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Keith Butler has no guarantee of being next Steelers DC

Steelers linebackers coach Keith Butler has been with the team since 2003, and in that time has elevated himself to what most consider as the next defensive coordinator when “Coach Dad” Dick Lebeau decides to retire. Lebeau is on his annual 1 yr deal with the Steelers and will continue to sign annual contracts for basically as long as he wants. Nobody in the organization would have the heart, let alone the guts, to actually let Lebeau walk away before he is ready.

When that day eventually comes though, Butler talked after the Steelers OTA’s about his future in coaching on the team. The following comes courtesy of SA’s good friend Chuck Finder of CBS Sportsline Rapid Reports:

Keith Butler said he wasn’t given assurances he’d be the successor to Steelers DC Dick LeBeau when he turned down the Colts’ coordinator job to remain Pittsburgh’s LB coach. “I’m not going to be the guy who pushes (LeBeau) out. The Rooneys took care of me monetarily, made it worth my while to stay. With that commitment… I felt like I needed to stay.

The Rooney’s don’t usually deny assistant coaches the opportunity to explore higher level jobs, and even though they did so the year before when Arizona came calling, they didn’t try and stop Butler from talking to Indianapolis. There’s no doubt however that they were in constant communication with him and made sure he knew what he means to the organization.

Terms of Butler’s deal were not released at the time of his signing earlier this offseason but it was clearly enough to keep him happy in the steel city. The prospect of a defensive coordinator job anywhere is intriguing for an assistant coach and I’m sure the Colts threw everything at him they could. Ultimately though the familiarity of the Steelers, the respect for the front office, Dick Lebeau, and a bright future were too much for the Colts to overcome. Plus in Pittsburgh he’s got a pretty darn good QB on the other side of the ball, and established winner vs a rookie who no matter how good his potential is, still has significant growing pains to endure. A young offense going through so much change puts a lot of pressure on a defense. That’s not to say that Butler couldn’t handle the job, , but a new team and a rookie QB isn’t enticing enough as a Super Bowl caliber job like he already has.

Even though Butler won’t admit it, and if he did it would be in poor taste quite honestly, he’s still the odds on favorite to take over as the next big man on defense. Studying the Steelers 34 for so long and working with the linebackers, he knows what it takes to run a successful Pittsburgh defense. Does he know as much as Lebeau? It’s a pretty fair bet that no defensive coach in the league knows more than Coach Dad. He’s forgotten more about the NFL than most can ever hope to learn in a lifetime. He still never uses a clipboard or some big laminated play sheet to help him call the plays he needs. The man knows every inch of the zone blitz, after all is the founding father of the famous Blitzburgh defense. Whatever the situation calls for, he knows what setup to get his players into.

All that knowledge and experience is obviously a huge asset for Butler and while he’ll put his own spin on the defense, you can bet there will be a lot of Lebeau type influences evident to even the most novice NFL fan.




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