The Pittsburgh Steelers have their second officially confirmed offensive coordinator interview on Friday, as they will talk to Texans quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson about the job. Johnson is not too different from Zac Robinson or Thomas Brown and comes from a similar background and a similar level of experience to both.
Johnson is an extremely hot commodity on the market and it’s not hard to see why teams would be gung-ho for Johnson. With the Texans, rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud came into the league and put up one of the best rookie seasons in recent memory, leading Houston to the postseason’s divisional round.
For the Steelers, Johnson checks the boxes of working with a young quarterback who saw instant success. The environment that Johnson created around Stroud allowed him to flourish immediately in the NFL. But the people Johnson has worked under make all the difference, too.
Before Johnson went to Houston, he was the assistant quarterbacks coach under Kevin O’Connell in Minnesota. So, yet again, there’s a connection to Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay’s coaching tree. More than that, he doubled that up in Houston by coming to work under Bobby Slowik from the Kyle Shanahan tree.
It seems the Steelers want to look hard at all branches of that McVay or Shanahan tree. It’s not a surprise when you look at the type of schematic adjustments they made offensively towards the end of the year and how much of that mirrored what they would do in the run game. As such, it seems likely that they will try to continue those adjustments, thus needing that schematic continuity.
In other words, Johnson became a quick-rising star in the league because he develops quarterbacks and just so happens to come from the two most potent branches of offensive thought the league wants now. Given how much the Steelers dipped their toe into the Shanahan and McVay schemes with Matt Canada running things in 2023, Johnson sure makes a lot of sense for them.
Last season, the Steelers did not have a single coach who played quarterback professionally. The interest in Robinson and Johnson could be a point of interest for their interview process. While inexperienced from a coordinator perspective, Johnson’s role in how Stroud played, in addition to his schematic background, makes him an intriguing choice. It depends on how comfortable the Steelers would be with a first-time play-caller.