Austin named defensive coordinator

The Steelers named Teryl Austin their defensive coordinator, replacing Keith Butler who retired last month.

Austin has been with the team since 2019, serving as the senior defensive assistant/secondary for three seasons and has 18 years of coaching experience in the NFL. Since his arrival in Pittsburgh in 2019, the Steelers have allowed just four 300-yard passers, which is the fewest in the NFL during the span.

In 2021 Austin's group was ranked fifth in the AFC against the pass, and ninth in the NFL. The defense was also fifth in the NFL in opponent's percentage of targets that were receptions, tied for seventh in opponent touchdown passes, eighth in yards after the catch and tied for eight in passes defensed.

Austin also helped to develop 2021 seventh-round draft pick Tre Norwood, who not only made the 53-man roster, but played in all 17 games, starting three.

"I can't even tell you the amount of stuff that Coach T.A. taught me this year," said Norwood. "I've learned so much from him. Coming in, him teaching me the scheme off the bat. And his understanding of the game of football. He's a great teacher. I think that's an integral part of being a great coach and he does that in every aspect, whether it's technique standpoint, a scheme standpoint, that's something that stands out to me a lot. I learned from my first time in the building all the way through this entire season every week each and every day. In the meeting room, on the field. I was always learning from Coach T.A. because he's such a smart coach and just knows the game of football."

Austin guided a secondary in 2020 that ranked as one of the NFL's best groups. The secondary limited 11 of their opponents that season to a completion percentage below 60, which led the NFL. Steelers opponents average a 56.7 completion percentage, and a 76.7 average quarterback ranking, both leading the NFL and the lowest by a Steelers defense since 2011. The Steelers finished strong in multiple NFL categories in 2020, including interceptions (tied for 1st), takeaways (2nd), games with multiple takeaways (1st) and passes defensed (1st).

"T.A. is a great coach. I love his attention to detail," said safety Minkah Fitzpatrick. "The way he approaches the game. He lets players have a voice. A lot of coaches don't really let players have a voice. He loves the game. He played in the past, so he has a natural love of the game and it's reflective in the way he coaches. He is a guy with a whole lot of experience as well. There's not too much he hasn't seen."

In his first season with the Steelers, the defense ranked in the Top 5 in the league in interceptions (2nd), interception rate (2nd) pass defense (3rd), yards per play allowed (3rd), passes defensed (3rd) opposing passer rating (4th), pass yards per attempt allowed (4th), total defense (5th) and scoring defense (5th).

"(He's) a passionate leader. A guy who's really a player's coach," said cornerback Cameron Sutton. "It's always easier when you're able to relate and able to talk to people on a level that goes beyond just defining a role, or defining an assignment, that type of thing. He's able to detail it out with every individual. He's able to get through with every individual, whether it's with defensive backs or any other guys around the team. He's a real personable person who really enjoys what he does."

Before joining the Steelers in 2019, Austin earned a wealth of experience throughout the NFL.

He began his career as a defensive backs/secondary coach with the Seattle Seahawks (2003-06), Arizona Cardinals (2007-09) and Baltimore Ravens (2011-13), with Super Bowl appearances at all three stops, including winning one with the Ravens in 2011.

Austin took over as the defensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions in 2014 and was there for four seasons, before becoming the Cincinnati Bengals defensive coordinator in 2018.

He played in the World League of American Football for one season (1991) with the Montreal Machine, before starting a coaching career in college football. He was a graduate assistant at Penn State and spent time on the defensive coaching staffs of Wake Forest, Syracuse, Michigan and Florida.

Austin has strong ties to the Pittsburgh area. He is a native of Sharon, Pa. and played at the University of Pittsburgh (1983-87), where he earned his degree in communications.

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