Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler has officially announced his retirement. As such, that means the Steelers will be looking out of the organization to potentially fill the void. However, as has been a trend with them as well, they could very well promote within the organization. So, who are some candidates the Steelers could look at for their defensive coordinator opening?
Teryl Austin, Steelers’ Secondary Coach
This is the obvious hire for the Steelers to make. They brought on Austin prior to the 2019 season to be the secondary coach and reinvigorate the secondary. For the most part, Austin has done just that. Terrell Edmunds has seen great growth under his tutelage. Ahkello Witherspoon turned his season around after sitting and learning for a short while. Minkah Fitzpatrick took his game to the next level. There are a lot of positive signs for Austin as a defensive backs coach.
This one might be likelier just because it seemed like Austin was a defensive coordinator in waiting in some sense. Austin has already been a defensive coordinator in Detroit and Cincinnati, though he was fired in Cincinnati before he could even finish his first season. He is a little different than most candidates on the list because he has experience as a play-caller. That makes him the obvious candidate, as a result.
Karl Dunbar, Steelers’ Defensive Line Coach
Another in-house option the Steelers could look at that has not been discussed is Karl Dunbar, the Steelers defensive line coach. Dunbar has been pretty fantastic as the team’s defensive line coach. Chris Wormley’s career has achieved new heights. Isaiahh Loudermilk’s development as a young defensive lineman was exciting. Stephon Tuitt and Cam Heyward have continued to ball out. Javon Hargrave grew into a star under his watch.
Those credentials give Dunbar the potential credentials to get this promotion. He knows Tomlin as long as Tomlin has been a defensive coordinator in the league. They coached with each other in Minnesota in 2006. However, the one thing that might hold this back is that Dunbar has no defensive coordinator experience at any level. Still, working under a guy like Nick Saban is nothing to fan against. There is certainly a sleeper chance that Dunbar gets the call.
Brendan Daly, Chiefs’ Defensive Line Coach and Run Game Coordinator
Now, going to outside candidates, there are not many that jump off the screen. After all, Mike Tomlin has been a head coach for so long that most of his past staff connections are either defensive coordinators themselves or head coaches. Someone like Raheem Morris would make a great deal of sense, for example. However, Morris already holds that role with the Rams, and is getting head coach inquiries.
Enter in Brendan Daly, who could stand to see a promotion. His work under Steve Spagnuolo in Kansas CIty has been impressive. Then, his work under Bill Belichick was plenty impressive, too. In fact, Daly has been to six of the last seven Super Bowls. The guy has coached on winning teams, molded winning players, and has the Tomlin connection, as they worked together in Minnesota. If they are to go outside the organization and Tomlin wants to sprinkle in some outside noise that can spice things up, Daly’s name would be a pretty enticing one.
Larry Foote, Buccaneeers’ Linebackers Coach
This one was suggested 247Sports writer Roy Countryman. It makes plenty of sense. Larry Foote’s meteoric rise as a coach has been something to watch. The former Steelers’ linebacker was an assistant linebackers coach not even six years ago and is now coaching one of the top units in the NFL. With Lavonte David and Devin White forming one of the most dangerous tandems in the NFL, Foote’s coaching job has been a job well done. The obvious connection is that Foote played for Tomlin for six seasons. These two will know each other very well as a result of that.
If Foote wants to have a homecoming of sorts and Tomlin is looking outside the organization, Foote could certainly be on that list. Still, he is a relatively youthful coach to get the position. Tomlin has, generally, gone on the side of veteran coaching for these jobs. Still, Foote’s name is, at the very least, enticing.
As usual, Tomlin has a wide web, and there are plenty of guys that will likely be interviewed. Still, the good bet is on Austin getting this job. Tomlin has typically been promoted from within, and his credentials are the strongest.