The Los Angeles Chargers fired former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator and tight ends coach Ken Whisenshunt on Monday in the midst of his third season as the Chargers’ offensive coordinator.
Whisenhunt, 57, worked for the Steelers from 2001 to 2006, first as tight ends coach and then as offensive coordinator and was a part of the team’s Super Bowl XL championship team.
In 2007, Whisenhunt left the Steelers to coach the Arizona Cardinals and took the Cardinals to Super Bowl XLIII, where he was defeated by his former team.
The August, Georgia native and Georgia Tech alum also worked for the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns and New York Jets before joining Bill Cowher’s Steelers staff.
Whisenhunt was the Chargers’ offensive coordinator in 2013 and then spent two seasons as the head coach of the Tennessee Titans before returning to San Diego in 2016. He was named the PFWA NFL Assistant Coach of the Year in 2013. As a head coach, he has a 48-71 overall record.
This season, the Chargers rank 17th in yards per game and 23rd in the league in points per game despite having top-flight talents like Philip Rivers, Melvin Gordon and Keenan Allen. The Steelers beat the Chargers, 24-17 on Oct. 13 in Los Angeles this year.
Steelers to Wear Color Rush Uniforms vs. Ravens
The Steelers will wear their all-black Color Rush uniforms on Thursday night against the Baltimore Ravens, the team announced on Monday night.
The team made the decision after getting input from the players and the fanbase. It will be the first time the team has worn the uniforms this season.
“I love them. I really love them,” cornerback Joe Haden said to Steelers.com. “They look sick. And we play well in them. You look good, you feel good, and you play good. I just really love them and am excited we get to wear them.”
“I like those. I think it’s a good change,” added James Conner. “When we have one style of game pants, everyone is so used to seeing us in black and gold at home. When it goes all black, I think it looks solid. It’s like the Dark Knight.”
The Steelers are 5-1 all-time in the uniforms, which were introduced in 2016 in a Christmas Day win over the Baltimore Ravens. This will be the second time they’ve worn the uniform against the Ravens.
The team wore the uniforms twice in 2019, a win over the Miami Dolphins and a loss to the Buffalo Bills.
Compared to the Steelers’ usual uniform, the Color Rush getups swap white, italic uniform numbers for block, gold digits and the white, intermediary stripes in the team’s five-striped sleeve design also swap white for gold.
The team’s usual gold pants with a thick black stripe are exchanged for the inverse, black pants with a gold side stripe. The team keeps its usual all-black socks for a head-to-toe black-and-gold look.
Steelers Reduce Future Capacity to 2,500 to Comply with Gov. Wolf’s Modified COVID-19 Policy
The Steelers will reduce the number of fans they can host at Heinz Field in the month of December in order to comply with adjusted COVID-19 mitigation guidelines released by Pennsylvania Governor Tom Wolf and the Pennsylvania Department of Health on Monday.
The Steelers will host no more than 2,500 fans per game beginning with their Dec. 6 home game against Washington. Thursday’s game against the Baltimore Ravens will not be impacted by the change. The Steelers had been hosting as many 5,500 fans for home games in the months of October and November after playing without fans in September.
With just a 2,500-person capacity, fans in the seating bowl against Washington will be limited to family and friends of players and the organization.
“Our priority remains the health and safety of our players, coaches, staff , gameday workers, and our fans,” team spokesman Burt Lauten said in a statement. “We will adhere to the original protocols for games with fans at Heinz Field and expect approximately 5,550 fans in attendance for Thursday’s game versus the Ravens.”
Wolf did not specifically cite reasons for modifying the limits on event capacity, but explained that the series of changes made to the mitigation rules on Tuesday are in response to growing numbers of positive cases and hospitalizations in the state.
“In December, projections show upwards of 22,000 new COVID cases per day in Pennsylvania, Wolf said. “And we are projected to run out of ICU beds. We must take action to protect our health care system from being compromised.”
The Pitt Panthers, who share Heinz Field with the Steelers, have ended the home portion of their 2020 schedule.
Steelers Hope Home Cooking Helps Improve on Past Thanksgiving Struggles
The undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers may be one of the NFL’s most historic, successful franchises, but that has not been the case on Thanksgiving.
Pittsburgh has played eight games all-time on Turkey Day, but owns a lackluster 2-6 record.
The Steelers did take their last Thanksgiving game in 2016, a 28-7 beat-down of the Indianapolis Colts. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger had a tremendous game, passing for 221 yards and three touchdowns to wide receiver Antonio Brown. The third Killer B, running back Le’Veon Bell added 120 yards on the ground and a score of his own.
Prior to that win, Pittsburgh had lost five straight, including a narrow 22-20 defeat at the hands of the Baltimore Ravens in 2013. A five-for-five performance from kicker Justin Tuckers proved the difference in that one for Baltimore.
In addition, Thursday’s division battle with the Ravens will mark the Steelers’ first ever Thanksgiving game at home. All had previously been played on the road, adding to the difficulty of the shortened week of preparation.
The Steelers are hoping that some home cooking Thursday will improve their Thanksgiving fortunes, pushing them to 11-0 and a division title.
“It is an honor for us to entertain our fans and fans in general on Thursday Night Football and on Thanksgiving,” head coach Mike Tomlin said Monday. “That’s not something that we take for granted. As a young guy who loved football, man I grew up watching football on the holidays, and it’s an honor and it’s humbling to provide that for others and to be associated with that and the memories it creates.”
Steelers all-time on Thanksgiving:
Nov. 24, 2016 at Indianapolis Colts, 28-7 W
Nov. 28, 2013 at Baltimore Ravens, 20-22 L
Nov. 26, 1998 at Detroit Lions, 16-19 L
Nov. 28, 1991 at Dallas Cowboys, 10-20 L
Nov. 24, 1983 at Detroit Lions, 3-45 L
Nov. 23, 1950 at Chicago Cardinals, 28-17 W
Nov. 28, 1940 at Philadelphia Eagles, 0-7 L
Nov. 23, 1939 at Philadelphia Eagles, 14-17 L