The Pittsburgh Steelers are interviewing Rams passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson for their vacant offensive coordinator position. That is a deviation from what Mike Tomlin outlined as the wants or hopes of his next offensive coordinator.
Robinson only has sparse coaching experience, as he joined the Rams’ staff in 2019. But more than that, Robinson has only called plays for preseason games, where Sean McVay has allowed him to take the play-calling duties away from him. But he has an instrumental impact on what the Rams did in the passing game over the last two seasons.
While with the Rams, Robinson became the key part of how the Rams would try and rework past quarterbacks to find their old glory. For example, Baker Mayfield and, in this past season, Carson Wentz. He has come about as someone who can develop quarterbacks and helped the Rams passing game soar to new heights this past season.
Robinson has already interviewed with the Chicago Bears, but did not get that job. He is also scheduled to interview with the New England Patriots, and the Las Vegas Raiders have also placed a request to interview Robinson. The request is a formality, as teams cannot block candidates from interviewing for a position that represents a promotion.
Robinson, 37, would be by far the youngest coordinator ever hired by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin. A Littleton, Colorado native, Robinson played quarterback at Oklahoma State from 2005-09 and was a seventh-round pick of the New England Patriots in 2010. He bounced around the NFL from New England to the Seattle Seahawks, Detroit Lions, and Cincinnati Bengals, spending four seasons in the league. An elbow injury in 2013 with Cincinnati forced him to spend the entire season on the Physically Unable to Perform list, and he was waived with a failed physical designation the following May, ending his playing career.
Robinson has ties to Mason Rudolph. He helped train Rudolph for the NFL Combine, which is another wrinkle. So, what does Robinson bring to the table?
Robinson’s two years with Matthew Stafford are largely two different stories. In 2022, Stafford was injured and looked nearly done, but 2023 brought about a revelation. They changed what they were in the passing game, and the addition of Puka Nacua only helped spur them forward.
So, you have an inexperienced play-caller who helped reinvigorate a passing game that was largely a massive reason the Rams even made it to the playoffs after being expected to be one of the worst teams in the NFL. Personnel upgrades account for some of that, but not all of it, as the Rams had a shift in philosophy in their passing game to emphasize even more crossing routes and vertical concepts.
If Robinson’s ideas follow this, he layers a dynamic shotgun dropback passing game with a diverse under-center play-action game, if used at McVay’s mesh points. Not just that, but the amount of motion the McVay system uses is up near the top of the league.
And as I have said before, the Steelers’ run game resembles a McVay-led run game in 2023, given what both teams wanted to do. It’s no guarantee that Robinson would be good, but when you project out these first-time coordinators, the fit of their philosophy and signs of their impact must be there. Robinson has all those boxes checked to make for an off-the-wall but solid candidate for the Steelers offensive coordinator job.