The Steelers officially named Sean Kugler as the new offensive line coach on Thursday and instantly it sent shock waves through Steeler Nation. Kugler spent the last 2 seasons as the Bills offensive line coach before being let go at the end of the season. Kugler coached a Bills offensive line in 2009 that was ravished by injuries and saw 9 different starting line combinations during the season. Center Geoff Hangartner was the only lineman to play every game at the same spot and 4 linemen who started during the season finished on injured reserve. The Bills 2009 line had only 91 combined career starts total for the two guards, two tackles and center on the team with the most starts in the 2009 season. That number was the lowest in the NFL with the closest being 66 away. Despite the adversity, the Bills still managed to rush for 1867 yards, which was 16th best in the league and averaged 4.4 yards a carry for 8th best. The line only allowed a toal of of 37 rushes for negative yards which was 12th lowest in 2009. While the quarterback hits and sacks were high it is not surprising given the rash of injuries and quarterback shuffling that went on in Buffalo.
The biggest concern the Steelers will have with Kugler is the power rushing in which the Bills finished with a 55% first down conversion rate on ALL running plays on 3rd & 4th down with 2 or less yards to go. It should be noted that starting Bills running back Marshawn Lynch was also suspended for the first 3 games of the season and the Bills only had 22 opportunities all year at these situations. In 2008 the Bills had 28 such opportunities and converted 64% of them. Those numbers are still not great, but the 2008 Steelers team only had 29 such opportunities at a 66% conversion rate and yet won the Super Bowl.
While there is concern about the short track record that Kugler has as an offensive line coach in the NFL, he proved in 2009 that he can get the most out of unit that looked like a M.A.S.H. unit mixed with has beens and free agent scraps. Merely judging him on 2 years worth of stats does not tell the story. Kugler definitely will have a more experienced group of linemen in Pittsburgh and an organization that seems destined to want to run more. Kugler is also only 43 years old and may relate better to the current offensive line better than Larry Zierlein did. Also Kugler played tackle in college at Texas El-Paso as well.
2009 Offensive Line Stats
Exp = Combined career starts for the two guards, two tackles and center on team with the most starts in the current season.
Rush 1st = Rushing first downs.
Rush Neg = Rushes for negative yards.
Rush +10Y = Rushes for 10 or more yards.
2009 Offensive Line Power Rushing Stats
3rd & 4th Down with 2 or less yards to go
|TEAM||3rd RUSH||FD||FD%||4th RUSH||FD||FD%||TOT RUSH||TOT FD||TOT FD %|