Two weeks ago, Stephen A. Smith set social media ablaze with an assessment of the Chargers-Chiefs game that included commentary on the expected performance of L.A. tight end Hunter Henry, who tore an ACL during offseason workouts and hasn’t played at all this year.
That was bad; this is worse.
In an exclusive! sit-down with the website owned and operated by the Steelers, Pittsburgh defensive coordinator Keith Butler gave a pregame assessment of Bengals tight end Tyler Eifert. And here’s what Butler said about a guy who hasn’t played since September 30: “I think he’s very good. I think he’s up there. He can get deep on you. He does a good job of catching the ball downfield, all that stuff. So he’s going to be a problem for us to cover.”
Steelers.com has removed the video, but SteelersDepot.com has obtained and posted the audio. It’s clear that this wasn’t some pre-canned interview; it was a fresh discussion taped after the loss to the Saints, and Labriola specifically mentioned the absence of quarterback Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green due to injury.
In fact, the topic first emerged when Labriola asked Butler, “Who are the receivers who are picking it up for [Green’s] absence, besides Tyler Eifert, the tight end?” In response, Butler didn’t say, “Well, Eifert’s actually injured, too.” Butler said without hesitation, “Well, Tyler’s doing a good job.”
(To be fair to Butler, there’s another Tyler who plays tight end for the Bengals. He’s Tyler Kroft. However, Kroft also is on injured reserve.)
Later in the interview, Labriola asked for a specific assessment of Eifert. And Butler again responded without hesitation, providing the quote appearing above.
Beyond Labriola not realizing that Eifert is on IR (which is sloppy but not necessarily alarming since he’s not, you know, the defensive coordinator), Butler didn’t know (which is extremely alarming). Beyond Labriola and Butler, the entire Steelers.com production team (to the extent there is one) that heard the interview didn’t flinch at the notion that Labriola asks, and Butler answers, a question about a guy has been on IR for weeks.
As one league source informed of the gaffe pointed out to PFT, Butler’s assessment is technically correct. Eifert will definitely be a problem for the Steelers to cover.