Friday’s First Call has an update on interviews with the Pittsburgh Steelers general manager. We also take a look at the franchise’s off-season to-do list. Mike Tomlin pays respects to a retired Baltimore Raven. And an ex-penguin plays a role in St. Louis’ win in Colorado on Thursday night.
Keep in the house (part 2)
After giving a second interview to Omar Khan, vice president of football and operations, the Steelers took a second look at another internal candidate to replace Kevin Colbert as general manager.
The organization announced Thursday that Pro Scouting Director Brandon Hunt has received a second interview.
We completed a second interview for our General Manager position #Steeler Pro Scouting Coordinator Brandon Hunt.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) May 19, 2022
Hunt has been with the Steelers since 2010. He interviewed for the Raiders GM opening earlier this year. The Bills and Eagles have also spoken to him about various front office openings at their organizations.
Pitt Product, alumnus of Upper St. Clair and ex-Bills GM Doug Whaley was also interviewed twice. So did Buccaneers vice president of player personnel John Spytek, Eagles vice president of player personnel Andy Weidl, and Titans vice president of player personnel Ryan Cowden.
ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler says the trial may finally be coming to an end.
The Steelers wrap up GM interviews this week – they may already wrap up, with Brandon Hunt being the last of the six known finalists to be interviewed. But Pittsburgh’s plan is to have that process complete by this week and then work on the next steps, I’m told. Getting closer.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) May 20, 2022
Colbert has been the Steelers’ front office manager since 2000.
What remains to be done
Whenever someone takes over Colbert, they have a lot to do.
NFL.com’s Marc Sessler has compiled a list of a big offseason priority that every NFL team needs to address. For the Steelers, in his opinion, it’s finding pass-rushing depth.
“The overhaul of Pittsburgh’s (offensive) offense is underway, but holes remain in the roster on the other side of the ball,” Sessler wrote. “Beyond TJ Watt and Alex Highsmith, the Steelers are razor-thin full-backs. Should the Steelers miss either time, they won’t be able to count on Genard Avery or Derrek Tuszka to fill the gap. It’s a difficult time of year to find help, but stock cuts could provide an answer. The Steelers specialize in filling in gaps with veterans.”
Like Melvin Ingram, right? That worked great.
But that doesn’t mean the Steelers shouldn’t try again. Sessler is right. The position needs to be strengthened. The front office just has to find the right personality this year. Ingram was clearly not that guy in 2021.
I would also argue that finding a similar type of backup that rolls back is just as challenging. But the key question for the team to resolve at this point is what’s going on with Stephon Tuitt.
You need to make that decision and make a call about what to do with contract extensions for Diontae Johnson and Minkah Fitzpatrick.
Top of Tomlin’s hat
Of all the things that revolve around the Steelers’ rivalry with the Baltimore Ravens, one thing that might not move the needle is a player’s retirement.
But Steelers coach Mike Tomlin certainly took note of that development on Thursday.
Longtime Ravens punter Sam Koch has announced his retirement after 16 years in the NFL. He will join the Baltimore coaching staff immediately as a consultant for special teams.
Tomlin took to Twitter to congratulate Koch on his good career.
Sam Koch…much respect!
— Mike Tomlin (@CoachTomlin) May 19, 2022
At every press conference Tomlin has held before a Ravens game, he has always taken the time to give Baltimore special teams lots of praise, particularly chef and kicker Jason Tucker.
Koch was part of the Ravens’ Super Bowl XLVII team. He was a Pro Bowler and second-team All-Pro in 2015.
Other side of the coin
Much has been said about the celebration of the Immaculate Conception that will take place on Christmas Eve at Heinz Field. NFL planners and the Steelers came together to bring the Raiders to Pittsburgh for the 50th anniversary of this event.
But as it turns out, the Steelers will have to endure another anniversary celebration from this year — one that Black and Gold fans won’t enjoy as much.
As the folks at Steelers Depot have found out, Sunday night’s Oct. 23 primetime game in Miami will be a celebration of the Dolphins’ unbeaten campaign in 1972. They beat the Steelers in the AFC Championship game that year, a week after the Steelers dispatched the Raiders via the Immaculate Reception.
According to a podcast with NBC Sports football writer Peter King, NFL planning officers Mike North and Howard Katz said they had spoken in advance with the Dolphins about setting up this game as an anniversary special for the team’s 1972 performance.
The Steelers were already destined to play in Miami based on the NFL’s scheduling formula, it was just a matter of timing and time.
Former penguin in the game
The St. Louis Blues tied their second-round playoff series with the Colorado Avalanche every game. They won Thursday’s second game of the Western Conference Semifinals 4-1.
Ex-Penguin David Perron scored two of the goals. The first was a 5v3 powerplay.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 20, 2022
Wow. Some teams even score with a two-man advantage. Is that allowed? who knew
Perron also scored in that two-on-one.
— St. Louis Blues (@StLouisBlues) May 20, 2022
That was Perron’s 10th point of the postseason. Gibsonia’s Brandon Saad added an empty goal. Game 3 takes place in St. Louis on Saturday.