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The Steelers Finally Have a Passing Game Coordinator. It’s Mike Sullivan.

The Pittsburgh Steelers do actually finally have a passing game coordinator, and his name is Mike Sullivan.



Pittsburgh Steelers OC Mike Sullivan
Pittsburgh Steelers play caller Mike Sullivan against the Baltimore Ravens, Jan. 6, 2024 - Ed Thompson / Steelers Now

ORLANDO, Fla. — The Pittsburgh Steelers shuffled the deck of their offensive coaching staff significantly this offseason. Former quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan was given a new title, senior offensive assistant, while the team hired Chargers passing game assistant Tom Arth as the quarterbacks coach.

But what does that mean for Sullivan? Is that just a ceremonious title that holds no weight, or is there something more to it? Mike Tomlin explained Sullivan’s new role with Arth as the quarterbacks coach.

“Mike’s a senior offensive assistant. He’s been around, not only here, but the National Football League. He’s coached quarterbacks, he’s coached wide receivers, he’s versatile,” Tomlin said. “Just for him to take a step back and be involved in the global component of our passing game is exciting. He has knowledge about our current roster that maybe some of the new guys do not have. And so, I’m excited about what he’s able to bring there. And then obviously, I’m excited about bringing Tom (Arth) into the fold. Got a lot of respect for him and really got familiar with him when he was at Akron, a number of years back. And so, we just can’t have enough experts and guys with specialized labor skills and in that space, in an effort to take our collective forward.”

The language here is not that guarded if I am being honest. Sullivan is the passing game coordinator, even if that is not his title. So, after all the hand-wringing about that title, it does appear that the team will have one, and Sullivan’s global responsibilities will be directly tied to evaluating the passing game for Arthur Smith.

Arth, 42, comes to the Steelers after two seasons as pass game specialist for the Los Angeles Chargers, where he helped work with quarterback Justin Herbert. Before that, he had a long tenure as a college head coach.

A college quarterback at Division-III John Carroll near Cleveland, Arth spent three seasons with the Indianapolis Colts as a backup to Peyton Manning and bounced between the NFL Europe, CFL, practice squads, and the Arena Football League after that.

He got his start in coaching at his alma mater in 2010 and, three years later, was promoted to head coach. With the Blue Streaks, Arth directed records of 9-2, 11-2, 8-2, and 12-2, making it to the NCAA Tournament thrice. In 2016, he took John Carroll all the way to the NCAA Semifinals, the best playoff finish in modern team history.

Sullivan has had two tenures as an NFL offensive coordinator, with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from 2012-12 and the New York Giants from 2016-17. He spent most of his NFL career with the Giants, winning two Super Bowls.

He was fired by the Giants in 2017. Sullivan then spent one season as the Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach, one season out of football, and one season as the recruiting coordinator at his alma mater, Army West Point, before the Steelers hired him in 2021.

Regardless, it seems the Steelers do have a new staff title that is specifically designed to cater to the passing game, which is a new position on the staff entirely.

 Alan Saunders contributed reporting from Orlando.