Steelers Identify New Candidate for Offensive Coordinator

Pep Hamilton with Andrew Luck

Andy Lyons/Getty Images Andrew Luck of the Indianapolis Colts talks with offensive coordinator Pep Hamilton before a game against the Jacksonville Jaguars on October 4, 2015.

There are now at least three candidates to become the new offensive coordinator for the Pittsburgh Steelers.

According to Josina Anderson, host of the digital show & podcast ‘Undefined with Josina Anderson,’ the Steelers have requested an interview with Los Angeles Chargers quarterbacks coach Pep Hamilton.

As such, it was perhaps premature to anoint Steelers quarterbacks coach Matt Canada as the likely successor to Randy Fichtner, as was reported almost a week ago. In the days since, the Steelers have also interviewed former Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson for the role, and other candidates might yet emerge.

Meanwhile, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin is trying to find a new offensive line coach to replace Shaun Sarrett, with Hank Fraley in for an interview on Thursday. There’s also the matter of finding a new tight ends coach to take over for James Daniels, who retired last week.

Pep Hamilton: Quarterback Whisperer?

But Pep Hamilton is a particularly intriguing candidate for offensive coordinator; that’s why at least one other NFL team is interested in him as well.

According to ESPN’s Cameron Wolfe, he’s a candidate for the Miami Dolphins offensive coordinator job, as is the aforementioned Canada.

Hamilton is a hot commodity at the moment because of his tutelage of Los Angeles Chargers rookie quarterback Justin Herbert, who has already been named the Pro Football Writers of America 2020 Rookie of the Year, as well as its Offensive Rookie of the Year, not to mention Pro Football Talk’s Offensive Rookie of the Year.

In 15 games, Herbert completed 66.6 percent of his passes for 4,336 yards with 31 touchdowns against only 10 interceptions. He set rookie records for total touchdowns (36), passing touchdowns (31), completions (396) and games with 300 yards passing (eight), among other records. He fell just 39 yards short of Andrew Luck’s rookie record of 4,374 yards passing, Luck being another QB that Hamilton has tutored, both at Stanford University and with the Indianapolis Colts.

Hamilton’s Coaching Journey

Hamilton’s coaching career began at Howard University in 1997, before he moved on to the New York Jets in 2003. He has also labored for the San Francisco 49ers, Chicago Bears and Cleveland Browns. More recently he worked alongside Jim Harbaugh at the University of Michigan, where he served as passing game coordinator (PGC) and associate head coach (2017) and PGC and quarterbacks coach (2018). In 2020 he was the head coach/general manager of the DC Defenders of the XFL before getting the job with the Los Angeles Chargers.

Hamilton gained a toehold in the NFL by serving as a summer coaching intern for the Kansas City Chiefs (2000) and then the Washington Football Team (2001). Some of the other quarterbacks he has schooled include: Chad Pennington (New York Jets), Alex Smith (San Francisco 49ers) and Jay Cutler (Chicago Bears).

Steelers WRs Coach Interviewing with the Detroit Lions

Meanwhile, it appears that Steelers wide receivers coach Ike Hilliard is a candidate to become offensive coordinator for the Detroit Lions.

Hilliard—a former first-round draft pick of the New York Giants (No. 7 overall in 1997)—has ten years of experience as a wide receivers coach in the NFL, mostly in Washington but also in Buffalo and Miami.

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