Everest: 'Professional differences' reason Steelers fired him
Posted Aug. 24, 2012
By Eric Edholm
Former Steelers special-teams coach Al Everest, who was let go by the club Thursday, told Pro Football Weekly Friday morning that the move was because of "professional differences" with the club.
Everest would not specify further on the matter, saying, "Itís a professional differences deal. Iíll proceed from here. Thatís where it is right now."
It's highly unusual for teams to fire coaches in the middle of the preseason. When asked about the curious timing and whether he was surprised by the move, Everest said, "It was a surprise for me, but the bottom line is that it was about professional differences."
The Steelers promoted assistant special-teams coach Amos Jones to replace Everest. The team issued a statement from head coach Mike Tomlin on the move. It read: "We are continually evaluating our coaching staff and support staff, and we have decided to go in a different direction with respect to the coaching of our special teams. I want to thank Al for his contributions and efforts, and I wish him well in the future."
Everest wouldn't specifically say what his next move would be or if he had any recourse, but hinted that he might have taken issue with the firing.
"I've got to pursue my course of action, and theyíve obviously taken theirs," Everest said. "Hopefully it works itself out."
Everest was hired by the Steelers prior to the 2010 season, mere days after being let go by the 49ers, a move that was considered a surprise at the time. When asked about his firing in San Francisco, Everest declined to comment.
Everest helped the Steelers' special-teams units improve in '10 when they reached Super Bowl XLV but lost to the Packers. He was set to enter his 16th season in the NFL.
Al Everest Firing Brings Up Past Preseason Coordinator Changes
by Neal Coolong on Aug 24, 2012
One doesn't need to look very far outside Pittsburgh to see previous mid-preseason coordinator changes.
As Tribune-Review reporter Alan Robinson points out, Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley fired his offensive coordinator, Chan Gailey, in his first season as head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs. Haley, though, is an offensive-minded coach and was coming off a successful offensive coordinator stint in Arizona in 2008. Clearly, philosophical differences could - and probably did - exist. Haley gave Gailey three preseason games, Steelers coach Mike Tomlin gave Everest two games.
And Tomlin replaced Everest in-house, promoting Amos Jones from the assistant position. Curiously, Robinson wrote "Everest was abruptly fired as special teams coordinator following practice Thursday and replaced by his assistant, Amos Jones, who already was doing much of the on-field coaching."
Is that to suggest Everest was pulling a Peter Gibbons in Office Space? Were the Bobs not on site to protect Everest from Tomlin's wrath?
The timing is interesting, but where there's smoke, there's fire. The Steelers' punt returns so far in preseason haven't been even remotely impressive. As a group - Marquis Maze and Chris Rainey - are averaging four yards a return.
While that isn't going to make many coaches happy, there have been two preseason games, and both of the returners they've used are rookies. Everest's coverage and return teams have been around average - 12th in kick coverage, 16th in punt coverage, no returns longer than 45 yards. In other words, his teams have shown positive results during the regular season, and after two years of that, it seems confusing Everest would be on his way out, unless there was a legitimate beef between Everest and at least one other member of the coaching staff.
Maybe it had something to do with who was returning kicks. Maybe we'll see different players back there Saturday against Buffalo.
Either way, let's hope a shake-up produces better results in at least currently substandard punt return game. They'll have to be prepared, because clearly Tomlin doesn't feel preseason results don't matter.
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