2023 Offseason Questions: How Should Players Like Buddy Johnson Reflect On ILB Coaching?

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 answering, 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: How should the careers of players like Buddy Johnson and Ulysees Gilbert III reflect on the position coach at inside linebacker?

The Steelers made a change to their coaching staff this year, though not the one so many hoped for. Rather than fire offensive coordinator Matt Canada, they added Aaron Curry as their new inside linebackers coach. Nominally, he replaces Jerry Olsavsky, who had the job for the better part of a decade, but some have reported that Brian Flores ran most of that show last year.

Questions in this vein can be asked of any position coach, but in hindsight, it’s fair to ask: how do the careers of players like Buddy Johnson and Ulysees Gilbert III reflect on the coaching at the position in recent years?

Now, we have to note that Johnson was drafted in 2021. Olsavsky lost his wife later that year and spent time away from the team. And if he didn’t do a lot of coaching last season, that’s understandable. Nevertheless, Johnson was coached by somebody, yet he couldn’t make the 53-man roster in his second season.

Gilbert was only a sixth-round pick, but he seemed to show a fair amount of promise as a rookie. Of course, we can also discuss Devin Bush, their first-round pick in the same year. Travis Feeney is another late-round pick who went nowhere.

I would surmise that the general opinion is the Steelers need to get better performance out of their inside linebacker group, which hasn’t been the same since Ryan Shazier’s injury. Now they do have a new position coach in that spot, and we’ll have to see what he can do with—well, whoever happens to be there this year aside from Mark Robinson.

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