In a shocking and totally uncharacteristic move the Pittsburgh Steelers fired special teams coach Al Everest.
Unlike his predecessor, Mike Tomlin has not been wont to fire his assistant coaches. He resisted pressure to fire his first special teams coach Bob Ligashesky after the 2007 campaign when the Steelers special teams were a glaring liability. He went to the mat for Bruce Arians after the 2009 season when management preferred to see the oft criticized offensive coordinator go.
But this isn’t an issue of Tomlin being willing to fire or not fire an assistant coach. NFL teams do not fire coaches during the preseason. Todd Haley did it while in Kansas City, and it was taken as an immediate sign of coaching instability.
(A quick survey of non-NFL sites already has some pundits chalking the move up to the “Todd Haley effect.”)
Insights into Al’s Exit Absent….
The news of Everest’s was broken by Jay Glazer on Twitter at 1:24 pm. Since then the scribes in the Pittsburgh press corps have had all day to consult their sources, yet no one has any news on why Everest was let go.
Jim Wexell admitted on Twitter that he never understood why Everest’s replacement, Amos Jones, hadn’t been given the job in 2010.
Alan Robinson of the Tribune-Review offered a possible chink of light on the subject with his comment that Amos Jones “already was doing much of the on-field coaching.” Dale Lolley added to the story by reminding readers that Jones and Mike Tomlin had been friends since coaching together at the University of Cincinnati back in 1999 and 2000.
But Mike Tomlin certainly did not wake up “think, ‘gee, wouldn’t it be nice to give my buddy Amos a promotion, he does all the work anyway’ and issue a pink slip.
Clearly there’s more to the story.
Reviewing the Everest Record
Al Everest joined the Steelers in January of 2010 after a season where special teams breakdowns had cost the Steelers a minimum of two games.
But special teams performance waned during the later part of 2010, contributing to the Steelers a home loss vs. the Jets. Everest’s special teams also benefited from a rather, “generous,” call in the AFC Divisional playoffs vs. Baltimore.
A quick review of Steel Curtain Rising’s post-game Report Cards for 2011 (click here to review) shows a similar mixed bag. While special teams did come up with big plays and solid play in general, they also suffered two blocked kicks and got suckered by a fake punt vs. Kansas City that never should have happened.
As I observed back in 2009, the history of Steelers history with special teams coaches features an ensemble of Dr. Jekyll-Mr. Hyde characters (click here for the full article).
In that light, Everest clearly continued the trend, as his special teams improved markedly from Bob Ligashesky’s disastrous units.
Now Steelers Nation had better hope that Amos Jones can buck the trend.