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‘Collaborative Conversations’ Bringing Best Out In Steelers’ Defense

Great ideas can come from everywhere, and the Pittsburgh Steelers aren’t leaving any stone unturned. They’ve assembled a strong group of defensive-minded coaches, a unit run by Mike Tomlin, but a group that builds the gameplan and adds ideas as a team. Speaking with Steelers.com’s Mike Prisuta in a recent interview for iHeart Radio, linebackers coach Brian Flores discussed how the group is coming together.

“Working with Teryl Austin, Karl Dunbar, Jerry Olsavsky, Mike Time’s in the room,” Flores told Prisuta. “And then our young guys are bright. Grady Brown, Denzel Martin and Gerald Alexander. It’s a room where there’s a lot of collaborative conversations.”

Much of that group is being carried over from last year. Flores headlines the new additions, fired as the Miami Dolphins’ head coach that led to lawsuits against them, other teams, and the league. With litigation causing teams to stay away, Tomlin made the decision to bring Flores on board. He’s one of the brightest defensive minds in football, and though the circumstances in which he became an option are unfortunate, the Steelers will undoubtedly benefit. Replacing the retired Keith Butler, Austin is in his first year as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator, though he comes with plenty of experience in that role. Dunbar is one of the most underrated coaches on staff while Olsavsky has been with the organization for years, first as a player and now a coach.

As Flores mentioned, Brown is a bright mind as the team’s DBs coach while Martin caught Mike Tomlin’s eye during a Missouri Pro Day. Martin now works closely with Dunbar and the Steelers’ EDGE rushers. Yesterday during a special teams session, he was working with T.J. Watt on pass rush moves. Alexander is a new name I didn’t realize was on-staff. A former second-round pick in 2007 who played in the league for several years, he most recently worked with Flores in Miami, serving as the team’s DBs Coach. Alexander isn’t listed on the team site, making it unclear if he’s here just for the summer or if he’ll work with the team throughout the regular season.

Flores explained how those backgrounds and perspectives come together to benefit the team.

“Everyone’s got different experiences, doing things a certain way. But at the end of the day, we’re always trying to come to a common ground about the things that we do best that our players do best. That they can execute at a high level that they can do fast but there is not a lack of ideas at all. And that’s been exciting. I know I’ve learned a lot in just my small amount of time here.”

Pittsburgh will be reliant on a strong and sturdy defense last year, one they didn’t have a year ago. Aside from a high volume of sacks and pressure, the Steelers’ defense struggled, last against the run and not forcing enough turnovers for a unit who led the league in sacks. With an offense figuring things out, the defense has a lot of room for improvement and little margin for error.

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