Thursday, January 23, 2014

Mike Munchak an ideal fit for Steelers

By Scott Brown
January 22, 2014

PITTSBURGH -- The Steelers made what will probably go down as their most significant acquisition of the offseason Wednesday when Mike Munchak agreed to become their next offensive line coach. 

Yes, hiring Munchak is that big. 

No one on the planet knows the ins and outs of the NFL and playing offensive line like Munchak does. 

Think of the respect one of the greatest guards in NFL history will command from his new players. And his NFL resume merely starts with the 12 seasons he spent crafting a Hall of Fame career as a Houston Oiler. 

Munchak has more than two decades of coaching experience, and he impressed the Tennessee Titans’ brass enough in 14 seasons as the team’s offensive line coach that he rose to the head coaching job in 2011. 

Munchak might still be with the only NFL organization he worked for as a coach and a player had he agreed to make sweeping changes to his staff following a 7-9 season. 

That he ended up in Pittsburgh is a coup for the Steelers. 

The only downside to hiring Munchak: He is so highly regarded around the NFL that another head coaching opportunity could come his way in the coming years. 

Then again Munchak spent more than three decades with the same organization, so he can hardly be characterized as an opportunist who jumps from job to job. 

Munchak inherits an offensive line that is on the cusp of becoming pretty good if not really good provided it can ever stay healthy. He may be the coach to unlock underachieving offensive tackle Mike Adams’ considerable potential. 

And he becomes the point man in installing the outside zone-blocking scheme that the Steelers ditched last season after Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey went down in the opener with a torn ACL, a game that the Steelers lost to Munchak's Titans at Heinz Field. 

Munchak has tons of experience teaching the scheme, and it is something that will maximize Le’Veon Bell’s running ability. 

It’s hard to imagine the Steelers finding a better fit for the one opening -- at least for now -- on coach Mike Tomlin’s staff. 

And the Munchak hiring is a heck of a way for the Steelers to start an offseason that will bring its share of change.

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