Dunlap: Did Keith Butler Get A Demotion?

Colin Dunlap
January 30, 2019 - 6:26 am
Keith Butler & Mike Tomlin

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

I don't know this to be fact, but I have a guess here. I have a working theory, if you will. 

Keith Butler has been demoted. Again, just a guess. Just a connection of the dots, but it seems to all fit. 

The Post-Gazette's Gerry Dulac --- who, incidentally has been smashing everyone else on the beat by breaking story after story --- first reported on Tuesday afternoon that the organization won't replace the spot left vacated by pushing former outside linebackers coach Joey Porter out the door. Instead, Butler will assume those duties in addition to his current ones. Butler is still, at least in title, also the defensive coordinator. 

Here is where I'm not believing the story. 

It isn't that I'm not believing Dulac. I 1,000,000 percent believe someone told him precisely what he printed. 

But here is what I believe is really happening: Butler is being demoted to linebackers coach (his former role) with newly-hired defensive assistant Teryl Austin the co-defensive coordinator with, dare I say, Mike Tomlin. 

That's what I really think is happening with the defense and how it will function this upcoming season. I believe Butler hasn't been someone with duties added, but a man with some taken away. All the clamoring from the fan base coupled with the underachievement from the defense --- particularly in the back end --- has forced the Steelers to finally make a change but they didn't want to go so far as to emasculate Butler and publicly state it. So it will function where he retains the title (and might help globally with more than the linebackers) but Austin truly is the man behind the curtain.  


Austin was a defensive coordinator at the University of Florida, with the Detroit Lions and the Cincinnati Bengals in the past and comes highly regarded. He is a man who has been mentioned, at times, for head coaching openings in the NFL. Butler, in turn, has never reached that point. 

Tomlin, as we know, is feeling some heat and from his end and it would make sense to become personally more involved in the inner-workings and down-to-down machinations of the defense. It also might be the best way to save his own rear --- as he would be, in a sense, be counting on his own skills rather than someone else's. 

This all makes sense. 

This all fits. Again, it's just a guess but I firmly feel this is what's happening with the Pittsburgh Steelers right now. Keith Butler might still be called the defensive coordinator but Teryl Austin wasn't brought in here to be some low level assistant. The guy, pretty much, is going to run things. 

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