Cowher fills out coaching staff

<b>PITTSBURGH - </b> Steelers Coach Bill Cowher put the finishing touches to his coaching staff Thursday by filling four positions and promoting second-year assistant Darren Perry to defensive backs coach.

The most noteworthy addition is wide receivers coach Bruce Arians, who served as offensive coordinator for the Cleveland Browns the past three seasons.

The Steelers also hired quarterbacks coach Mark Whipple, tight ends coach James Daniel and assistant defensive backs coach Ray Horton.

Arians, 51, was fired by Browns Coach Butch Davis a day after the Browns completed their 5-11 season. Davis cited the lack of improvement made during Arians' three seasons as offensive coordinator.

Under Arians, the Browns were 31st, 23rd and 26th (2003) in yardage, and 25th, 19th and 29th (2003) in points. Last year, the Browns averaged 15.9 points per game and didn't score a touchdown in five games.

According to Cleveland newspaper accounts of the dismissal, Davis fired Arians in order to improve the running game and to go back to a more traditional two-back set. Arians used one back, a tight end and an H-back most of the time.

Arians has coached football the past 29 years since being named team MVP as Virginia Tech's quarterback in 1974. He coached under Paul "Bear" Bryant at Alabama (1981-82) before becoming head coach at Temple (1983-88). During that time, Temple upset heavily favored Pitt in back-to-back years.

Arians came to the NFL as running backs coach with the Kansas City Chiefs (1989-92). During that time he met Cowher, who was the Chiefs' defensive coordinator. Arians' 11-year NFL odyssey also includes a stint (1998-2000) with the Indianapolis Colts as Peyton Manning's quarterbacks coach.

The Steelers' new quarterbacks coach, Whipple, 46, was the head coach at the University of Massachusetts the past six seasons.

At UMass, he was 49-25 (.662) with a Division I-AA national championship in 1998. Last year's team went 10-3. He had previously coached New Haven and Brown universities and has compiled an overall record of 121-59 in 16 years as a head coach.

Whipple was contacted by Cowher last week and flew here last weekend. He succeeds Tom Clements and becomes only the third quarterbacks coach in franchise history.

According to the Boston Globe, Whipple "had struggled with the conflict of staying at UMass as it attempts to move from Division 1-AA to 1-A."

"As much as I loved being a head coach," Whipple told The Globe, "there were elements that took up a lot of your time. Now I can just focus on becoming a better all-around coach."

Daniel, 51, spent the past seven seasons with the Atlanta Falcons, mostly as the Falcons' tight ends coach. He began his NFL coaching career as the tight ends coach of the New York Giants (1993-96).

Horton, 43, has 10 years of NFL coaching experience following a 10-year NFL playing career. He spent the past two seasons as the secondary coach with the Detroit Lions. Prior to joining the Lions' staff, he served five years as a defensive backs coach with the Cincinnati Bengals, where he worked under Steelers defensive coordinator and former Bengals coach Dick LeBeau. Horton began his NFL coaching career as an assistant defensive backs coach for the Washington Redskins (1994-96).

Through a statement issued by the club, Cowher said: "We believe this group of coaches brings a wealth of experience and diversity to our staff. We look forward to having them join our staff to begin preparing for the 2004 season."

Steel City Insider Top Stories