Mike Munchak, who grew up in Scranton, Pa., a Steelers fan before he went to Penn State and became a Pro Football Hall of Fame guard, is the new Steelers offensive line coach.
Munchak accepted Mike Tomlin's offer to become his fourth offensive line coach, weeks after he was fired as head coach of the Tennessee Titans. Tomlin interviewed Munchak a few weeks ago to replace Jack Bicknell Jr., who was fired after one season and never seemed to make the necessary adjustments.
Munchak, 53, spent the past three seasons as head coach of the Titans, who defeated the Steelers in the 2013 season opener at Heinz Field. Before that, he coached the Titans offensive line for 14 seasons after a 12-year career as a guard for the Houston Oilers that landed him in the Hall of Fame as part of the same 2001 class with Lynn Swann.
During his tenure as line coach of the Titans, Munchak taught the zone blocking scheme the Steelers want to use but abandoned after their loss to Tennessee. The zone blocking scheme is a good start. We've seen it be successful in Denver for years. The issue is that you need the right pieces to use it effectively. A healthy Pouncey and the emergence of Beachum and DeCastro is a step in the right direction. Marcus Gilbert could really benefit under the tutelage of Munchak. Hopefully, the O-line will be a strength next season and the offense will be all the better for it. Keeping Roethlisberger upright is a key. I remember during the Patriots game where unblocked blitzers were constantly in the backfield putting pressure on Roethlisberger. The announcers were saying during that game that the Patriots defense was utilizing Dick LeBeau's blitzes. Didn't the O-line practice against it? Can you say lack of preparedness?
An offensive line that can control the line of scrimmage with a power running game, which, historically, is what the Steelers are accustomed to employing, will make the defense more effective by keeping them on the sidelines. Just look at what the Seahawks did in the Super Bowl against Manning. The defense isn't getting any younger and in a league of no-huddle offense and pass happiness, it is crucial to own the time of possession. Hey, maybe the Steelers can return to the glory days under Russ Grimm. The former "Hog"coached like he was still playing on the line.
Munchak should be a great addition to a young, but talented, offensive line, which should only get better, especially if they can add a veteran free agent or pluck one off the draft board. It doesn't hurt that he has head coaching experience and improved a sub-par offensive line last season in Tennessee and almost took the Titans to the playoffs.