Fan reaction to the Pittsburgh Steelers’ recent hiring of Arthur Smith has been mixed at best. One guy who doesn’t understand why there has been any fuss is Dick LeBeau.
“I can see him in Black and Gold pretty easy with the philosophical approach Pittsburgh has always taken in football,” LeBeau told Steelers Depot Sunday of the team’s new offensive coordinator. “I think Arthur will fit perfect for them.”
LeBeau doesn’t just draw that conclusion from afar. He and Smith worked for three seasons together with the Tennessee Titans – Smith while he was ascending in the organization and LeBeau at the end of a remarkable 45-year NFL coaching career.
Smith was the assistant tight ends coach when LeBeau arrived in Tennessee in 2015 as the team’s defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. He served as the tight ends coach during LeBeau’s final two seasons with the Titans.
While they coached on different sides of the ball, Dick LeBeau said they became friends through interactions at different team events and other social functions.
“I know him well,” said LeBeau, the defensive coordinator of the last two Steelers teams to win Super Bowl, including the 2008 edition that was led by a historically good defense. “He’s a good, smart, hard-working, young coach. He’s a real good family man, a great guy.”
Since reports surfaced that the Steelers were tabbing Smith to take control of an offense that averaged just 17.9 points a game in 2023, Steelers Depot has done several deep dives on the man and the coach.
It started with Alex Kozora’s big book on Smith. Jeremy Pike has followed with a handful of studies, including one that bodes well for Smith getting even more out of a Steelers ground game that blossomed in the second half of 2023.
Despite the Steelers’ historical sensibilities – winning with a ground game that is just as punishing as their defense – the Smith hire did not move the needle much.
Or at all for some.
One prevailing thought is that the Steelers needed to hire some young QB whisperer who would also open up the offense. That is understandable given the flailing play they got from the position for much of last season — and the fact that their biggest question moving forward is whether Kenny Pickett can become the rightful heir to Ben Roethlisberger.
But to Dick LeBeau, the timing of Smith’s arrival in Pittsburgh couldn’t be better. The Steelers’ strength is running the ball with Najee Harris and Jaylen Warren, and Smith has a track record of producing potent running attacks.
Plus, it’s not like he is going to ignore the rest of the offense just because he likes to pound the rock.
“You can give Coach Smith my [highest] endorsement,” LeBeau said. “I know that he will do everything in his power to get things rolling on that side of the ball.”