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Steelers Should Talk to Munchak

By Ed Bouchette
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette 6 years ago

Good morning,

So the Steelers today are looking for one assistant coach. What happened to all the bloodletting on offense the team was going to make after the season?

Perhaps things did change, but the NFL Network, which beat this thing to death at mid-season, has now reversed itself. The NFL Network, which reported that Ben Roethlisberger would ask for a trade in the offseason and that offensive coaches would be gone, now reports that everyone is safe. At least, everyone except poor Jack Bicknell Jr., the offensive line coach who was out of his element with the Steelers and fired on Friday by Mike Tomlin.

Here is what Ian Raporport of the NFL Network said on Saturday on the Network’s NFL GameDay Morning:

“What I am told is Mike Tomlin met with members of the Steelers coaching staff this week and Todd Haley has been informed he is safe into the 2014 season. Couple of the reasons why is he accepted Ben’s request to run more no-huddle when Ben really calls the plays, Tomlin himself got more involved in the offense, and running backs coach Kirby Wilson also took a more active role in game planning.”

Onto some other stuff:

--- If Penn State does not hire former Nittany Lion Mike Munchak might he be interested in becoming the offensive line coach with the Steelers? It’s not that far-fetched if Munchak, a Scranton native, wants to coach in 2014. He’s not going to be a head coach anywhere next season, nor an offensive coordinator. He has one year left on his contract with Tennessee at $3 million so the Titans can pay that salary for another year. Munchak reportedly interviewed with Penn State officials in Nashville Sunday.

The Hall of Fame guard played his entire 12-year career for the Houston Oilers. Munchak then went into coaching and served as offensive line coach for the Titans from 1997 through 2010 before becoming their head coach in 2011.

An important asset Munchak has for the Steelers is his background in running the zone blocking scheme, something the Steelers abandoned early last season after the season-ending injury to center Maurkice Pouncey.

--- If not Munchak, what about Tunch Ilkin? I proposed they hire him last year and had Mike Tomlin done so, he would not be looking for another offensive line coach today.

--- Tomlin does not have a good track record hiring offensive line coaches. The next one will be his fourth as he enters his seventh NFL season. His last one, Bicknell, was not among his first choices but he could not convince some others to take the job last year after Sean Kugler left to become head coach at UTEP (he was 2-10 in his first season).

One line coach who was interested was Russ Grimm. Yes, that’s a bit of a surprise and I only recently learned of this. Grimm coached the Steelers line for six seasons and was the heir apparent to succeed Bill Cowher as head coach in 2007 when the Steelers pulled a surprise and hired Tomlin.

Grimm thought the job was his but said nothing publicly about it and was allowed by the Steelers out of his contract with them. He then followed Ken Whisenhunt as his offensive line coach with the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals fired him after last season and Grimm was paid by them in 2013. Grimm was interested in returning to the Steelers afer Kugler left and there was some interest in that happening by some in the organization. However, Tomlin thought better of it and decided to go elsewhere, which is not surprising considering how everything unfolded when they hired him and not Grimm in 2007.

Tomlin does not seem to fear what others might perceive as threats to his job on his coaching staff. He did hire former Chiefs head coach Todd Haley two years ago and he did keep former Bengals head coach Dick LeBeau on as his defensive coordinator when he was hired.

--- Munchak’s firing brings to two coaches who have lost their jobs even though they beat the Steelers in 2013, and that could grow to three or four. Minnesota’s Leslie Frazier, whose Vikings upset the Steelers in London, was fired after the season. Today, Oakland coach Dennis Allen, whose team upset the Steelers in October, is supposed to meet with management and he too could be gone. Miami coach Joe Philibin, whose team upset the Steelers in a December snowstorm at Heinz Field, was on the hot seat and while it’s not all said and done, it appears he will return to coach the Dolphins in 2014.