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Colts Reportedly to Hire Two Steelers Coaches: Fan Reaction
Somewhat lost among the Super Bowl XLVI hubbub in Indianapolis are reports that the Indianapolis Colts are planning to hire two former Pittsburgh Steelers coaches, Bruce Arians and Keith Butler—moves that, if true, should prove beneficial to the Colts.
Arians spent the past eight seasons with the Steelers, the past five as their offensive coordinator. Before moving to Pittsburgh, he was the Colts' quarterbacks coach from 1998 through 2000—the first three seasons of Peyton Manning's professional career. He spent 2001 through 2003 as the Cleveland Browns' offensive coordinator. He is expected to be hired by the Colts in the same capacity.
Arians played quarterback for Virginia Tech and immediately began his coaching career with the Hokies in 1975 after his graduation. He has held a variety of coaching positions with college programs such as Mississippi State, Alabama, and Temple, where he was head coach from 1983 through 1988. In the NFL, he has worked for the Kansas City Chiefs, the New Orleans Saints, the Colts, the Browns, and the Steelers.
Arians' contract with the Steelers was not renewed after the 2011 season—a move that does not make quarterback Ben Roethlisberger happy—perhaps amid concern that Pittsburgh had strayed from its history of a run-oriented offense. Since becoming the offensive coordinator in 2007, Arians' offenses have ranked No. 12 in the league this season, No. 14 in 2010, No. 7 in 2009, No. 22 in 2008, and No. 17 in 2007, according to the Indianapolis Star.
The Steelers, however, made the playoffs in four of Arians' five seasons as offensive coordinator, winning Super Bowl XLIII against the Arizona Cardinals in 2009 and competing in Super Bowl XLV against the Green Bay Packers two seasons later. Additionally, Roethlisberger and wide receivers Mike Wallace and Antonio Brown were all selected for the 2012 Pro Bowl.
Butler is expected to be the Colts' next defensive coordinator. He has been the linebackers coach for the Steelers since 2003. He served in the same capacity with the Browns for the previous four seasons. In 2008, Pro Football Weekly named him the NFL's Linebacker Coach of the Year.
After starting for three years at linebacker for Memphis, where he led the Tigers in tackles during his junior and senior seasons, Butler was drafted with the 36th overall pick by the Seattle Seahawks in 1978. He is No. 2 all-time in Seahawks history with 813 tackles in his 10-year career there. He began his coaching career in 1990.
Products of Butler's coaching success include Steelers linebackers James Farrior, James Harrison, and LaMarr Woodley. All three have been selected to the Pro Bowl during Butler's time in Pittsburgh, and Harrison is on the 2012 Pro Bowl roster.
The Steelers, known for their defense for years, finished the 2011 regular season allowing the fewest points per game, the fewest total yards per game, and the fewest passing yards per game in the league. In those three categories, the Colts finished fifth-worst, eighth-worst, and fourth-worst, respectively.
Assuming that these reports turn out to be true, these will be two very good hires for Indianapolis. Colts fans are certainly used to a pass-oriented offense, so Arians' style of offense will fit right in. It's also good news for Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, Robert Griffin III, or whoever lines up at quarterback for Indy in 2012. The Steelers offense didn't put up the gaudy offensive statistics under Arians that Colts fans are used to, but it's hard to deny Pittsburgh's winning ways.
The Colts may or may not have decided "weeks ago" to release Manning—a claim that team owner Jim Irsay refutes—but if Manning remains a Colt in 2012, it can't hurt to have a familiar face for him at offensive coordinator.
Butler should infuse a desperately-needed fire into the Colts defense. He certainly can't make things any worse on that side of the ball. As a lifelong Seahawks fan, I remember Butler's play in Seattle, and he played like a man possessed, always around the ball and delivering crushing tackles—in many ways reminding me of Colts linebacker Pat Angerer. That passion has clearly made the jump with him into coaching, as the Steelers defense as a whole—and their linebackers in particular—are perennially among the league's elite.
The potential hirings of the two Steelers coaches should also sit well with the multitude of Hoosiers who show up to sports bars around Indianapolis on a weekly basis decked out in black and gold. For whatever reasons, there is a large Steelers fan base in central Indiana.
I like the reported additions of Arians and Butler. So far, the new regime under Irsay, general manager Ryan Grigson, and head coach Chuck Pagano appears to be off to a good start.
The author is a resident of central Indiana and a longtime fan of the Colts. He is also a Featured Contributor in Sports for the Yahoo! Contributor Network. You can follow him on Twitter at @RedZoneWriting and on Facebook.
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