Steelers Lose Sweepstakes for Top OC Candidate to Falcons

The Pittsburgh Steelers were one of at least six teams to pursue Los Angeles Rams quarterbacks coach Zac Robinson for their offensive coordinator opening this offseason.

Mike Tomlin Zac Robinson

The Steelers didn’t win the sweepstakes.

NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport reported on January 27 that the Atlanta Falcons are adding Robinson as their offensive coordinator under new head coach Raheem Morris.

“Sources: The Falcons are hiring Rams pass-game coordinator Zac Robinson as their new OC under Raheem Morris,” tweeted Rapoport.

“One of the most popular interviews on the OC circuit, Robinson was Morris’ top choice.”

In addition to the Steelers, Rapoport reported on January 26 that Robinson had received interview requests from the New Orleans Saints, New England Patriots, Las Vegas Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But in Atlanta, Robinson will work under Morris. The two coaches spent three seasons together and won a Super Bowl with the Rams.

Atlanta Falcons Hiring Zac Robinson as Offensive Coordinator

Outside of the candidates for head coach openings, Robinson was arguably the hottest name in this year’s coaching cycle. He could have landed with a bunch of teams. Ultimately, he chose to work under a familiar head coach.

This will be Robinson’s first NFL coaching job not with the Rams. He began his NFL coaching career as the Rams assistant quarterbacks coach in 2019. Robinson became the team’s assistant wide receivers coach in 2020 and then returned to his assistant quarterbacks role in 2021.

The past two seasons, Robinson served as Los Angeles’ passing game coordinator and quarterbacks coach.

Morris and Robinson worked together with the Rams from 2021-23. During that time, Morris was Los Angeles’ defensive coordinator.

The Rams won the Super Bowl during the 2021-22 season.

Although Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin told the media during his post-season press conference on January 18 that he preferred candidates with previous coordinator experience, Steelers insiders considered Robinson a strong candidate for Pittsburgh’s offensive coordinator role.

Through the first two weeks of the offseason, Robinson was one of three candidates the Steelers requested to interview for their offensive coordinator opening.

Steelers Have 2 Offensive Coordinator Candidates Remaining

With Robinson now unavailable, the Steelers are down to two candidates for offensive coordinator — Thomas Brown and Jerrod Johnson.

Brown meets Tomlin’s prerequisite of previous offensive coordinator experience. He served as Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator last season.

Ironically, Brown coached with Robinson with the Rams from 2020-22. Brown was Los Angeles’ running backs coach from 2020-21. In 2022, he coached tight ends for the Rams.

Like Robinson, Johnson has never been an offensive coordinator, but he’s one of the hottest names to receive an opportunity as a coordinator and play caller next season. In 2023, Johnson was in his first season as Houston Texans quarterbacks coach.

Johnson was an offensive quality control coach from 2020-21 with the Indianapolis Colts. He was also an assistant quarterbacks coach for the Minnesota Vikings in 2022.

Although Brown and Johnson are the only two names remaining on Pittsburgh’s short list for offensive coordinator, there are a lot of other candidates potentially still available. NFL pundits have connected the Steelers to numerous possible coaches, including San Francisco 49ers passing game coordinator Klint Kubiak.

Former NFL head coaches Kliff Kingsbury and Arthur Smith have been floated as possibilities in the media as well.

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