Monday, January 27, 2014

Mike Munchak: A superb hiring

Icy rivers, but a warm reception
in Pittsburgh for Mike Munhcak
When the Tennessee Titans fired head coach Mike Munchak on Jan. 7th, it came as a surprise to 'most everybody. Munchak had middling success in Nashville, but the Hall of Fame offensive lineman is generally well-regarded and highly respected across the NFL.

His name came into play immediately as a job candidate for head coaching vacancies in Detroit and Cleveland, where he interviewed. Both franchises went with choices that must have left their fans underwhelmed: Jim Caldwell in Detroit and Mike Pettine, the former Bills and Jets defensive coordinator, in Cleveland.

When Munchak came available, some fans and bloggers in Pittsburgh immediately put forth his name as a potential offensive coordinator for the Steelers, never mind that Todd Haley already holds that job.

At the time, it seemed a stretch to think Munchak would actually agree to take on the lesser, more focused role of offensive line coach. Yet here he is: Munchak is now Pittsburgh's offensive line coach.

This can be only a good thing.  Before being promoted to head coach in Tennessee, Mike Munchak had exceptional success coaching the Titan's offensive line.

Some people have wondered aloud whether adding another former head coach to the staff, the team's third, would potentially have Mike Tomlin looking over his shoulder. That's not going to happen.

We'll be more interested to see how the relationship between Haley and Munchak unfolds, and to what extent they stay on the same page.

One thing for sure: Munchak is the most accomplished offensive line coach the Steelers have had in years, maybe ever. His presence can only help the woeful running game and pass protection schemes. How much he will help to develop some of the players remains to be seen, but that is up to them more so than him. If Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams don't have the commitment or the talent to be effective offensive tackles in the NFL, this will be the year decisions on them will be made.

One other thing: Hopefully, Munchak will help the Steelers be better prepared to open the season than they have in recent years. His Titans beat the Steelers at Heinz Field to open the 2013 season. His team was ready to play and, clearly, the Steelers weren't anywhere near ready to play -- until nearly mid-October.

That's mainly on the head coach, however, and for now, all Munchak really has to do is improve the offensive line. It's a good bet he will.

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