First of all, let me state that I am upset that Kirby Wilson is heading to Minnesota. Wilson was reportedly an enormous reason why the Steelers’ offense improved during the second half of last season, and the veteran running backs coach has been a mainstay on Pittsburgh’s staff since he arrived back in 2007.
What incenses me the most about Wilson taking his talents to the Vikings deals with the fact that he is leaving Pittsburgh to become Minnesota’s running backs coach.
Now if Wilson left for another organization to become an offensive coordinator or even a head coach, then I could completely understand. Yet a lateral career move like the one the running backs coach just made is even more puzzling when one remembers that former offensive line coach Sean Kugler (head coach at UTEP) and former wide receivers coach Scottie Montgomery (assistant head coach/offensive coordinator) both made similar decisions and left last spring.
Wilson’s departure was made even more interesting when former quarterback Charlie Batch tweeted the following after the news of the running back coach’s departure was made public:
Call me crazy, but it looks like Batch insinuated that a problem might exist on Pittsburgh’s offensive staff. Furthermore, it looks like the issue, which appears to have arrived two seasons ago, was an important factor behind the decisions made by Kugler, Montgomery and Wilson.
Outside of offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, who was fired after the 2009 campaign for the line’s poor play during his three-year stint, Pittsburgh’s offensive staff was a relative cohesive unit during offensive coordinator Bruce Arians’ time at that post (2007-2011).
Besides Zierlein, only quarterbacks coach Ken Anderson left the staff during Arians’ watch, and I should mention that Anderson left because he retired and not to take a job elsewhere. Pittsburgh kept their staff relatively intact after the loss of Anderson, and wide receivers coach Randy Fichtner was promoted to quarterbacks coach and Montgomery was hired to fill the vacancy left by Fichtner.
Now I do not want to declare that everything was a love-fest among Pittsburgh’s offensive coaches from 2007-2011. However, the fact that three coaches have jumped ship over the last 12 months is something which cannot be ignored. Moreover, it seems like more discontent has existed among the offensive coaching staff ever since Todd Haley was brought aboard to replace the retired Arians in 2012.
I for one am interested to see how the upcoming offseason and regular season play out in Pittsburgh. There has to be a reasonable explanation why assistants are leaving for lower-tier or similar positions at the professional or college levels.
Is it the reportedly abrasive Haley? Is it head coach Mike Tomlin? Is it the front office? Whatever it is, something is making Pittsburgh an undesirable location to coach, and I hope that a solution is found before this problem continues to plague this franchise.
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