The news officially broke this morning that Pittsburgh Steelers offensive coordinator Bruce Arians will not be back in 2012 according to a statement by head coach Mike Tomlin. With the offensive coordinator position now open I have put together a list below of the likeliest candidates to be the Steelers next offensive coordinator. Tomlin will be down in Mobile, Alabama next week for the Senior Bowl and there could be a few interviews that take place down there, but that is just speculation. Those interviews could include a few coaches not on my list below as well, as the Senior Bowl always is a huge stomping ground every offseason for current and out of work coaches.
Here we go with the top candidates in my opinion.
Randy Fichtner – Fichtner just finished his second season as the Steelers quarterback coach after spending three seasons as the team’s wide receivers coach prior to that. He was hired by the Steelers in 2007 when Mike Tomlin took over as head coach. He joined the Steelers after serving the previous six seasons at the University of Memphis as their offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach. While at Memphis he ran a highly effective spread offense that set school records for total offense. Prior to his stint with Memphis, Fichtner was the offensive coordinator at Arkansas State. The main thing he has going for him is the fact that he knows the Steelers personnel already and quarterback Ben Roethlisberger reportedly has a good relationship with him. Depending on how you view that, it could also be a negative. Fichtner is 48 years of age and was considered a candidate for the Memphis head coaching position several weeks back.
Tom Clements – Many should recognize the name of Clements as he was quarterbacks coach for the Steelers for three seasons (2001-03) under Bill Cowher. Clements has served as the Green Bay Packers quarterbacks coach since 2007 and helped quarterback Aaron Rodgers become one of, if not the best, quarterbacks currently in the league right now. Rodgers has thrown for at least 4,000 yards in three of his first four seasons as a starter and was the first NFL quarterback to throw for 4,000 plus in his first two seasons as a starter. He just missed 4,000 yards in 2010 as he threw for 3,922. During his time in Pittsburgh, Clements helped Tommy Maddox earn the The Associated Press Comeback Player of the Year award in 2002 as the Steelers passing offense ranked seventh in the NFL that season. He also coached quarterback Kordell Stewart and Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Elvis Grbac during each of their best seasons. He could be the guy should the Steelers decide not to stay in house with Fichtner. Clements is also considered a candidate for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers open head coaching position.
Jim Caldwell – Caldwell was recently fired by the Indianapolis Colts after 3 seasons as their head coach. Prior to being promoted to the head coaching job he was the Colts quarterbacks coach and assistant head coach under Tony Dungy for 7 seasons. He also worked under Dungy in 2001 as the Buccaneers quarterbacks coach and has been in coaching since the late 1970\’s. Like Fichtner and Clements, he too is versed in a wide open passing attack and coached Colts quarterback Peyton Manning for several years. Being part of the Dungy coaching tree will certainly help his chances. Tomlin and Caldwell reportedly talk quite a bit and have a good relationship after coaching on the Buccaneers staff together under Dungy.
Hue Jackson – Jackson is 46 years old and was fired by the Oakland Raiders after one season as head coach. He was the Raiders offensive coordinator in 2010 and in that season the team finished fourth in the AFC and sixth in the NFL in scoring and fifth in the AFC and 10th in the NFL in total offense. Prior to joining the Raiders, Jackson was the Baltimore Ravens quarterbacks coach where he coached quarterback Joe Flacco for his first two seasons in the league. In 2007 he was the offensive coordinator for the Atlanta Falcons for just one season under then head coach Bobby Petrino and interim head coach Emmitt Thomas and also has coached on offense prior to that for the Washington Redskins and Cincinnati Bengals. He has been in coaching since the late 1980\’s in either the college or professional ranks.
Todd Haley – Haley, the youngest of the candidates on this list at 44 years of age, is the son of Dick Haley, who used to be the Steelers Director of Player Personnel from 1971–1990. He was fired by the Kansas City Chiefs late in the 2011 season after being their head coach since 2009. Prior to the Chiefs he was the offensive coordinator for the Arizona Cardinals for two seasons under Ken Whisenhunt, the Steelers previous offensive coordinator before Tomlin was hired as head coach. Since 1997 Haley has also coached on the staffs of the Dallas Cowboys, Chicago Bears and the New York Jets. He got his start in the scouting department of the Jets in 1995 when his father was the Jets Director of Player Personnel.