Cameron Heyward Reacts to Steelers Interviewing Recently Fired Head Coach for OC

Defensive lineman Cameron Heyward has been vocal about who he would prefer the Pittsburgh Steelers hire as their next offensive coordinator. Former head coach Arthur Smith was not on Heyward’s short list. But the defensive lineman still had positive things to say about the possibility Smith could land in Pittsburgh as the team’s offensive coordinator.

Cameron Heyward Arthur Smith

“I think if you look at what he did in Tennessee having Derrick Henry, I think he won the MVP while he was there,” Heyward told his co-host Hayden Walsh on The Not Just Football Podcast on January 29. “[Ryan] Tannehill played very well that year as well.

“He’s definitely had a lot of success. I know last year wasn’t a lot of success and things went wrong and that’s the reason why he was fired. But he’s an OC.”

Smith was head coach of the Atlanta Falcons from 2021-23. The team went 7-10 in all three of his seasons.

Prior to that, Smith served as Tennessee Titans offensive coordinator in 2019 and 2020.

Steelers Interview Arthur Smith for Offensive Coordinator Opening

NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero reported on January 28 that the Steelers were interviewing Smith as an offensive coordinator candidate. The team then announced the completion of the interview on its X (formerly Twitter) account.

The Falcons struggled offensively with Smith as head coach. In two of his three seasons, Atlanta finished 26th in points scored. The team also never ended a season under Smith better than 17th in yards.

Smith’s biggest error in Atlanta was tying his success to third-round quarterback Desmond Ridder. The signal caller next off the draft board in 2022 after Kenny Pickett, Ridder had 12 interceptions and 12 fumbles in 15 games during 2023.

But despite the problems at quarterback and on offense overall, Smith established strong running games in Atlanta. The Falcons ended the 2022 and 2023 seasons with a top 10 rushing offense.

In 2022, they were third in rushing yards and fourth in yards per carry.

Tennessee’s running game is what landed Smith the job with the Falcons. Under Smith, the Titans offense was third in rushing yards in 2019 and second in 2020.

Also during 2020, the Titans were second in yards overall and fourth in points scored.

Tannehill led the NFL with 9.6 yards per attempt in 2019 with Smith as his offensive coordinator. Tannehill then had his best NFL season in 2020, as he posted 3,819 passing yards with 33 touchdowns and only 7 interceptions.

Due to his desire to establish the run and experience developing Tannehill, The Athletic’s Mark Kaboly called Smith “a nice fit” for the Steelers.

Heyward Pokes Fun at Potential Steelers OC Candidate Kliff Kingsbury

With the Smith interview, the Steelers are back to three candidates for their offensive coordinator role. Depending on who fans believe, there could be a fourth.

NBC Sports’ Peter King said during an appearance on 93.7 The Fan on January 23 that the Steelers were planning to speak with another former NFL head coach in Kliff Kingsbury. From 2019-22, Kingsbury coached the Arizona Cardinals to a 28-37-1 record.

However, The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac said while on 105.9 The X two days later that Kingsbury is not currently on Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator candidate list.

Walsh expressed satisfaction with Kingsbury not considered a candidate. The podcast host joked that the coach receives job opportunities only because he is good looking.

Heyward had a different reason why Kingsbury shouldn’t be Pittsburgh’s next coordinator.

“He coached Pat Mahomes, and they didn’t win anything,” Heyward said.

Kingsbury was Mahomes’ head coach at Texas Tech from 2014-16. Despite having Mahomes as his quarterback, Kingsbury led Texas Tech to a 16-21 record.

Heyward, though, quickly stopped himself from poking anymore fun at Kingsbury.

“He’s probably going to be the OC, so let me just shut up.”

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