If you are a little confused by the recent coaching moves by the Pittsburgh Steelers, you’re not alone. There is quite a bit to unpack here. Let’s start with what seems to be a new policy of not firing coaches, but instead waiting until their contracts run out to be rid of them. Think about what has transpired over the past two seasons. Last year, Todd Haley’s contract was not renewed despite running a very successful offense. This season both Joey Porter and James Saxon were not brought back after their contracts expired. The Porter case is strange because it took so long to move on from him. He never really improved any of the his players during his tenure as outside linebackers coach. Add to that Porter gave management several opportunities to fire him for his various off the field issues. Why wait so long to pull the trigger on Porter? On the other end of the spectrum, all James Saxon did was quietly produce quality performances out of running backs one after the other. Not retaining Saxon is a real head scratcher. Finally how can we forget the Mike Munchak saga. Yes, it became clear the reason he left was that to be close to family in Colorado. The deeper question is why do you let the best offensive line coach in football get to the end of his contract in the first place?
Next, we come to the curious Keith Butler situation. Butler will be back in 2019 for his final year under contract despite many calling for his head. His defenses have been filled with failures that would get most coaches fired. Look no further than the Kansas City Chiefs firing their defensive coordinator Bob Sutton as an example. After being run over by the New England Patriots offense for a second time, Andy Reid had seen enough and moved on. How many times have we seen Butler fail like this, only to return year after year? Are they really just waiting for the contract to run out rather than firing him? To make things even stranger, the Steelers have now hired former Bengals defensive coordinator Teryl Austin as some type of defensive backs coach. Keep in mind the team already has one of those in Tom Bradley. This is the same Teryl Austin who was fired by the Bengals for having one of the worst defenses in the league. There’s even speculation Austin has been brought in to replace Butler after next season. Imagine finally moving on from Keith Butler, only to have him replaced by somebody worse.
So to sum up, the Steelers let go their running backs coach despite home being the most successful of any position coach on the team. They hired an extra defensive backs coach, but will not replace the outside linebackers coach. The defensive coordinator will now also coach the outside linebackers, and no one can figure out if this is a demotion. Oh, and the best offensive line coach in football was allowed to reach the end of his contract. Confused yet? You should be. There doesn’t seem to be any rhyme or reason to where this coaching staff is headed. This is the type of dysfunction we often see from the team on the field. Maybe now we know why.