Steelers Miss Out on April, In Danger of Losing Kahn, Butler, and Horton

The Pittsburgh Steelers are now experiencing another of the pitfalls of losing: Otherwise successful organizations pay the price for a down year by seeing their coaching staffs pillaged.

The Steelers suffered no turnover during Tomlin’s first two seasons in part because they made the playoffs those years. By the time things were over for them, fewer and fewer teams had staffs in flux.

The Steelers of course missed the playoffs this year, and the rest of the football world is enjoying a crack at Pittsburgh’s coaching and front office staff.

Lou Spanos, a defensive assistant since the mid-1990’s, has left for the Redskins. Omar Khan, the Steelers Business and Administration Coordinator, is one of two finalists for the Seattle Seahawks general manager position. Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton has a shot at being the University of Houston’s defensive coordinator. Linebackers coach Keith Butler competing with Al Groh to be the next defensive coordinator with the Miami Dolphins

Here are some quick comments on each loss/prospective loss:

  • Lou Spanos: stayed in the same, lower profile and presumably low paying position, for 16 years – either there’s a good reason for that, or he soaked up a lot of defeisve knowledge for the likes of Johnny Mitchell, Jim Hasseltt, Tim Lewis, Dick LeBeau, Bill Cowher and Mike Tomlin.
  • Omar Khan: is the Steelers capologist and has negotiated a lot of contracts. Tough to lose a guy like that, but they need to let him seek his opportunity.
  • Ray Horton: Promoted from assistant DB’s coach under Cowher to DB’s coach under Tomlin. It is hard to really measure the impact of losing him considering the erratic play of the Steelers secondary during his tenure.
  • Keith Butler: This one might hurt the most. He’s been with the Steelers since 2003 and has a history with Mike Tomlin that dates back to their time at Memphis together in 1996. Has coached some of the most effective linebacking corps. in the NFL during his time here. He has been mentioned as a possible successor to Dick LeBeau.

As with Khan, the Steelers need to let their coaches seek out better opportunites when they can find them. The only real way to prevent that is to keep winning…

Sean Kugler to Replace Larry Zierlien

The Steelers announced that Mike Tomlin has hired Sean Kugler as the team’s offensive line coach. Kugler most recently worked for the Bills, where his 2009 line suffered devastating rash of injuries.

However, when Kugler had a healthy line in 2008 the Bills ranked 14th in rushing. Restoring the power running game to the Steelers is perhaps not the foremost of the Kugler’s challenges. He also needs to devise blocking schemes that afford protection to Ben Roethlisberger despite the fact that he holds on to the ball much longer than the average NFL quarterback.

April to Philadelphia

Alas, one of Kugler’s colleagues from will not be joining him in Pittsburgh. Ace Special Team’s coach Bobby April has accepted an offer to coach the Philadelphia Eagles special teams after interviewing earlier this week with Mike Tomlin.

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