With the 2021 season for the Pittsburgh Steelers now in the rearview mirror, it’s time for me to offer up several predictions on what I see happening in the coming offseason. Will I be right? Wrong? Somewhere in between? Let’s take a look.
They Will Not Draft a QB in the First Round
I know this is going to destroy a lot of narratives and it will likely make me no friends with the “Pickett to Pittsburgh” crowd but I don’t see it happening and here’s why. With Kevin Colbert likely retiring after the draft, it makes no sense to draft a quarterback you believe is the “future of the organization.” Any new general manager, whether he’s from within or not almost always wants to do two things. First is select who their head coach is and secondly is to have a say in who is going to be the QB. As for now, the coach is entrenched so that is isn’t an issue.
I understand there is a line of thinking that suggests having Colbert on through the draft could actually mean the opposite of what I’m saying. If insiders Brandon Hunt or Omar Khan get the job then they have an experienced guy (Colbert) selecting them a QB for the future. I just don’t get the sense right now however that any of these 2022 QBs do much for them. The 2023 QB class is much stronger.
Matt Canada Will No Longer Be the Offensive Coordinator
Not exactly a bold proclamation but it needs to be said. And keep in mind too that the Steelers typically keep coordinators around for more than one year. In fact you have to go back to the early 1998 season when they dumped Ray Sherman after just one season. That remains the only time they sent a first year OC packing.
The problems here are many. It wasn’t just that this offense wasn’t built for a guy like Ben Roethlisberger, it’s not built for Mason Rudolph or Dwayne Haskins either. That “nasty and aggressive” running game we were supposed to see is almost laughable to think of now. Plus you have many of the in-game decisions (Toss Sweep to Najee Harris on fourth down ring a bell?) that were just too ignorant to ignore. With Big Ben gone, it’s time for a new coordinator as well.
Keith Butler Will Retire
I’m thinking Butler will retire much in the same way that Bruce Arians “retired” from the Steelers several years ago. Butler is a terrific linebackers coach and decent defensive coordinator but the defense needs new wrinkles and new ways of thinking. Mike Tomlin has to know this as well and he’ll give Butler the opportunity to walk away rather than be dismissed.
There’s a strong nucleus there with T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith and Minkah Fitzpatrick. Obviously Cam Heyward is the center of all of that but for how much longer as he turns 33 for next season. The defense will need to replace Joe Haden and likely Terrell Edmunds as well. Now seems as good of a time as any to make this move.
Chris Morgan Will remain as the O-Line Coach
When Adrian Klemm was given permission to depart for Oregon with two regular season games remaining, it sent a couple of signals to me. One, they didn’t feel like they really needed Klemm to stay around and two, maybe they weren’t all that thrilled with him to begin with. Klemm’s absence allowed Chris Morgan to ascend to the top position. The Steelers went out in that first game and had their best offensive running game of the season.
A week later at Baltimore they cam back to Earth as they did again last night Kansas City. Despite rumors of a rift between Morgan and Klemm, we were able to garner little solid information to back that claim up. Either way, I believe Morgan has shown enough and has the support of his players to warrant being brought back. We know how Mike Tomlin loves those “inside hires.”