Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Steelers Fire Unnecessary Scapegoat in Form of Jack Bicknell, Jr.


In my humble opinion, Jack Bicknell, Jr. received a raw deal from the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Make no mistake, Pittsburgh’s offensive line was a far from outstanding unit during Bicknell, Jr.’s first and only season with the franchise. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 43 times, the ground attack ranked tied for 27th in league in rushing yards and the Steelers offense finished 29th in yards per carry.

Yet the fact that Bicknell, Jr. was fired after only one season with the team is simply short-sighted and ridiculous.

Remember, Bicknell, Jr. inherited one of the league’s youngest offensive lines when he was hired by the Steelers. Ramon Foster was the oldest starting member at 27, and he had yet to play an entire professional season at the left guard spot. Right guard David DeCastro only had three career starts under his belt, Mike Adams had not started a professional game at left tackle and Marcus Gilbert was injured for much of the 2011 campaign.

Disaster then struck on the opening weekend of the regular season when All-Pro center Maurkice Pouncey was lost for the year after less than a quarter of play. Due to injuries, Bicknell, Jr. had to use a total of four centers throughout the 2013 regular season in the forms of Pouncey, Kelvin Beachum, Fernando Velasco and Cody Wallace! Heck, Bicknell, Jr. was forced to put veteran tackle Guy Whimper in his starting lineup at guard on multiple occasions!

As much as the unit struggled during the early stages of the 2013 campaign, the offensive line played better down the stretch. Roethlisberger was better protected, and Le’Veon Bell had much more room to run during the Steelers’ 6-2 finish to the regular season. Bicknell, Jr. did the best with what he had at his disposal, and the fact that he was axed after only one season on the job is a complete and utter joke.

Why the team threw Bicknell, Jr. under the bus over other coaches on this staff who have become beacons of mediocrity in recent seasons is a joke. Sadly, I guess that Pittsburgh’s brass felt like their former offensive line coach could be an easy scapegoat for their second consecutive postseason-less season. To them it apparently makes more sense than making tough moves and holding actual people accountable for their actions over more than a one year period.





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Tags: Jack Bicknell Jr. Offensive Line Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Bill Hrovat

    Wow! Appeared like the o-line had arrow starting to point up. Bicknell’s coaching had something to do with the upswing. Scary stuff seems to be going on with our steelers.

    • William Cross

      “Scary”? Hmm, I guess you’re just easily frightened, a football coach lost his job, it happens hundreds of times a year, I’m not scared.

      • Craig

        I think our friend Bill is referring to the fact that the O-line had the largest improvement from any unit over the season and yet the coach got axed. That kind of logic is unsettling, or in Bill’s case ‘scary.’ I agree with Bill that all is not well on the inside of this organization.

        Yes coaches get fired every year – but usually for logical reasons.

  • Carl Eagan

    Your right although Tomlin and his leaker’s to the post gazette claims that for the second half of the season Bicknell, Jr. wasn’t that involved in the coaching and the quality control guy who had no O-line coaching experience was doing it. I believe that as much as I believe that Tomlin is an excellent NFL caliber head coach.

    • Thumper833

      Maybe the Steelers have decided to scrap the zone blocking scheme altogether. Which means that Bicknell is no longer needed. That is probably more of a factor than the play of the offensive line, which was pretty good the last half of the season…

  • whipmeco

    Seems like the questionable coaching continues into the off-season as well.

  • Jeff Johnson

    You feel its unnecessary but obviously Tomlin felt it was and he knows better than you and the organization does also

    • Dom DiTolla

      It is unnecessary, firing Bicknell, Jr. will not fix all of their offensive problems. He deserved at least one more year to turn things around. I will say that Tomlin and the organization know plenty about mediocrity and scapegoating coaches though.

      • Nine

        How do you know he deserved another year? You weren’t at practice.

        • Dom DiTolla

          Then tell me why Haley, Tomlin and LeBeau get more shots to prove themselves after going 16-16 the last two seasons?

          The losses of Pouncey, the use of four centers, the fact that Beachum had to play left tackle, the use of Guy Whimper and Cody Wallace and the O-Line playing better down the stretch should have bought him another year to improve.

          Total scapegoat firing to save the jobs of any of the higher-ups.

  • lkw

    Remember last off season? All we heard about was the new zone blocking scheme, well apparently that lasted one play into the regular season, surprised they kept him past week 4. Guess they just stripped him of any power instead. How could anyone possibly be upset about this move is beyond me.

    • Dom DiTolla

      I and others are upset that his leash was so short considering the amounts of injuries his unit sustained, while other coaches on this staff seem to get free passes every season. Guy deserved at least a chance for a second year.

      • lkw

        He was brought in for his scheme which the players were never prepared to use, cya. It doesn’t take 2 yrs to teach a run blocking scheme. You can look back and say it was a bad choice to hire him in the first place, but how can you be upset about cutting the dead weight now. Apparently he was barely even doing anything the last half of the year

        • Dom DiTolla

          Well if he’s disciplined, then why do underachievers like Haley, LeBeau, etc. get to stay?

  • Rick Aucoin

    When Tomlin ran our punter out of town because, you know, the punter was the problem, you knew there’d be coaching staff firings like this at the end of the season. Fire anyone except the ones that actually have sway in the organization, those who have power in the office. Scapegoat is exactly the right word.
    If you ask me our o-line coach did a spectacular job and once Velasco started fitting in (post-bye week) our team looked 100% better.

  • Michael Mosgrove

    they fired bicknell but not haley. shows idiocy right there. ben’s doing all the work. haley takes the credit for doing nothing. pitiful.

  • Rikki Giaro

    Maybe someone needs to be reminded it was Bicknell who tryed to install that zone blocking scheme. He was directly at fault for Pouncey being lost for the season, teaching the line to dive at opponents knees. The Steelers have screamed about this tactic for years, he tryed to install it in Pittsburgh and Pouncey paid for it. I’m glad to see him go and I hope the league is finally smart enough to eliminate cut blocks on linemen.

    • bonairsfavoriteson

      Short memory friend , he was hired specifically to install the zone blocking scheme, Tomlin even praised his work in k.c. and how effective k. c. was using it against the steelers when Bicknell was the k.c. offensive line coach, if Bicknell is shouldering the blame for the ol woes, how does lebeau and some of his assistants escape blame for the lousy defense ever since the disaster in the denver, tebow game. Who ever said there are no sacred cows in the nfl has not been paying attention to the Steelers.

      • Rikki Giaro

        There is nothing wrong with my memory , I hate the attitude that my rival does it , so why can’t I. Tomlin thought it was a good idea , untill he found out how dangerous it really is, and that would be after Pouncey went down. How do you compair a loss in Denver to intentionally adding something dangerous to the offense? You are missing the most important part of my post. Do you feel it is fine to dive at a guys knees, one who most times engaged with a defender ?

  • Kyle

    You must be related to Bicknell to be so sure about how great he is. Perhaps, just perhaps, the people who work with him everyday know a thing or two about the situation.