Former Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler confirmed that he did not ever call the defensive plays while he was with the team in an interview on Monday, and said that head coach Mike Tomlin had been calling the plays since before he took over as defensive coordinator.
Tomlin inherited Dick LeBeau as his defensive coordinator when he took the Steelers job, and LeBeau stayed on from 2007-14. That’s when Butler was promoted from linebackers coach to coordinator.
But Butler, who announced his retirement on Saturday, said that starting during the final years of LeBeau’s tenure, and all the way through to present day, Tomlin has called the plays for the Steelers’ defense.
“As much as I’d like to dadgum be more involved in calling the defenses and stuff than I was, I still wanted to do what was best for our team, what was best for our defense, what was best for our guys,” Butler said to 93.7 The Fan on Monday.
“We had a lot to do with the game plan and stuff like that, but Mike is the head coach and Mike can do what he wants to and should be able to do what he wants to as the head coach. The last couple years of Dick LeBeau, Mike was calling the defenses, too. So it’s something that he had wanted to do. It’s something that he had done at Minnesota. So he wanted to do that here. He’s the head coach. He should be able to do what he wants to do. … He’s going to do what he thinks is best to win football games.”
With Butler’s retirement, Tomlin will select a defensive coordinator for the second time in his tenure. But it remains unclear how much autonomy that new coach will have, with the head coach manning the defensive headset on game days.