Keith Butler has waited a long time to become an NFL defensive coordinator, but he can wait a little longer to publicly reveal what changes he intends to implement now that he's succeeded Dick LeBeau as the coordinator of the Steelers' defense.
"I'll let the Patriots figure that out when we play them," Butler said, already eyeing the regular-season opener on Sept. 10 at New England.
For Butler, a linebackers coach in Cleveland from 1999-2002 and with the Steelers from 2003 through last season, it's already been worth the wait.
As an experienced, respected assistant who had been a member of two Super Bowl-winning staffs in Pittsburgh, Butler's name had circulated around the league in recent seasons. And discussions had taken place about his possibly accepting a promotion in Miami, Indianapolis, Arizona and Tennessee.
But Butler made it clear upon being made available to the media after the Steelers wrapped up week three of OTAs that he never wanted to leave.
"Even as a player when I played in Seattle, I went through a couple of strikes and at the time I always talked to a lot of Steelers players and they didn't want to be in those strikes because of their love for the Rooneys," Butler explained. "The Rooneys have always really kind of been the premier of the league in terms of trying to win Super Bowls.
"To me, if you're going to coach in this game you want to win Super Bowls. I've always thought this place gave me the best chance to win a Super Bowl as a coordinator. That's one of the reasons I always stayed. The other reason is that Coach (Mike) Tomlin is a great guy to work for."
Tomlin was a graduate assistant in 1996 on a University of Memphis staff that included Butler as the linebackers/defensive ends/special teams coach.
And Tomlin coached defensive backs at Arkansas State in 1998 when Butler was the defensive coordinator/linebackers coach there.
So there's a relationship between the two that predates Tomlin being named head coach of the Steelers in 2007, and Butler intends to take full advantage of that.
"Oh yes, I look for his input," Butler said. "I have known him for a long time. I know what he thinks for the most part. He worked with Tony Dungy (in Tampa). He learned a lot from Dungy. Dungy was a great coach. Coach Tomlin was a defensive coordinator for the Minnesota Vikings. It would be foolish for me not to get advice or input from him when his expertise is defense.
"I don't know everything there is to know about defense. I am going to make some stupid calls out there. I hope my players can cover up for me sometimes. I would be crazy and arrogant to think I could do this without other coaches' help."