Mark Madden: If Steelers don’t change Arthur Smith’s staff, maybe they’ll upgrade the staff?
This is a magical time of year for Steelers fans. Optimism is rampant. Mock drafts pile up.
We envision new offensive coordinator Arthur Smith will revolutionize, and will have no different take on the same outdated offensive philosophy. (The vision is Mike Tomlin’s vision, not the coordinator’s vision.)
We’re told Smith had other offers. In fact, Smith was about to hop on a plane to Tampa before Tomlin convinced him how much fun coaching Kenny Pickett would be. (I would prefer to work with Baker Mayfield, assuming he returns with Tampa Bay.)
Tomlin and his teammates are in the Senior Bowl. The Steelers are said to like Zach Frazier, the center from West Virginia University. (The Steelers shouldn’t like that Frazier broke his fibula near the end of last season.)
Roman Wilson, who is from Michigan, is said to like Tomlin. (He wouldn’t have liked Pickett’s offense or the Steelers.)
There is no word on whether Tomlin has wings with any of the potential Senior Bowl players as he did with the Liberty Biberty quarterback in 2022. The wings were a transfer. It was Pickett or bust in that draft. (Now it’s just a bust.)
Mike Vrabel may return to Pittsburgh as an assistant! (Except he won’t. And Mike Munchak won’t. And Bill Belichick won’t be joining Tomlin’s staff either.)
Mitch Trubisky could be back as a backup! (Surprisingly, some think this could actually happen. It would certainly make fans rally behind Beckett.)
Friday was Groundhog Day. If Beckett sees his shadow, does it mean another six weeks of poor full-back action? (That might be easy.)
All of this is a nice distraction from thinking about the Super Bowl. (San Francisco is better than Kansas City, but how can you bet against Patrick Mahomes?) And the hackneyed topic of the best Super Bowl snacks. (Wings and nachos, period. Beer is the only acceptable beverage.)
If you want to talk serious about the Steelers, keep in mind that it already looks like Smith’s job performance is going to be down.
It is reported that the Steelers will keep the rest of their offensive staff unless quarterbacks coach Mike Sullivan gets a better job elsewhere. Adding a passing game coordinator seems unlikely.
Shouldn’t a new offensive coordinator be able to bring his own staff? In addition to coaching players, Smith will have to teach coaches.
But that’s the way it is for the Steelers: keep the staff small and cheap. Replacing coaches means having to pay the salaries of fired coaches. No chance of that.
Maybe the Steelers will upgrade Smith’s staff.
The Steelers are in desperate need of a center. Mason Cole stinks.
The Steelers passed on Tyler Linderbaum in the 2022 draft and Creed Humphrey in the 2021 draft. Both made this year’s Pro Bowl. (Yes, I prefer Lindenbaum to Beckett. And I certainly prefer Humphrey to Pat Freiermuth, who would be seen as a disappointment if the last syllable of his name wasn’t shouted out so easily.)
Should the Steelers draft Frazier? Maybe, but not in the first round. Oregon State’s Jackson Powers Johnson is also highly regarded.
The Steelers also need a tackle. Correct handling. Move Broderick Jones to left tackle where he belongs.
Dan Moore Jr. works hard, or so we’re constantly told. But the left tackle is where the money is. The Steelers traded to draft Jones. Put him in the most important position. Moore is best used as a versatile backup.
The Steelers have needs on defense as well. Most notable are the defensive line and inside linebacker.
But the Steelers have invested a lot in defense and they still don’t have a good defense. The NFL is all about points. Address the offensive side of the ball first, aggressively and forcefully.