You might have heard this before, but the Steelers are expected to name Teryl Austin as their new defensive coordinator. Per Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, a deal could be finalized today or tomorrow (Twitter link).
Austin has served as the Steelers’ senior defensive assistant/secondary coach since 2019. Just two weeks ago, it was reported that Austin would be elevated to DC to replace the retiring Keith Butler, but then Pittsburgh elected to conduct a more thorough search and do its due diligence on a few external candidates. The Steelers requested interviews with then-Giants DC Patrick Graham — who subsequently took the same position with the Raiders — Saints defensive backs coach Kris Richard, and Cowboys passing game coordinator/secondary coach Joe Whitt Jr. before circling back to Austin.
Austin actually took an outside interview himself just yesterday, meeting with the Giants as a potential Graham replacement. That position may have offered him greater responsibility than the Steelers’ gig, as Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin took over as Pittsburgh’s defensive play-caller last season, but for one reason or another, it appears that Austin will remain in the Steel City.
The 56-year-old served as defensive coordinator for the Lions from 2014-17 under head coach Jim Caldwell, and during his time in Detroit, he was a regular on the HC interview circuit. His ill-fated tenure as the Bengals’ DC in 2018 caused his stock to plummet, but he is now getting a shot at some measure of redemption.
Of course, the Steelers’ D turned in an uncharacteristically poor 2021, allowing 361.1 yards per game (good for 24th in the league). Still, the unit does have some top-flight talent, and Austin’s secondary generally did a good job of limiting opposing passing games. More often than not, Pittsburgh’s run defense was the source of the club’s struggles.