The NFL is often attributed to the quote “Not For Long” for a variety of reasons such as injury, or just the cut-throat nature of the business when it comes to competition level. The offseason is a chance for players and coaches to gain a leg up on their opposition, whether that’s in the weight room, immersing themselves in the playbook and for coaches, studying game film to recognize strengths as well as need areas. For secondary coach Grady Brown, who’s now entering his sophomore season, he sat down earlier with Steelers Team Reporter Missi Matthews to discuss several things, including a close relationship with new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, who formerly was the team’s secondary coach, as well as preparations he’s made on his own behalf.
Prior to coming to Pittsburgh, Brown was either a defensive coordinator or a secondary coach at colleges like the University of Houston, McNeese State, or Louisville, among others. One major difference he noted adapting to at the pro level was the divisional scheduling, which obviously pits those foes against each other twice per season. Brown did make it clear that he won’t be attempting to reinvent the wheel, as his secondary will feature many of the same returning faces from last year, minus cornerback Joe Haden, who still remains a free agent.
“Really, just prepare the same way,” Brown told Matthews on the Steelers Live Twitter page. “Last year, reflection and study offenses in the off season, what’s trending in the NFL and where can we get better? What were our deficiencies, what did we do well? And again, what mistakes did we make last year that offenses didn’t capitalize on?”
After leading the league in sacks for a fifth consecutive season, one goal of the defense overall will likely be to amp up the interception numbers, as free-agent returnee Ahkello Witherspoon led the club last season with three picks. Perhaps an improved run defense will help aid that, as ball-hawking All-Pro free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick was forced to take on far too many tackles last season as teams ran roughshod on the ground, frequently breaking into the secondary for big gains.
Now that Austin is officially the DC, Brown will undoubtedly take on a bigger piece of the pie when it comes to responsibilities of his unit. However, one can expect Austin to stay very hands-on with the position group that’s near and dear to him.
“We’re still a unit, he’s a secondary coach, by trade. And so, he’ll remain a secondary coach, but there is more responsibility on my shoulders, certainly.”