We’re now one week into the Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator search, and the news came in furiously over the weekend, as teams and candidates maneuvered to find some landings spots, and no one wants to be left out in the cold.
Let’s take the one-week mark to re-set where things stand with each of the Steelers’ top targets and top potential targets, along with the other jobs that remain open and who other teams are targeting.
Former Atlanta Falcons head coach Arthur Smith
Smith interviewed with the Steelers on Sunday and quickly shot to near the top of the Steelers’ board as a candidate with two seasons of successful experience as an NFL offensive coordinator and a run-first offense that likely jives with the vision of Art Rooney II, Mike Tomlin, Omar Khan and Andy Weidl — not to mention the abilities of the current roster.
It had been speculated that Smith would go with Mike Vrabel if his former Titans boss caught on as a head coach somewhere, but that has not happened to this point. Only the Seattle Seahawks and Washington Commanders have head coach vacancies remaining. At this point, Smith has not interviewed for any other jobs.
Former Carolina Panthers offensive Thomas Brown
Brown interviewed with the Steelers last week. A former Sean McVay disciple, he was let go after one year as Carolina’s offensive coordinator after the Panthers hired former Tampa Bay OC David Canales as their head coach.
Brown didn’t get to really install his offense or call his plays in Carolina under Frank Reich, anyway, so while he has the line on his resume, it’s hard to call him an experienced NFL OC.
The big draw here is his ties to Los Angeles Rams head coach Sean McVay, and that’s why Brown has been a popular interview after the Panthers’ disastrous 2023.
Brown has also interviewed with the New England Patriots.
Houston Texans quarterbacks coach Jerrod Johnson
Johnson is the least-experienced candidate on the Steelers’ interview list, with only four years of full-time NFL coaching under his belt. He’s on the list — and others — because of his work with rookie Texans quarterback C.J. Stroud this season and his ties to both the McVay and Kyle Shanahan coaching trees.
Johnson has been a popular interview, and he’s talked to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Patriots and New Orleans Saints.
San Francisco 49ers quarterbacks coach Klint Kubiak
The Steelers won’t be able to interview Kubiak in-person for two weeks with the 49ers in the Super Bowl, but they can ask for an interview, something they have not done to this point. They can also do a virtual interview. It’s not clear that the Steelers are in a big enough hurry to go down that road.
Mike Tomlin and Omar Khan are expected at the Senior Bowl beginning on Tuesday, so there may not be a ton of time for interviews this week, anyway.
While the Steelers haven’t made it clear they’re interested in Kubiak, they should be. He’s a former NFL offensive coordinator who had one good season before his head coach was fired. He is probably the top candidate that will definitely be available this offseason — eventually.
Kubiak has already interviewed with the New Orleans Saints, and the Las Vegas Raiders have requested an interview, though Vegas is expected to make a decision this week.
Washington Commanders offensive coordinator Eric Bieniemy
Bieniemy cannot interview for an offensive coordinator job until the Washington Commanders hire a head coach. They hired general manager Adam Peters two weeks ago, and it seems that if Bieniemy was going to get the head coach job, he would have by now. The question becomes who the Commanders hire instead, and whether that coach wants to keep Bieniemy around.
The favorite to grab this job has been Detroit Lions offensive coordinator Ben Johnson. Because the Lions did a virtual interview with him previously, they can interview him in person this week during the idle week for the Lions. So some news may be coming on Bieniemy’s availability soon. A Johnson hire would likely free Bieniemy to pursue other jobs.
Miami Dolphins quarterbacks coach Darrell Bevell
Bevell has been an NFL offensive coordinator before, and even won a Super Bowl doing it. He was a part of one of the highest-scoring and most innovative offenses in NFL history in 2023 while helping to resurrect the career of a former top-five draft pick in quarterback Tua Tagovailoa.
And yet Bevell has not had one offensive coordinator interview. He reportedly turned two down last time around, so maybe that’s what’s happening again? Curious.
Former Arizona Cardinals head coach Kliff Kingsbury
It was first reported that the Steelers would talk to Kingsbury about their opening, then reported that he was not on their list to interview. Either way, it seems fairly safe to cross him off the list at this juncture. He was a strange fit for the Steelers’ personal, at any rate.
Offensive Coordinator Jobs Still Open
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Los Angeles Chargers, Carolina Panthers, New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders, New Orleans Saints, Seattle Seahawks, Steelers and Tennessee Titans are still looking to hire offensive coordinators. Here’s a quick update on the other teams in the hunt.
Candidates: Jerrod Johnson, Lions wide receivers coach Antwaan Randle-El, Rams pass-game specialist Jake Peetz, former Eagles offensive coordinate Brian Johnson, Buccaneers quarterbacks coach Thad Lewis, former Cleveland Browns offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt.
News: Late to the game after Canales was tapped as the Carolina Panthers head coach, the Bucs have had multiple candidates they wanted to interview hired away before they got a chance. They appear to be scrambling to cast a wider net and could be in for a longer than anticipated process.
Candidates: Eagles senior offensive assistant Marcus Brady
News: The Chargers just got their head coach in place, with Jim Harbaugh getting settled in last week. They have requested just one interview so far and seem to be feeling out the marketplace, though Brady is an attractive option and could be someone Harbaugh has targeted for the job.
Candidates: Brady, Tampa Bay Buccaneers wide receivers coach Bard Idzik
News: Canales came from Tampa, and Idzik appears to be the favorite to follow him to Carolina to take over as offensive coordinator.
Candidates: Brown, Jerrod Johnson, Rams tight ends coach Nick Caley, ex-Bears OC Luke Getsy, 49ers tight ends coach Brian Fleury, Lions pass game coordinator Tanner Engstrand
News: Caley, a longtime Patriots assistant, appears to be the front-runner here.
Candidates: Getsy, Lewis, Kingsbury, Kubiak, Alex Van Pelt, Steelers quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan
News: The word is that the Raiders are close to hire, though three of the three eight candidates they’ve interviewed have been hired elsewhere.
Candidates: Saints quarterbacks coach Ronald Curry, 49ers quarterbacks coach Brian Griese, Brian Johnson, Jerrod Johnson, Kubiak, Sullivan
News: The Saints seem to be waiting for the two San Francisco assistants that they’ve interviewed, Kubiak and Griese.
News: The Seahawks don’t have a head coach yet, and incumbent Shane Waldron will not be back. He took a job with the Bears.
Candidates: Jaguars passing game coordinator Nick Holz, Dolphins running backs coach Eric Studesville
News: Holz has been called a “top candidate” for the job, who worked with new head coach Brian Callahan with the Raiders.