Two former Detroit Lions coordinators have landed new opportunities this week.
Former defensive coordinator Teryl Austin is being promoted to the same role in Pittsburgh after coaching the team’s secondary the past three years. The news was first reported by the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette and has been confirmed to The Detroit News by a source familiar with the situation. The contract is expected to be finalized Monday.
Austin served as Detroit’s defensive coordinator from 2014-17, coming aboard as part of Jim Caldwell’s staff. Austin’s unit thrived in 2014, turning in one of the best performances in franchise history. The defense finished in the top-three in both yards and points allowed that season, leading to Austin being considered for a number of head coaching positions the following offseason.
After the departure of Ndamukong Suh in free agency, Detroit’s defense regressed the next three seasons, finishing in the middle of the pack in points allowed each year.
Austin, along with offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter, both interviewed for the Lions head-coaching job after Caldwell was fired following the 2017 season, but the team ultimately opted to hire Matt Patricia.
From Detroit, Austin signed on as a coordinator with the Cincinnati Bengals, but was fired late in the season after his defense became the first in NFL history to allow 500 yards in three consecutive games. He joined Pittsburgh’s staff the following offseason.
In his first year with the Steelers, the team finished 21st in passer rating against before sharply improving. They finished fourth in the same category in 2020 and were the NFL’s best last season, allowing quarterbacks to complete just 56.7% of their passes while ranking up 18 interceptions, which were also both best in the league.
Austin will be replacing Keith Butler, who retired this offseason after 19 years with the franchise.
In addition to Austin, former Lions offensive coordinator Anthony Lynn has also found his next opportunity. He’ll be joining the San Francisco 49ers as an assistant head coach, according to an ESPN report.
Lynn lasted just one season as a coordinator in Detroit before parting with the franchise this offseason. The former Los Angeles Chargers head coach had his play-calling duties taken away by Dan Campbell midseason, leading to the eventual split.
“I just think it wasn’t a fit,” Campbell said the day after the season. “You want it to be, but I think we just never found our groove or our rhythm, if you will. It’s hard to really pinpoint. Sometimes it just doesn’t work out the way you want.”
Lynn’s relationship with 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan dates to Lynn’s playing days in Denver, where Shanahan served as a ball boy for the franchise that was coached by father Mike Shanahan.
“I’ve always kept in touch with him since he got into coaching,” Kyle Shanahan said in a 2018 interview. “He’s been one of the most impressive people I’ve been around. I know he was always one of my dad’s favorite players, he was always one of my favorite people as a kid and he hasn’t changed in the last 20 years. He’s a person I consider a very close friend.”