The Pittsburgh Steelers hired Richard Mann to be their new wide receivers coach back in mid February, and on Monday, we finally got our first quotes from the long-time NFL assistant since his hiring was announced.
Mann, who has long been regarded as a coach who focuses on technique, reiterated that recently in his interview with Bob Labriola on steelers.com.
"I’ve been coaching a long time, and I’m a fundamental technique guy," Mann said, when asked to explain what he is all about. "If I’m teaching something, I have a lot of tape from over the years of different guys doing the same thing so I know it works. The bottom line is if the player has good fundamental technique, along with his athletic ability, he can be a productive player."
While ever coach should be one that teaches good technique, Mann really sounds like he stresses it with tape visuals. As far as the need for his receivers to be good blockers, Mann lets it be known that will be required of his group in addition.
"If he’s not getting the ball, he’s staying busy in the other aspect of the game, which is blocking. We do it all – we block and we catch," said the Aliquippa native. "That’s part of what I’ve always preached, that we are not just good receivers but we’re also good blockers. Pittsburgh has been famous over the years, and I can tell you that I grew up as a Pittsburgh fan deep down inside and I always have been, but over the years Pittsburgh is famous for running the football. If you’re going to be a good running football team, then your wideouts have to block the perimeter. It doesn’t have to be us knocking people out or knocking people down. What we have to do is be accountable and trustworthy and do what we’re supposed to do."
Emmanuel Sanders, assuming he is retained, should be a favorite of Mann\'s when it comes to blocking. Even Antonio Brown has improved in that area some since he was drafted. While the recently departed Mike Wallace was great at stretching the field with his speed, he was allergic to blocking, and you would have to think that a receiver that is drafted next month will have to at least have some blocking effort on tape, even if his technique is bad. As Mann stated, the receivers don\'t need to knock people down, but they at least have to be accountable in the blocking department.
So do the Steelers plan on adding one or two wide receivers during the draft? According to the comments made by Mann, it sounds like he is only expecting one.
"I think we have a good group, and hopefully we’ll add another one either through free agency or the draft," said Mann.
Quotes are all fine and good and Mann said exactly what you would expect him to say. The proof, however, will be in the end product, and we have a long time to wait until we get to see what effect he will have on the group.
Mann is much older than his predecessor Scottie Montgomery, who was regarded as a players\' coach. Perhaps that wasn\'t necessarily a good thing, but there is no denying that the 2011 season was a good one for the Steelers wide receivers. Perhaps the success that they all had in 2011 went to their heads in 2012, and if so, it will be up to Mann to get them back on that 2011 track, a track full of fundamental technique.
Talk, as they say, is cheap, but hopefully Mann is a man that can back it up.