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REPORT- Steelers’ Mike Tomlin to Relinquish Defensive Play-Calling Duties for First Time Since 2013

Emilee Chinn / Getty Images

REPORT- Steelers’ Mike Tomlin to Relinquish Defensive Play-Calling Duties for First Time Since 2013

Fans of the Pittsburgh Steelers have been critical of both offensive and defensive schemes and play calling in recent years. It took a while to confirm that head coach, Mike Tomlin, controlled the defense much more than Keith Butler dating all the way back to before Dick Lebeau left town. Allegedly, that will now change.

A clip was played from Sunday evening when Bob Pompeani of KDKA TV noting that Austin would most likely be calling the plays on game day to start the season. Pompeani was asked specifically what Austin’s job will be.

“He’s the defensive coordinator and who I believe will call the plays to start,” said Pompeani.

Jeff Hathhorn, Sports Director at 93.7 The Fan, went on the record on Monday afternoon stating that Tomlin will most likely take a step back and new defensive coordinator, Teryl Austin, will have control over the defense, backing up Pompeani’s claim.

“I think a majority of the plays will be called by Teryl Austin. Now coming up with those plays and all the planning leading in is definitely by committee. Will there be times when Tomlin says ‘we’re going to run this,’ absolutely,” said Hathhorn.

One can assume that Tomlin has more trust in his defensive coaching staff this year with Austin’s promotion and the addition of former Miami Dolphins‘ head coach, Brian Flores. Flores’ presence is even more of a reason for Tomlin to take a small step back in terms of how the defense is handled.

Hathhorn even mentioned Flores when continuing to discuss the topic.

“He will have help. He will have times where Flores gives some input. He might listen more so with other assistant coaches, but I do believe that Austin will be in control of the plays.”

Steelers Brian Flores

Pittsburgh Steelers Senior Defensive Assistant/Linebackers coach Brian Flores participates in the Organized Team Activities(OTAs), Tuesday May 31, 2022 at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. (Karl Roser/Pittsburgh Steelers)

It can be expected though that Tomlin remains a huge part of the week in and week out preparations for the Steeles defense.

“I think the control and planning and the control in discussions will still be there, but I think with the different defensive coaches that are involved this year, I think it will be a little bit different than we’ve seen in the past,” said Hathhorn.

It can be misread as Tomlin’s complete mistrust for Butler, or accepted as a vote of confidence for how much Tomlin trusts this year’s defensive staff specifically.

“I think he likes the coaches that he has around him and it’s another year of experience for the guy’s on the defensive end. The big X-factor here is Flores. He carries so much credibility to that room and to that side of the ball that I think it helps out a lot.

Steelers Defense Struggled Against The Run In 2021

Tomlin’s defense had its moments in 2021 largely due in part to T.J. Watt‘s domination, but the unit still struggled at times. The Steelers allowed 146.1 yards per game against opponents’ rushing attacks which was the worst in all of the NFL. Austin will have a big task in his first year as coordinator. If the team wants the chance to compete in a competitive AFC, the defense will have to be stout all year long.


What do you think about Tomlin taking a step back from running the defense? Let us know in the comments below!



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  1. Michael Marshall

    June 27, 2022 at 5:50 pm

    Tomlin needs to trust his coaching staff. I think Flores will help a lot. Especially for the linebackers. He’s been a head coach and he knows the best way to handle this situation.

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  3. Dave Warnick

    June 27, 2022 at 8:47 pm

    ’bout dang time!

  4. Big MoreRon

    June 27, 2022 at 10:14 pm

    My opinion:If the STEELERS/Mike Tomlin hire some high profile coaches….They should let these coaches come in,and do WHAT THEY DO BEST…There is no need to micro manage them.
    Obviously…What Coach T has been doing the last 2 years > hasn’t totally worked . It’s good that the additions to the defensive staff , might be able to make a difference…if they’re not handcuffed , by not being able to call plays.
    This is a really good move on Coach Tomlin’s part…IF IT’S TRUE 🤓!

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