Updated: Feb 6
(Photo by Adam Ruff/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images)
With Keith Butler announcing his retirement on Saturday, it appears that Mike Tomlin will promote senior defensive assistant and secondary coach Teryl Austin to defensive coordinator. According to Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, the Steelers have indicated to Austin that he would be in line to succeed Butler, but not determination has been made at this point.
Mike Tomlin prefers to promote his assistant coaches to coordinator positions than hire outside of the organization. He did it with Butler, Randy Fichtner and Matt Canada. That's just how Tomlin and the Steelers operate. The last time the Steelers went outside the organization to hire a coordinator was Todd Haley in 2012, as Art Rooney II fired Bruce Arians.
Tomlin was aware that Butler was getting close to the finish line, as he was considering retirement last year but Tomlin asked him for one more go-round so he returned, according to Jeremy Fowler of ESPN. It also seems like the Steelers have been molding Austin to be the next guy in line.
Austin has prior experience as a defensive coordinator, as he was the defensive play-caller for the Lions (2014-2017) and Bengals (2018). Austin really didn't have much to work with in Cincinnati and was fired in the middle of the season. Austin did some good things with the Lions, but was let go after Jim Caldwell was fired following the 2017 season. Austin has been on Tomlin's staff since 2019.
Austin has a ton of experience and is highly regarded as a secondary coach, so it seems logical to promote Austin, especially given how the Steelers run their business. Austin being the defensive coordinator might not even matter that much, however, as according to Butler, Tomlin calls the plays anyway.