bradley would not have an internal replacement. But in this era of the game, it’s certainly wise to have multiple coaches focusing on the secondary.