The Pittsburgh Steelers now have three former head coaches working under head coach Mike Tomlin – Todd Haley, Dick LeBeau, and now former Titans head coach Mike Munchak. I can’t shake the feeling that this could be a recipe for disaster. As I stated on Twitter when word first came out that the Steelers were speaking with Munchak, there’s too many donkeys in one room making decisions. We all know that Haley and LeBeau are as stubborn as those long and grey eared animals. Munchak is just as stubborn – refusing to change his coaching staff when ownership insisted otherwise that led to Mikey’s ousting is evidence enough of that. However, Munchak just might be what the Steelers need, and the hire could work out. And, if I were Todd Haley, I’d be sweating.
The Steelers offensive line was dismal in 2013 for the majority of the season – a trend that the Steelers want to break as soon as possible. Especially injuries and inconsistent blocking. Whether you think he became the scapegoat or not, former OL coach Jack Bickenll Jr. got the boot, and the Steelers wasted no time in going after a replacement. The Steelers interviewed and quickly signed Munchak on Thursday who became Mike Tomlin’s FOURTH line coach during Tomlin’s seven year tenure. Munchak spent 12 years as a guard for the Houston Oilers. He became part of the 2001 HOF class (the same as Lynn Swan) and moved on to coaching the Titans offensive line for 14 seasons before head coaching the Titans for three mediocre seasons. He’s known for his zone blocking scheme – a scheme the Steelers wanted to do with Bicknell, but quickly jettisoned after the first game of the season. Munchak was considered one of the best line coaches before his ascension to head coach.
Munchak is a Pittsburgh native, and the Rooney’s continue their long standing tradition of hiring local boys to carry the coaching load. It might be to a fault, but it’s part of the Rooney way. It’s curious that Munchak took an assistant coaching position so quickly after being the head honcho in Tennessee, especially when teams like the Detroit Lions were interested in hiring him on their next head coach. Head coach down to line coach is quite a drop in rank…. and pay. Could it be that extra incentives were put in place as a carrot for Munchak? A coordinator position in waiting perhaps?
It’s no secret that Todd Haley has been one frustrating bugger since he joined the team as the OC two seasons ago. Two 8-8 seasons and a very mediocre offense that leaves little to the imagination and struggles to crack past the goal line when they get into the Red Zone has many in Steeler Nation pulling their hair and tossing empty Iron City cans at their TV every Sunday. The offense ‘improved’ during near the last third of the season, mainly due to the offensive line (which somehow constituted into Bicknell’s release), so it appears as if Haley’s lease on the job has been extended for at least one more season.
One has to think, though, that Munchak looms in the background waiting for any major slip up by Haley. Rooney felt better about the state of the offense as the season closed, but that doesn’t mean the leash hasn’t shortened on Haley – especially now that they have a competent coach like Munchak a few feet away on the sidelines.
So is Mike Munchak the new heir apparent to the OC job (which means the Steelers have no carrot from keeping Kirby Wilson leaving for the Ravens)? Is he a threat to Haley’s job security? It may not have been a conscious thought by Tomlin, but one has to think that Haley will need to find a way to make the entirety of this offense click and improve greatly in its output.