The Steelers have lost another assistant coach to bigger and better things. WR Coach Scottie Montgomery has left the team to become the offensive coordinator for the Duke Blue Devils. This comes on the heals of the Steelers losing Sean Kugler, the offensive line coach, to the head coaching job at UTEP. That slot was quickly filled by Jack Bicknell Jr. How long it will take the team to find a new receivers coach is unclear.
Montgomery wasn’t with the Steelers for very long. He was the receivers coach for Duke until 2010 when the Steelers hired him on. Montgomery seemed to have an immediate impact as he quickly groomed a young receiving core that had obvious raw talent. Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders had good rookie seasons, and Antonio Brown found himself high on the depth charts in 2011. He was the first receiver to record over 1,000 yards receiving and over 1,000 yards in punt/kick returns in the same season. It was obvious that he was becoming a fast learner of routes, and was consistent in finding holes in zone defenses. Emmanuel Sanders appeared to have the same kind of talent Brown did, but a few nagging injuries kept him limited in 2010 and 2011. However, in 2012, Sanders racked up over 600 yards in receiving and would have been a continued target for Big Ben (if it weren’t for those damn hands sometimes).
One could argue that Sanders and Brown brought that success all on their own. And even if that was true, you can’t deny that Montgomery did a pretty good job keeping the young guys productive and continued their development. There is the sore spot of one young Mike Wallace. Wallace had very good and solid three seasons. There was the problem of being hot hot hot in the first half of the season, then disappearing almost altogether in 2011. That put his ‘big money’ demand into skepticism, and landed him in hot water with the team and fans when he decided to hold out in camp in 2012. I don’t really think any of that is/was Montgomery’s fault, and is more of a case of a young receiver with a bad agent whispering in his ear.
Montgomery should have success while at Duke, and we at NPC wish him nothing but the best. The Blue Devils had their first Bowl appearance in 2012 since 1995. David Cutcliffe is doing good things with that program, and I expect that Montgomery will only add to that success.
Now the question becomes – Will the absence of Montgomery hurt the Steelers? I think it depends on the coach they get. Like I stated earlier, if Montgomery wasn’t directly responsible for the success of the receivers, he at least did a fine job of keeping them from falling apart. The Steelers will need to find another coach who works well with then young players. Brown and Sanders are still young, and there are some others like David Gilreath who have potential.