Steelers fire special teams coordinator
Turns out Mike Tomlin wasn't done shaking up his coaching staff when Bruce Arians was let go seven months ago. Now, Al Everest is out, too.
Everest was abruptly fired as special teams coordinator following practice Thursday and replaced by his assistant, Amos Jones, who already was doing much of the on-field coaching.
“We are continually evaluating our coaching staff and support staff, and we have decided to go in a different direction with respect to the coaching of our special teams,” Tomlin said in a statement released by the team. “I want to thank Al for his contributions and efforts, and I wish him well in the future.”
Within an hour of the announcement, Everest's bio had been removed from the Steelers' website, and team employees were seen taking boxes from his office.
Such coaching staff changes are rarely made with the start of the season so close, but they do occur. Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley, then the Chiefs coach, fired offensive coordinator Chan Gailey in late August 2009, and the Buccaneers fired offensive coordinator Jeff Jagodzinski a week before their '09 opener.
There had been no hints that Tomlin would make so dramatic a move only two days before a preseason game in Buffalo, but he expressed disappointment with the special teams following a preseason game Sunday against the Colts. Rookie Marquis Maze averaged only 1.5 yards on punt returns.
“I didn't like our return game,” said Tomlin, who has devoted significant practice time to special teams. “I thought our return game was below the line.”
Still, philosophical differences — not performances in meaningless games — commonly are the reason such changes are made so abruptly.
Through two preseason games, the Steelers were averaging 4.0 yards on punt returns to their opponents' 8.5 and 18.6 yards on kickoff returns to their opponents' 26.3.
But their kicking game has been solid. Shaun Suisham (2 for 2) and rookie Daniel Hrapmann (5 for 5) are perfect on field goal attempts, and rookie punter Drew Butler is averaging 47.5 yards, with a net of 41 yards, as incumbent Jeremy Kapinos heals from a back injury.
One major change made at the start of training camp last month was the decision — apparently by Tomlin — to remove Pro Bowl kick returner Antonio Brown from the kickoff and punt return units. Brown, a starting receiver, averaged 10.8 yards on punt returns and 27.3 yards on kickoff returns last season.
Jones was passed over for the special teams coordinator job when Bob Ligashesky was let go following three seasons from 2007-09. Everest was brought in from the 49ers to replace him, with Jones remaining as the assistant.
Jones, a former safety and running back at Alabama under coach Paul “Bear” Bryant, coached at seven colleges — including Pitt — before being hired by the Steelers.
In January, the Steelers announced Arians had retired as offensive coordinator. But it quickly became apparent he had been fired, and he accepted the same job with Indianapolis.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Steelers’ defense on pace for fewest sacks in 16-game season
- Steelers notebook: No-huddle gets limited use vs. Texans
- Starkey: Century mark beckons for Ben
- Nearing season’s midpoint, Steelers still have issues to sort out
- Steelers’ Pouncey, brother won’t be charged in July fracas
- Snapshot in time: Comparing Cowher, Tomlin drafts
- Steelers’ Haley unfazed by criticism
- Steelers rookie Tuitt prepares for big role
- Texans’ Watt to challenge Steelers’ offensive line
- Steelers notebook: Gay endorses domestic violence app
- Steelers looking for Spence to step up game at inside linebacker