One of the biggest knocks against Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is his lack of a coaching tree around the league, along with having a relatively small coaching staff compared to other NFL teams.
Currently, the Steelers have just 17 coaches on the staff after losing Brian Flores and Blaine Stewart to the Minnesota Vikings and West Virginia University, respectively, as well as the retirement of John Mitchell and the firing of Jerry Olsavsky. They did hire Aaron Curry and Jason Brooks, both defensive coaches.
Last season, according to a study put together by Steelers Depot’s own Alex Kozora, the Steelers had the second-smallest coaching staff in football with just 18 coaches, just ahead of the New England Patriots. How they’ll stack up across the league this season remains to be seen, but the Steelers staff remains rather small.
That doesn’t bother Mike Tomlin, who truly believes that less is more.
“I’d rather overwork ’em than under work ’em, you know what I mean?” Tomlin said to reporters at the annual owners meetings in Arizona Monday, according to audio via Good Morning Football on NFL Network. “I think it’s a benefit in small numbers. It’s easier to keep the group coordinated and on one accord to have that one voice that is critical in culture building.
“So, small is better for me, but you better have enough to get the job done. And I realize that we’re probably on the smaller side as, as far as staff staffing goes, but that’s the agenda for us.”
Pittsburgh has nine offensive coaches: OC Matt Canada, QB Coach Mike Sullivan, RB Coach Eddie Faulkner, WR Coach Frisman Jackson, OL Coach Pat Meyer, assistant OL Coach Isaac Williams, TE Coach Alfredo Roberts, and Offensive Assistant Matt Tomsho, Canada’s right-hand man who has followed him over the years to various stops.
Defensively, the Steelers have six coaches: DC Teryl Austin, DL Coach Karl Dunbar, LB Aaron Curry, Assistant OLB Coach Denzel Martin, DB Coach Grady Brown, and Jason Brooks, who is the new defensive quality control coach.
They also have one special teams coach in Danny Smith. He is usually assisted by Martin though that role could fall to Brooks moving forward.
Compared to other teams across the league, it’s a small coaching staff. That doesn’t make it better or worse than others, just based on numbers alone. Last season, Miami had the most coaches under first-year head coach Mike McDaniel with 27. Tampa Bay had 26 coaches under Todd Bowles. Miami went 9-8 last season and lost in the first round of the playoffs. Tampa Bay went 8-9 though it won the putrid NFC South and made the playoffs before losing in the first round.
As Tomlin said, you better have enough to get the job done. In the past, the small coaching staff has worked for the Steelers, but in recent seasons it’s certainly come under fire with some of the struggles the Steelers have had. That said, the young pieces on the coaching staff seem to be on the come-up, including Brown and Martin, as well as underrated veterans in Roberts and Dunbar.
The size of Tomlin’s coaching staff likely won’t stop coming under fire until the Steelers have success on the field again. Whether that’s fair or not is up to those arguing one way or the other. Tomlin likes his coaching staffs small, and his historical success proves that his philosophy works more often than not.