The Pittsburgh Steelers will have running backs coach Eddie Faulkner Jr. and quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan share offensive coordinator duties, following the firing of Matt Canada on Tuesday, according to a report by Tom Pelissero of NFL Network.
Faulkner hold the offensive coordinator title, at least on an interim basis, with Sullivan calling the offensive plays, according to Pelissero.
No official announcement, but my understanding is the #Steelers are expected to have RB coach Eddie Faulkner take over as OC, with QB coach Mike Sullivan handling play-calling duties.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) November 21, 2023
Faulkner, 46, is something of a surprise choice as offensive coordinator. He has held that title just once in his career, at Ball State from 2009-10.
A Muncie, Indiana native, Faulkner is a Wisconsin grad and signed with the Steelers out of college as a running back. He ended up playing in the CFL with Edmonton Eskimos for one season before getting into coaching.
He spent eight years at Ball State, working up from graduate assistant to offensive coordinator and interim head coach when Stan Parrish was fired during the 2010 season. Faulkner was not retained by the new coaching staff at Ball State.
In 2011, he was hired by Northern Illinois, where he served as running backs coach under Canada, who was then the Huskies’ offensive coordinator. He was briefly the running backs coach at Pitt before leaving to coach tight ends at Wisconsin in 2012, re-joining Canada for a second time
Faulkner then joined Canada a third time at NC State as tight ends coach, fullbacks coach and special teams coordinator. He stayed in Raleigh after Canada was fired, coaching under Dave Doeren until 2018.
He has been the Steelers’ running backs coach since 2019, developing the talents of James Conner, Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, among others.
Sullivan has been an offensive coordinator at the NFL level twice and was the most obvious choice to replace Canada.
A 56-year-old Santa Maria, California native, Sullivan is a West Point alum, where he was a two-year letterman as a defensive back before graduating in 1989. He started his coaching career at Humboldt State in 1993 and worked for several stints at his alma mater.
He got his NFL break, when the Jacksonville Jaguars hired him as a defensive quality control coach in 2002. The New York Giants snapped him up as wide receivers coach in 2004, and he spent the bulk of his career with the Giants. Sullivan was the team’s wide receivers coach from 2004-09 and quarterbacks from 2010-11, winning two Super Bowls.
He was hired as Tampa Bay’s offensive coordinator in 2012 under head coach Greg Schiano. His Buccaneers finished 13th in scoring and ninth in yards in 2012, and then 30th in scoring and 32nd in yards in 2013, when Mike Glennon replaced Josh Freeman at quarterback.
Sullivan was hired back by the Giants in 2015 as quarterbacks coach and he was promoted to offensive coordinator in 2016. The 2016 Giants finished 26th in scoring and 25th in yards, and 2017, they were 31st in scoring and 21st in yards. Eli Manning was the quarterback throughout all of Sullivan’s tenure in New York.
Sullivan was not retained when the Giants made a head coaching change after the 2017 season. He spent one season as the Denver Broncos quarterbacks coach in 2018, one season out of football, and one season back at Army as recruiting coordinator before the Steelers hired him as quarterbacks coach in 2021.
Since 2022, Sullivan has been tasked with the development of first-round draft pick Kenny Pickett, a job that has not showed much success recently. Pickett is 27th in passer rating, 29th in QBR and 26th in adjusted net yards per attempt.