There have been stories circulating suggesting that the Steelers may lose LB Coach Keith Butler when Ken Whisenhunt landed a head coaching job. It was just announced that the Tennessee Titans have hired him as their new head coach, but the likelihood of him luring Butler away from the Steelers is small. Let’s take a deeper look at why it isn’t very likely.
Gerry Dulac of the Post Gazette writes, “There is a good possibility Whisenhunt will try to hire Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler as his defensive coordinator, something he tried to do in 2007 when he left the Steelers to become head coach in Arizona.”
There’s a long history of teams (namely the Cardinals) seeking permission to interview Butler, and ultimately being denied by the Steelers brass or spurned by Butler himself. He was a candidate for the Colts defensive coordinator position two years ago, but reportedly changed his mind the day before the interview after meeting with Art Rooney II and Coach Tomlin. According to Jerry Dulac at the time, he and the team made a gentleman’s agreement in 2009 making him the next defensive coordinator when(ever) Dick LeBeau decides to hang up his clipboard. If that was indeed true, it can be safely assumed that Butler isn’t going to leave now after waiting this long. The end is certainly almost here. Dick LeBeau will be 77 this year. Having said that, it should come as no surprise that a gentleman’s agreement in the NFL doesn’t amount to much at the end of the day.
Ultimately though, Butler is a 3-4 guy and the Titans are predominately a 4-3 team. The Titans defense was formidable last year. It’s not as though they struggled and are in need of a complete overhaul. The contracts of both defensive coordinator Jerry Gray and senior assistant Gregg Williams expired last week though, so the Titans will need to find a defensive coordinator. Will Wiz want to scrap the 4-3 when the pieces are there and working? Furthermore, will he want to take a chance again on a positional coach who hasn’t been a defensive coordinator in the NFL? These questions may be moot if the Steelers decide (as they have done in the past) to decline requests to interview him.
There are a lot of candidates in the pool for Whiz to consider, and as Mike Silver said today, Whiz was reportedly discussing options with San Diego assistants recently. Butler isn’t the only guy he knows.
I'm told Whisenhunt had conversations last week with some Chargers assistants about possibility of joining him if he gets HC gig somewhere
— Michael Silver (@MikeSilver) January 13, 2014