PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers president Art Rooney II believes the offensive coordinator search will be complete “sooner rather than later” reiterated head coach Mike Tomlin’s desire to hire an experienced coordinator candidate, and said that Tomlin will make the final decision about who to hire.
“We’re looking forward to having someone come in, take a fresh approach, and help our young players grow and perform,” Rooney said, and acknowledged that success at the quarterback position is something the team needs in order to reach its goals.
But he said that a track record of positive experience is something that the team is looking for, perhaps more than others.
“I think Mike identified that we want somebody that has some experience,” Rooney said. “Somebody that has, let’s say a track record, that we can look at and feel comfortable with. So those are things that Mike is looking for.”
While Rooney, Tomlin and general manager Omar Khan are all involved in the hiring process, Rooney said that Tomlin will get the final say when it comes to his next OC.
“To be clear, it’s Mike’s hire,” he said. “Head coaches hire their coordinators. I think it’d be a mistake for me to try to screw up the lines of authority in terms of how things are supposed to work. With that being said, Mike and I talk every day. Omar talks every day, sharing ideas. But that’s gotta be Mike’s hire.”
That being said, Rooney expects that the offense will follow certain principles that they’ve long established, and will have to fit the currently existing personnel.
“We have an idea of what we want the Steelers offenses to look like,” he said. “Start with that. We have a certain roster mix … you can’t completely change your roster overnight. So you kind of have to have a coordinator that feels like they can work with this roster and be successful with it. Somebody that believes in that and can come in and work with this roster, do what’s kind of already built here in terms of the roster and some of the skillsets that we have, that’s what we’re looking for.”
So if Rooney and Tomlin are looking for experienced play-callers with the ability to win with this offense, current candidates Arthur Smith and Thomas Brown, with running game backgrounds, would seem to have the best chance at succeeding with this roster, while quarterback developers like Jerrod Johnson might get more out of Kenny Pickett.
There’s also the matter of timing and availability. The Steelers will have to wait until after the Super Bowl to have in-person interviews with Klint Kubiak and Brian Griese on the San Francisco 49ers coaching staff. They also need to wait for the Washington Commanders to hire a head coach to see if Eric Bieniemy will be available.
Or they could move more quickly and secure their favorite of the candidates at hand. Rooney said that work will continue this week, even with Tomlin and Khan in Mobile for the Senior Bowl.
“It definitely gets tricky,” Rooney said. “We’ve interviewed three great guys so far. We’re deciding where we go from here. Mike and Omar are in Mobile for a few days. They may get a chance to talk to some people down there. It’ll get wrapped up sooner rather than later. …
It is a complicated set of scenarios you deal with this time of year. People are interviewing with various teams. I think we’re going our best to identify guys that we’re not wasting each other’s time when we have an interview. I think we’ll get there. I think there are enough good candidates out there. We’ll find one.”