Study: Do The Steelers Really Have The NFL’s Smallest Coaching Staff?

It’s a line we’ve heard many times from Steelers’ fans: Pittsburgh is too cheap with its coaching staff. They don’t pay well enough and can’t bring in any big-name coaches (though Mike Tomlin’s salary proves they’re willing to at least retain top talent). And their penny-pinching ways is why the team has the smallest coaching staff in the league.

The question I’ve had is: is any of that true?

Now, we won’t be able to determine the price of Pittsburgh’s coaching staff. We don’t have a full list of salaries, those aren’t publicly available. What we can at least do is look at the size of the coaching staff. Does Pittsburgh really have one of the smallest groups in the league? Or is this another tired trope?

With 2022 coaching staffs assembled, I’ve gone through and tallied how many coaches are on each staff. I’ve also broken it down by side of the ball: offensive, defensive, and special teams coaches to see if the distribution tells us anything either.

Here are the results. I’ve ordered this by the largest number of total coaches in the league. Unfortunately, I can’t make the columns sortable for you to break it down by all three sides of the ball.

Before we jump in, a few short disclaimers:

*It is worth noting some coaching staffs could change. The Patriots, for example, still seem to have a skeleton crew of names. Already as of this posting, the Colts have made an additional defensive hire and the table has been updated to reflect that.

*You’ll notice the total number of coaches never match with the combination of offense/defense/special teams. That’s because the head coach isn’t designated for any side of the ball. Occasionally, teams will have assistants and not specify which side they work so I don’t put them in either category, too.

*Coaching changes have still been occurring during the month of March and my information is as up-to-date as I can possibly make it by cross-referencing team sites and Wikipedia pages. At times, each had inaccuracies and Wikipedia actually proved to be generally more reliable. About three hours of work was me just matching up present-day coaching staffs.

If you see a mistake, please let me know in the comments below. Anyway, let’s get to the data.

Team Total Coaches Off. Coaches Def. Coaches ST Coaches
Miami Dolphins 27 12 11 3
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 26 12 8 4
San Francisco 49ers 24 11 9 3
Minnesota Vikings 24 11 10 2
Cleveland Browns 23 11 9 2
Jacksonville Jaguars 23 11 9 2
Tennessee Titans 23 11 9 2
Denver Broncos 23 10 10 2
Baltimore Ravens 22 9 9 3
Washington Commanders 22 11 8 2
Kansas City Chiefs 22 10 8 2
Detroit Lions 22 10 9 2
Green Bay Packers 22 10 8 3
New Orleans Saints 22 11 8 2
Seattle Seahawks 22 11 8 2
Carolina Panthers 22 9 10 2
Philadelphia Eagles 22 10 7 3
New York Giants 22 10 8 3
Atlanta Falcons 21 10 8 2
Dallas Cowboys 21 8 8 2
Buffalo Bills 21 9 9 2
Los Angeles Chargers 21 10 8 2
Los Angeles Rams 21 10 8 2
Arizona Cardinals 21 10 8 2
Indianapolis Colts 21 10 8 2
Houston Texans 20 9 8 2
New York Jets 20 8 8 3
Chicago Bears 20 9 8 2
Cincinnati Bengals 20 9 8 2
Las Vegas Raiders 18 8 7 2
Pittsburgh Steelers 18 9 7 1
New England Patriots 17 6 7 2


The Steelers, as you can tell, are nearly at the bottom for fewest coaches in football. In this instance, the accusation of the Steelers’ staff is accurate. They have just 18 coaches and don’t seem intent on adding any others, one more than the league low held by New England, who are straight up missing key spots on their staff like offensive line coach. I’m also counting their RBs Coach Ivan Fears, who was believed to be retiring but no official announcement has been made and he’s still listed on their website. Pittsburgh and Las Vegas are the only two teams with just 18 coaches. They and New England are the only squads who don’t even hit the 20-coach mark.

For Pittsburgh, they have nine offensive coaches: OC Matt Canada, QBs Coach Mike Sullivan, RBs Coach Eddie Faulkner, WRs Coach Frisman Jackson, assistant WRs Coach Blaine Stewart, O-line coach Pat Meyer, assistant O-line coach Isaac Williams, TEs Coach Alfredo Roberts, and offensive assistant Matt Tomsho (Canada’s right-hand man who has followed him around over the years).

Defensively, they have seven coaches: DC Teryl Austin, DL Coach Karl Dunbar, LB Coaches Brian Flores and Jerry Olsavsky, Assistant OLBs Coach Denzel Martin, DBs Coach Grady Brown, and assistant John Mitchell (who does some on-field work so I am counting him here).

They also have one special teams coach, Danny Smith, who is assisted by guys like Stewart and Martin. But they do not hold official titles in that capacity. Interestingly, the Steelers are the only team in football who have just one coach carrying a special teams title. Every other club has at least one officially named assistant while some teams have three or four.

The largest staff in the league goes to the new group Mike McDaniel is putting together in South Beach. Miami has a whopping 27 coaches, one of two teams with 12 on offense and the only team with 11 on defense.

So what does this all mean? Interpretations can vary. Having a large coaching staff doesn’t automatically make you a better team. There is the idea of “too many cooks in the kitchen” that I’m sure some teams consider. Too many voices, not a clear enough message being sent. Of course, a larger group of coaches can help solve problems faster, put less of a burden on just a handful of people, and provide more individualized attention. It also says nothing of other parts of team organization like analytics staffs, of which the Steelers have a small group there, too.

But just based on the numbers, it is absolutely true that for 2022 at least, the Steelers have among the smallest coaching staffs in football. For better or for worse.

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