Steelers News

DB Coach Grady Brown Believes A DC Role Is In His Future, Sees Coaching At Senior Bowl As Showcase Opportunity

Though first earning a full-time coaching position in the NFL in 2021 under Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin, secondary coach Grady Brown is no spring chicken. He’s been at it for decades, his first coaching post being at Alabama A&M in 2001 coaching outside linebackers, where he graduated with a mathematics degree in 1998.

Now in his mid-40s, he’s not taking the opportunity in front of him lightly. He may have just two years of NFL coaching experience, but his ambitions go higher than position coach, something he talked about while working with draft prospects down at the Senior Bowl as one of the coaches participating.

After being in the NFL for two years now and getting a better handle on the game and seeing what our game is about, I believe I have the talent to be a coordinator at some point in my career”, he told Dale Lolley for the team’s website, though he understands that may not come instantly.

“Right now, it’s just about doing the best job I can do as with the position that I have, trying to make sure everybody is reaching their potential as a player. I believe that is my job as a coach. Everything else will take care of itself”.

Getting more exposure down at the Senior Bowl is significant in and of itself, perhaps especially in his case, as Steelers defensive coordinator Teryl Austin, at least before this season, had been perceived as the de facto secondary coach.

But Brown is now the only coach on the staff whose title is associated with the secondary. And his unit led the league in interceptions with 20, including six from first-team All-Pro safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who became the first Steeler to lead the league in interceptions since the 1970s.

The Senior Bowl recently changed its procedures to call for mixed coaching units culled from teams around the league rather than having a team’s entire staff work the event. Part of the reason was to be able to provide younger and less experienced coaches the chance to gain exposure.

“Absolutely it’s an opportunity”, Brown acknowledged. “Mike T was down here and there were other head coaches. Our GM, Omar [Khan] is here. So, certainly, it’s an opportunity for coaches to be evaluated. It’s a job interview for all of us. And that’s what I told the players. They’ll get our best effort, for sure, because we’re all being evaluated”.

The Steelers have not had a coach hired to a promotion within the NFL since the Arizona Cardinals in 2010 hired defensive backs coach Ray Horton to be their defensive coordinator. Horton was in Pittsburgh for seven seasons before that opportunity came, and he had been an NFL assistant since 1994 prior to that, shortly after ending a 10-year playing career.

Few Steelers coaches have even taken interviews. Former offensive line coach Mike Munchak was interviewed for a head coach or offensive coordinator position a time or two; he ended up taking a lateral position in Denver to be closer to his daughter and grandchild.

Most immediately, senior defensive assistant Brian Flores has taken interviews for head coach and defensive coordinator positions this offseason. Though he is still in the mix, it seems his opportunities for the 2023 offseason may be dwindling.

Should Brown eventually earn a defensive coordinator or head coaching job straight from Pittsburgh, the Steelers would be entitled to two third-round draft picks as compensation. Flores would not qualify unless he spends another season here first.

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