2023 Offseason Questions: Are Steelers Hurting Themselves With Small Coaching Staff?

The Steelers are now in their offseason after failing to reach the playoffs in 2022, coming up just a game short of sneaking in as the seventh seed. They needed help in week 18 and only got some of it, so instead they sat home and watched the playoffs with the rest of us.

On tap is figuring out how to be on the field in January and February instead of being a spectator. They started out 2-6, digging a hole that proved too deep to dig out of even if they managed to go 7-2 in the second half of the year.

Starting from the end of the regular season and leading all the way up to the beginning of the 2023 season, there are plenty of questions that need answered, starting with who will be the offensive coordinator. Which free agents will be kept? Who might be let go due to their salary? How might they tackle free agency with this new front office? We’ll try to frame the conversation in relevant ways as long as you stick with us throughout this offseason, as we have for many years.

Question: Are the Steelers hurting themselves by keeping their coaching staff small?

The Steelers have lost three on-field coaches this offseason, replacing one of them—to the best of our knowledge, the only one that was voluntary. They hired Aaron Curry to take the place of Jerry Olsavsky as inside linebackers coach. But they also lost senior defensive assistant Brian Flores and another assistant, Blaine Stewart.

Pittsburgh has one of the smallest coaching staffs in the league, especially on the defensive side of the ball where they currently only have five coaches in total. One would imagine that they will add one or two before the start of the season, yet they’ll still have a rather small staff.

But how much does that matter? After all, there are plenty of bad teams with large coaching staffs, and some good teams have small staffs. There are pros and cons to either approach, with a smaller staff being able to work closer with the players and have closer relationships.

And relationships actually matter in a teacher-student situation. You don’t have to be buddy-buddy, but the closer you are with your teacher, and the better your teacher understands how to convey his message to you, the more effective the instruction can be.

Yet it’s hard to imagine the Steelers can’t have a larger staff than they currently do. Many teams have individual safety and cornerback coaches, for example, and more general assistants who may not be assigned to a specific position or concept.

Ultimately, are the Steelers holding themselves back, hurting themselves, by maintaining a smaller staff? I doubt it has anything to do with money—assistant coaches generally aren’t going to be raking in the dough—but rather a more philosophical decision.

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