Munchak to coach Steelers' O-line
Mike Munchak has been hired as the Pittsburgh Steelers' offensive line coach, the team announced Thursday.
The Hall of Fame offensive lineman was fired as coach of the Tennessee Titans earlier this month, after compiling a three-season mark of 22-26 and not taking the team to the playoffs. Before leading the Titans, he was their offensive line coach for 14 years.
BrownThe Steelers made their biggest acquisition of the offseason by hiring Mike Munchak to be their offensive line coach, Scott Brown writes. Analysis
The Steelers were Mike Munchak's No. 1 rivals during his playing days for the Oilers. Now, he's joining them as a coach, writes Paul Kuharsky. Blog
Munchak and the Steelers met last Friday about the position, which was left open when coach Mike Tomlin fired Jack Bicknell Jr. after just one season.
"I am excited that Mike will be joining our staff at the Pittsburgh Steelers," coach Mike Tomlin said. "Mike's offensive line background speaks for itself, both as a Hall of Fame player for the Houston Oilers and as a very successful coach with the Tennessee Titans. I look forward to having him join our coaching staff as we have already started preparing for the 2014 season."
Munchak's name has been mentioned with several head-coaching vacancies since the regular season ended, including the still-open Cleveland Browns position and the since-filled spots with the Detroit Lions and Penn State.
Munchak grew up in Scranton, Pa., rooting for the "Super Steelers" of the 1970s. Now the Hall of Fame guard finds himself in charge of a unit that has struggled to stay healthy or play with any consistency in recent years.
The Steelers went 8-8 in 2013, rallying from a 2-6 start to avoid the franchise's first losing record in a decade. Pittsburgh did it despite losing star center Maurkice Pouncey eight plays into the season -- against the Titans -- for the season with a major knee injury.
It kick-started a fitful fall that saw the Steelers use four centers and forced Bicknell to play mix-and-match with the other line positions depending on who was healthy.
The constant shuffling, combined with significant step backs in play by second-year left tackle Mike Adams and third-year right tackle Marcus Gilbert, stunted the growth of Pittsburgh's offense. The Steelers ranked 27th in the league in yards rushing (1,383) and 29th in yards per attempt (3.5).
Mike Munchak will attempt to right a Steelers offensive line that watched Ben Roethlisberger get sacked 42 times this past season.
While running back Le'Veon Bell set a team record for yards from scrimmage by a rookie, he averaged just 3.5 yards per carry and spent most of his time mincing his steps at the line of scrimmage waiting for holes that sometimes failed to open.
The line struggled to protect quarterback Ben Roethlisberger early in the season, giving up 36 sacks through the first nine games. Those numbers dipped significantly later in the season (42 total sacks on year), a combination of improved play and Pittsburgh's move to a no-huddle offense.
Munchak, who made nine Pro Bowls during his 12-year career with the Houston Oilers from 1982-93, was considered one of the best line coaches in the NFL before ascending to head coach in 2011.
He will be the fourth offensive line coach the Steelers have had since Tomlin took over in 2007.