The Steelers are expected to announce the new defensive coordinator soon, possibly as soon as today according to reports. When Dick LeBeau
was forced out stepped down this weekend, the Steelers organization surely wasn’t as surprised as some reports would have us believe.
It has essentially been a forgone conclusion (for some time) that longtime linebackers coach Keith Butler will take Dick LeBeau’s headset on the Steelers sideline. While a lot of people had fun speculating what big name the Steelers might bring in, it was reported yesterday that the team has no plans to bring in outside candidates.
According to WTAE, Butler met with Coach Tomlin yesterday, and a 3 year deal is being finalized. The announcement might come as soon as today. So, what do we know about Butler?
Butler was a linebacker for the Seahawks from 1978-1987. He took a coaching position at Memphis in 1990. He served various roles there including coaching linebackers, defensive ends, and special teams. Butler is credited with designing a surprise 3-4 alignment that helped Memphis upset the Volunteers, led by Peyton Manning at the time.
Butler left U of M to take the defensive coordinator position at Arkansas State in 1998. After one year there, he moved up to the NFL and took a linebackers coaching position with the Cleveland Browns. While there, he worked with some familiar names- Bruce Arians (OC), Romeo Crennel (DC), Todd Bowles (secondary), and Chuck Pagano (secondary). The Browns ran a base 4-3 during those years.
In 2003, he was hired by the Pittsburgh Steelers. Since his arrival, he’s been the linebacker’s coach, and has led some pretty distinguished linebackers over the past dozen years.
There is a belief that Steelers ownership is forcing LeBeau’s replacement on Tomlin. Butler predates Tomlin in Pittsburgh, and it was reported a few years back that Butler had a gentleman’s agreement with the team ensuring that he would replace Dick LeBeau when he stepped away.
The hole in this narrative is that Tomlin knows Keith Butler very well. Aside from being his manager for the last several years, he knew Butler before the NFL. Mike Tomlin also worked at Memphis and Arkansas St. with Keith Butler. He was a defensive backs coach for the Red Wolves while Butler was the defensive coordinator.
Ultimately, I think Steelers fans should be excited about Butler taking the clipboard. He’s got some huge shoes to fill, but he’s studied under LeBeau for years, and has worked in a variety of defensive systems. His hire should hopefully equate to a smooth transition into the next era of Steelers defense.