Just when you thought the Pittsburgh Steelers weren’t going to make any changes to their defensive staff things suddenly got quite busy over the last two days and I’m not so certain that they are entirely done yet either. What should we take from the moves so far? Let’s examine.
The first domino to fall was Carnell Lake who made the decision to leave his position as the defensive backs coach. He has returned to California to enjoy his son’s final year of high school. In his place the Steelers have added veteran and former Penn State coach Tom Bradley who joins his brother Jim, the Steelers’ Team Surgeon. The clear signal here? Fundamentals are the top priority. Bradley has a history of being a defensive coordinator but he’s also a stickler for good fundamental play which the Steelers’ secondary needs. Tackling, positioning and communication will be significant priorities for Bradley.
Along the defensive line, veteran coach John Mitchell isn’t going anywhere. He’s taken on the title of Assistant Head Coach while the Steelers welcomed new Defensive Line Coach Karl Dunbar who comes with 11 years of NFL coaching experience. Most recently he was the D-line coach at Alabama.
I do not expect Coach Mitchell to completely give up his duties as the defensive line coach however. I believe he will still be very much involved as he gets ready for retirement and Dunbar gets ready to take over. What is curious here is that Dunbar has a lot of experience with 4-3 defensive alignments.
This does not mean the Steelers are making the switch per se because you have to have the personnel too. But I do feel like you’ll see more of those four man fronts we saw some of in 2017.
The most important part of these two hires (and you could throw new receivers’ coach Darryl Drake in there too) is that I sense a move towards more experience, and more professionalism. This staff was already fairly “aged” but now it is even more so. If in fact Art Rooney II wants a cleaner and less dramatic locker room then adding these guys will most certainly be part of policing that.
I mentioned above that these moves may not be the last ones. Outside Linebackers’ Coach Joey Porter and Inside Backers’ Coach Jerry Olsavsky are to this point still on the staff but considering the changes already made it wold not surprise me if one or both are let go.
That remains to be seen however so we’ll focus on today. I’m excited about these hires simply because of the direction it looks like the Steelers are going in on defense. I expect to see some improvements next year but I also expect to see a lot new things as well.
Photo courtesy: AL.com