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Steelers Miss Out on Potential Coaching Staff Addition



Pittsburgh Steelers OC Thomas Brown
Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Thomas Brown looks on before an NFL football game against the Green Bay Packers Sunday, Dec. 24, 2023, in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Jacob Kupferman)

The Chicago Bears are hiring former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Thomas Brown as their passing game coordinator, according to Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune. Brown worked previously with offensive coordinator Shane Waldron when they were with the Los Angeles Rams under Sean McVay.

Brown was one of three candidates to interview for the Steelers offensive coordinator position, which went to former Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith. Houston Texans quarterback coach Jerrod Johnson was the other candidate, and he’ll remain in Houston to keep the operation together in guiding rising star C.J. Stroud. There was a hope that the Steelers could add another title like ‘pass game coordinator’ to Johnson’s title to try and lure him to Pittsburgh with Smith. Likewise for Brown, but he’s moving on to Chicago.

Brown spent the 2023 season as the Carolina offensive coordinator under head coach Frank Reich after spending the previous three seasons under McVay. He also interviewed with the Bears before they hired Waldron for the offensive coordinator position. He also was in the mix for the vacant New England Patriots OC position.

Brown went from running backs coach to assistant head coach and tight ends coach before accepting the job in Carolina. He started coaching in 2011 after finishing a brief three-season NFL career as a running back.

Brown won a Super Bowl with the Rams, too, but his first-year results in Carolina were not sterling. For one, he did not even call the plays to start off the season. Head coach Frank Reich did, but eventually, after tossing it back and forth, Brown would call the plays by the end of the season. The offense was a disaster for first-year quarterback Bryce Young. It was a chaotic environment, so it’s hard to really pin all of that on Brown.

Brown, 37, was voted the NFL’s No. 2 offensive coordinator in a recent NFLPA player poll, so he’s highly regarded across the league. He’s an understudy of McVay and a rising potential offensive coordinator in the league. The Steelers valued the McVay coaching tree in the offensive coordinator search as they put in a request to interview Rams passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson, but he followed Raheem Morris to Atlanta and never interviewed.

The Steelers instead went with Smith, who brings offensive coordinator experience and fits the philosophy of the organization, which is something that Mike Tomlin values. The Steelers want to be a ground-and-pound team.