Keith Butler’s retirement news isn’t surprising. Nor is the news of his replacement. According to Pro Football Network’s Aaron Wilson, defensive assistant/secondary coach Teryl Austin is expected to replace Butler as the Steelers’ next defensive coordinator.
Austin has been rumored to be Butler’s replacement since the season ended. A Western PA native (Sharon) who attended Pitt, he was hired by the team in 2019 as an assistant, helping in the secondary and assisting Mike Tomlin with challenges and other gameday decisions. He served as the de facto secondary coach, even though he didn’t officially hold the title, over Tom Bradley, who was not retained following the 2020 season.
Pittsburgh hired Grady Brown in February of last year to be the team’s official secondary coach.
In the NFL, Austin has served as defensive coordinator with two teams: The Detroit Lions from 2014 to 2017 and a year with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018, though he was fired midway through the year, one day after allowing 51 points in a loss to the New Orleans Saints. The Tennessee Titans interviewed him to be their DC last year but did not hire him.
Austin is regarded as a smart, experienced coach who earned some head coach buzz years ago. With the Steelers, he’s focused heavily on creating turnovers, something this defense has done well during his tenure.
Ultimately, Mike Tomlin runs the show defensively and that should continue even with Austin’s promotion.
Here’s an article we wrote shortly after his hire that goes through some of the things Austin stresses to his players.