UNITY TWP., Pa. — When the Pittsburgh Steelers set out to find a replacement for general manager Kevin Colbert, the team interviewed 16 candidates, and 14 of them came from outside the organization.
Team president Art Rooney II said during the search that one of the reasons the team interviewed so many candidates, from so many backgrounds, is that they wanted to get a sense of what they were missing in terms of ideas, strategies and concepts from around the NFL.
While Rooney and company eventually settled on internal candidate Omar Khan to replace Colbert, that desire for someone able to bring new ideas into the organization persisted, and that played out with the hiring of Andy Weidl as assistant general manager.
Weidl came to the Steelers from the Philadelphia Eagles, where he helped build a Super Bowl winner. He also won a ring with the Baltimore Ravens in 2012 and also had a stop with the New Orleans Saints.
But Weidl also has a deep understanding of what makes the Steelers the Steelers. He’s a Mt. Lebanon native that grew up a Steelers fan and got his NFL start with club back in 1998.
So the job for Weidl will be, obviously, to help Khan in his transition to general manager, but also to bring his depth of NFL experience to the table to provide new ideas that can add to what the Steelers have already done.
“Starting here, learning under Bill Nunn for two years and Tom [Donahoe] and the people we had here, it was a great way to lay foundation,” Weidl said. “Scouting and going to New Orleans for five years, with Coach [Jim] Haslett and Mickey Loomis, the people we had down there, to have the opportunity to grow and develop in the Ravens organization with Ozzie Newsome and learning there about fit, personality, locker room, not just the talent but your culture, and going to Philadelphia and learning more of the analytic aspect of it, I think all those places have set me up for this.
“I had to go to those places to learn and develop and grow. Whatever we can do to implement, bring things, to add, to enhance and evolve a little but, we will do it. I’ve been fortunate to be around some great ones.”
From the standpoint of analytics, Weidl said that he thinks it can be a tool for the Steelers, after working for a front office in Philadelphia that used a heavy emphasis there on the way to a Super Bowl win.
“It’s not the end-all-be-all, but there’s things you can find in it that can be helpful, just little things here and there,” Weidl said. “I think the key is to find and apply. There’s so much data, there are so many stats right now. You can get inundated with it, and I think the key is to find the important things, find the important data, how you can apply it to what your program is and what’s important to your team and your program.”
The Steelers obviously had a great run of success under Colbert, but the NFL will continue to adapt and evolve. The job of Khan, Weidl and company will be to keep the team on the cutting edge, while maintaining a connection to the standards and principles that have made the team what it is.