Steelers Should Consider Hiring Hal Hunter Jr. As Their Next Offensive Line Coach

The Pittsburgh Steelers have yet to hire an offensive line coach to replace the outgoing Sean Kugler, who left to take the head coaching job at UTEP, and it is assumed that head coach Mike Tomlin, general manager Kevin Colbert and offensive coordinator Todd Haley are hard at work at narrowing down the candidates for the job.

Should the Steelers decide to add more elements of the stretch zone to their blocking scheme in 2013 they should consider Hal Hunter Jr., who was let go by the San Diego Chargers just recently, as a potential candidate.

Hunter Jr. has ties to the Steelers organization as his father, Hall Hunter Sr., was once an assistant coach for the Steelers from 1985-88. Hunter Jr. was born in Canonsburg, Pennsylvania and was also once the offensive line coach at the University of Pittsburgh from 1983–84 in addition.

Hunter Jr. also has something in common with Tomlin as well as he  was once the outside linebackers and strength coach at William and Mary, the alma mater of Tomlin.

Heading into the 2012 season Hunter Jr. was in charge of a Chargers offensive line that had allowed the NFL’s fifth-lowest sack total (171), while averaging 1,907 rushing yards per season and scoring 115 touchdowns on the ground since his hiring. That all took a turn for the worse this past season as the Chargers offensive line was decimated by injuries, late in the season specifically, and it resulted in quarterback Philip Rivers being sacked a career high 49 times in total.

Hunter is able to coach both the man/power and zone/stretch blocking schemes which would be an asset for the Steelers young athletic offensive line, should the team decide to go in that direction.

At the time of this post there have been no names linked by the Pittsburgh media as serious candidates for the vacant position. It was reported, however, by Brian Baldinger of the NFL Network that former Philadelphia Eagles defensive coordinator Juan Castillo had interest from the Steelers for the job. Castillo, however, has since been hired as a run-game coordinator by the Baltimore Ravens.

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Cols714

    I’m glad Kugler is gone. He didn’t do much to make the line better than the former coach did. Time to get a new guy.

  • JohnnyV1

    I’m glad you wrote about this Dave. Maybe Mike Tomlin will see it and the light will come on and say “I knew there was something I was supposed to be doing”. Seriously, why not wait until all the great candidates are taken, and you have to settle for some like a Kugler. Kugler didn’t appear horrible, but he was coming from Buffalo, which is one of the worst teams in the league. He must have come cheap. The Steelers have several high draft picks that are 1st, 2nd or 3rd year players, so yeah, let’s hire the next cheap guy to mold these kids, and get our franchise QB injured.

  • zyzak

    I agree, at least he didn’t forward x rated emails to the NFL. Hunter would be someone that Tomlin should hire. Of course he will pick someone that has been fired from his previous job

  • John Phillips

    49 sacks, that would be one of Ben’s best years. Sign him up.

  • ox-burgh

    The Steelers need to hire with passion. Tom Rathman would be a good O-Line coach. He has pounded a very impressive running game in San Franciso. Burton Burns would be another interesting look at O-Line coach. He has led a very physical style play O-line at Alabama, while developing Michael Williams into a solid blocking tight end( which happens to be my 6th round draft pick). Lacy’s big play resulted from this stout line also. We also need to hire a strengh and conditioning coach and I don’t think their is no one better than James Dobson from Neb. Nebraska led the NCAA in all around healthy football players for the last couple of years.

  • Bob Loblaw

    Would love to see whoever they bring in perhaps implement a zone blocking scheme to some extent. We’ve certainly got linemen athletic and young enough for the job, and might just provide the boost to our run game that we need.

    If you take a look at the rushing leaders in the NFL, a lot are running behind lines that are using some sort of zone blocking scheme.

  • grw1960

    Tunch Ilkin, Tunch , Tunch

  • Maurice_hill_district

    So that line coach did a poor job when injuries hit SD’s oline, that doesnt bode well for helping Steelers then. That means this is not a team he shuld go to.

  • Henry

    Zierlein sent X rated emails to the NFL? Lolz

  • Garrett Hunt

    I like Kugler, but at the same time think our line can benefit from a fresh face. If our line was the strength of our team, I don’t know who would stop us.

  • steeltown

    I agree. There’s alot of talk about Kugler being a bad coach, but I think he did very well with what unfolded. Multiple season ending injuries year after year, multiple OL combinations often on a weekly basis, we had undrafted players starting games over the last few years.. he did well with what was given. The ONE thing that irked me was him bringing Jonathan Scott with him from Buffalo, terrible player.

    But, all that said I do think a fresh perspective, especially now with so many young prospects, will be good for the OL

  • steeltown

    Good point… that was one of the things that Kugler excelled at, plugging in players and changing OL combinations

  • steeltown

    I wouldnt be against hiring someone with experience in zone blocking, could be a real asset.

  • Conreezy

    Craig Urbik… Someone wanna tell me what he did to get cut in his rookie year? Seems to have done well in Buffalo. That one always bothered me.

  • steeltown

    sarcasm right?

    Ben was sacked that many times only once in his career, that was ’09, consequently Kugler was brought in the following year

  • steeltown

    YES!! Me too man, me too

    We had Essex, Kemoeatu and Foster on the depth chart at the time, that means they saw more in Essex and Kemoeatu than they did in Urbik…. ouch

  • John H

    Russ Grimm?????

  • Jollyrob68

    He didn’t have the confidence. He was better than Foster but wasn’t confident in himself plus they like Legurski

  • joed32

    Wasn’t Hunter just fired?