The Pittsburgh Steelers have a new defensive coordinator for the 2022 NFL season. With former defensive coordinator Keith Butler retiring after last year the team promoted Teryl Austin from defensive backs coach to the main man. Austin was previously the defensive coordinator of the Cincinnati Bengals, and Detroit Lions before joining the Steelers.
It’s a badly kept secret that Mike Tomlin calls the defensive plays for the Steelers, and that the defensive coordinator just comes up with the game plan during the week. Butler admitted when he retired that Tomlin took over calling plays prior to legendary defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau leaving town and has continued ever since. So it doesn’t appear like the play calling approach will change under Austin, but it sounds like their defensive game plan will focus more on the details and doing them correctly.
This morning Mina Kimes from ESPN sat down with Heyward for a very interesting interview.
Just being at the facility now, I’m just starting to realize there’s a different level of detail, not to say Buts wasn’t very detailed, but you know I think Teryl brings a level of detail from the back end and transfers it upfront,” Heyweard told Kimes. “And so we are all just learning on the fly and excited to see what comes about for that. It’s not like it’s his first time being a defensive coordinator. So I think we’re all excited to see where it takes us.
While Heyward tried to give Coach Butler credit in his response, it’s still a little disheartening to hear him say that one of the new things he’s noticed is detail. At the NFL level you wouldn’t think as a fan you would hear that your team doesn’t focus a lot on detail. Especially when the Steelers defense had as bad of a season as they did last year. Injuries aside they still at times would’ve let Franco Harris run for 100 yards on them. That’s how bad they were.
Kimes said that she loved the way that Austin schemed his defensive backs to disguise where the blitzes were going to be coming from on the backend. From there she asked Heyward how the creativity on the back end helps the defensive front.
“Makes it a lot better. If you can’t predict where our DB’s are going to be, you’re going to take time trying to decipher, and then we’re able to buy more time and get home to the quarterback more often.”
You can’t argue with Heyward’s point. He finished last season with 10 sacks, and fellow All Pro TJ Watt tied the single season sack record with 22.5 sacks. And the Steelers led the league in sacks like they normally do.
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