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Steelers OC Search Updates: Kingsbury Off List, Trends from First Interviews

What have we learned about the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator search so far?



Pittsburgh Steelers Kliff Kingsbury
FILE - Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury wears a shirt in support of Buffalo Bills' Damar Hamlin as he speaks at a news conference after the team's NFL football game against the San Francisco 49ers in Santa Clara, Calif., Sunday, Jan. 8, 2023. Kingsbury is joining Lincoln Riley's coaching staff at Southern California as a senior offensive analyst. USC announced the addition Tuesday, April 11, 2023. (AP Photo/Jed Jacobsohn, File)

Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury is not currently on the team’s list of offensive coordinator candidates, despite being reported to be someone the team would talk to, according to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

Dulac said Friday in an interview with 105.9 The X that Kingsbury is not currently on the team’s candidate list.

Peter King of Sports Illustrated reported earlier in the week that the Steelers would speak to Kingsbury about their opening.

It’s likely that there was some level of communication between the team and Kingsbury about the opening, but that has not risen to the level of an interview, and with his name not on the team’s list according to Dulac, it does not seem likely that it will.

When coaches are under contract with another team, the Steelers must officially request an interview, even though it is a formality for coaches that are interviewing for a job that represents a promotion. Because Kingsbury has been working USC, there is no necessary formality to the process, so there could have been a casual gauging of interest, from one side or the other, that will not rise to the level of an interview.

So far, there have been four reported candidates of interest: Kingsbury, Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson, Houston Texans quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson and former Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Thomas Brown. The team has officially announced completed interviews with Brown and Johnson.

The Steelers are just getting their interview process started, though the first four candidates reported as them having interested do share some similarities. Three (Johnson, Kingsbury and Robinson) were NFL quarterbacks. The Steelers did not have a single former professional quarterback on their staff in 2023.

Robinson and Brown are both disciples of Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay. Johnson worked for Bobby Slowik in Houston, who came up with the San Francisco 49ers under Kyle Shanahan, and worked for ex-McVay OC Kevin O’Connell in Minnesota in 2022.

Finally, none of the four candidates have any full experience as an NFL offensive coordinator, though Kingsbury was the primary playcaller for the Cardinals during his time as the Arizona head coach. Brown was offensive coordinator for the Panthers last season, but did not call the plays, as head coach Frank Reich did. That comes after Mike Tomlin said that he would prefer a candidate with experience during his season-ending press conference last week.

Tomlin also said that general manager Omar Khan and president Art Rooney II will be involved in the process, so they could have different priorities, the Steelers could be casting a wider-than-usual net, or the team may just be waiting for candidates whose teams are still playing to come available.