The AFC North is in a transition in a variety of ways. The Cincinnati Bengals won the division and are now headed to the AFC Championship Game while the Baltimore Ravens sat at home in the playoffs and have the longest losing streak in the division.
The Cleveland Browns are licking their wounds after a disappointing 2021 while the Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing to move on from the Ben Roethlisberger era.
This weekend, the two stalwarts of the division also have changes coming on the defensive side of the ball. The Ravens announced that they have parted ways with their defensive coordinator, Don ‘Wink; Martindale, after years of success.
Then Saturday, Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler announced that he was retiring from coaching:
Statement from retiring Steelers DC Keith Butler: “It is an emotional day as I announce I am retiring from my football coaching career. I have spent every year since 1990 as a coach in the NFL and the NCAA, but the time is right for me to walk away after a successful career ..”
— Brooke Pryor (@bepryor) January 22, 2022
Butler had been with the Steelers since 2003, taking over as coordinator in 2015 after Dick LeBeau moved on. Pittsburgh’s defense had long been their calling cards under their last two coordinators.
Speaking with ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler, Butler shared his reasons for retiring and revealed he wanted to last year but was talked into staying another year:
Spoke to Keith Butler. Was considering retirement last year but Mike Tomlin asked him for one more go-round so he returned. Plans to play lots of golf and watch grandchildren play sports.
— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) January 22, 2022
Joe Woods is now the longest-tenured defensive coordinator in the AFC North. He was hired two weeks prior to Bengals DC Lou Anarumo.