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Steelers Rumors: Teryl Austin to Be Named DC amid Contract Negotiations

Rob Goldberg@@TheRobGoldbergFeatured Columnist IVFebruary 6, 2022

AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar, File

The Pittsburgh Steelers will make Teryl Austin their new defensive coordinator, according to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network.

Gerry Dulac of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette first reported the team was finalizing a deal with the coach.

Austin spent the past three seasons with the Steelers as a senior defensive assistant and secondary coach. He will now replace Keith Butler, who retired in January after seven seasons as Pittsburgh's defensive coordinator. 

Butler was also promoted from within in 2015 after 12 seasons as a linebackers coach.

Austin will look to help the Steelers defense return to prominence after a disappointing 2021 season during which the squad ranked 20th in points allowed and 24th in yards allowed. Pittsburgh had a top-five defense in 2019 and 2020, but the unit was inconsistent last year while allowing at least 36 points in four regular-season games, plus the 42-21 playoff loss to the Kansas City Chiefs.

There are still elite building blocks on the defense, including first-team All-Pros T.J. Watt and Cameron Heyward, along with Minkah Fitzpatrick. With the continuity in the coaching staff, there could be a quick turnaround in 2022.

Austin has had mixed results in his previous stints as defensive coordinator, however.

The 56-year-old took over the job for the Detroit Lions in 2014, helping the unit rank second in yards allowed and third in points allowed. It was the only time since 2000 that the Lions finished in the top 10 in the NFL in scoring defense.

The defenses were up and down in his next three years with the team, ranking 23rd, 13th and 21st in points allowed.

Austin was later hired as defensive coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals in 2018, but the team allowed the third-most points in the league that year on the way to a 6-10 finish.

The veteran coach will now get his third opportunity to lead a defense and should have high expectations based on the talent on the roster.

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