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Steelers Fire Offensive Line Coach Jack Bicknell Jr. After One Season


Some big news today as the Pittsburgh Steelers have announced that offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. has been fired after just one season.

Bicknell was hired last offseason to replace Sean Kugler, who left to become the head coach of his alma mater Texas-El Paso.

The Steelers offensive line was snake bitten right from the start last season as center Maurkice Pouncey was lost for year with a knee injury suffered in the season opener against the Tennessee Titans. Due to injuries on the offensive line and poor play by left tackle Mike Adams, the Steelers were forced to use seven different starting combinations over the course of the season.

Bicknell spent most of the offseason working on implementing the outside zone blocking scheme, but after losing Pouncey in the opener, it was barely used at all the remainder of the year.

Head coach Mike Tomlin released a short statement explaining Bicknell's departure:

“I have decided to go in a different direction with respect to the coaching of our offensive line. I want to thank Jack for his contributions during the 2013 season, and I wish him well in the future.”

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About Dave Bryan

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

    Woooah! Damn

  • Josh

    whaaaaaaaat?

  • Lamarr56

    Wow, I’m very supposed by this move. I thought the Oline improved greatly in the enjoy the season. Disappointed in this move

  • Lucus Rodriguez

    I personally thought the line over achieved. Don’t like the move

  • RASTA

    Is zone blocking what hurt Pouncey? If not, the only reason we didn’t use it much was because our RB that we drafted to take advantage of it didn’t start playing at the beginning of the season. I wonder who MT has in mind?

  • chris ward

    Wow surpised by this move. 3 different O-line coaches in 3 seasons now with Kugler, Bicknell, and TBD.

  • MoSteel79

    This was my initial response as well but maybe Tomlin felt like it took Bicknell too long to adjust to the loss of Pouncey/didn’t like that he completely abandoned the zone blocking after he went down?

  • steeltown

    Ben was still sacked like 42times, which is the most since the career high 2009 season (50) …that has to be a reason why

  • Josh

    But didn’t protection get better towards the end & against good pass rushing teams (Lions, Dolphins)? Maybe they have someone specific in mind they want to bring in…

  • r8erh8er

    Wouldn’t be surprised if tthis was a result of something more than performance based. I thought he over performed with what he had.

  • David Edward

    Yeah, a bit surprised by this one. Early in the year, I would’ve said there was a good chance this would happen. Many of the OL exhibited poor technique which falls on the coach. However, I thought there was some improvement as the season went on. I think part of the reason, though, was that…poor techique…especially from the OTs.

  • steeltown

    Definitely..the last 6-7 games the OLine really gelled and played very well, but think about it this way if Ben was only sacked 7times in the last 7games, that’s 35sacks allowed in the first 9games..Ben being Ben or not that’s pretty awful

  • srdan

    Hmmm. There goes my theory on adams having consistency for one freaking offseason. I guess in a way he still will.

    3 years, 3 coaches with a young oline.

    Maybe someone is avaialble that htey really want. But that is usually not our style.

  • lefnor

    C’mon man! From the talent level of this season ending OL you can not do a better job than Bicknell.
    Tomlin should fire himself.

  • srdan

    I’m not sure how much input tomlin has on his staff. He certainly has no input on LeBeau, and I dont think he brought in Haley, lol.

    I would think he has more input if not control with the position coaches.

  • srdan

    Oh here we go again.

  • Lamarr56

    I was really looking forward to the zone-blocking scheme next year. I know they scrapped it this year after Pouncey was hurt. I was hoping he would come back healthy and the zone blocking would start.

  • T R

    Hey the Run is more important here. and they stunk in the Run game… yal argue that OL gelled in last few games and Ben didnt get sack.. It wasnt because of the OL particularly.. Ben was still scrabbling after a few seconds. If it wasnt for the Ben/Haley quick pass and no huddle. trust me OL would have allow a whole lot more sacks and yal would have been jumping up and down for this firing.

    I aint losing no sleep on this firing.. :) get us some 100 yard rd games.

  • T R

    you still might get some. just not with him as the OL coach..

  • steeltown

    35sacks in the first 9games is A LOT of sacks

  • Callentown

    Agreed T R. This line is the reason they had to use all of those quick screen/pass plays in the first place. Not sure if that’s talent or on the O-line coach, but apparently Coach T feels it’s the latter.

  • lefnor

    That’s talent.

  • lefnor

    Yes, another dumb move from the HC, who btw can’t draft good OTs.

  • Luke Shabro

    I’m not sure how I feel about this. Ben was hit a lot but it seems the offensive line improved a lot down the stretch. I was disappointed with the lack of ZBS “flexibility” we were promised but I’m not sure if that was due to Jack, Haley, Tomlin, injuries or just all of the above. Although the lack of push in the run game was concerning. On the flip side, the coach can’t necessarily dictate the talent he has available although some good coaches get more out of average players. I’m just really torn but it doesn’t really matter. Colbert, Tomlin and the Rooneys decided to make a change. I just hope they bring in someone good.

  • Luke Shabro

    The fire Tomlin crew are geniuses. I saw one of them say that we should bring in Dom Capers to head coach. One of the worst defenses in the NFL and an awful record as the head coach of the Texans? Sounds like a win to me!!

  • srdan

    If you ask me this has Arts fingerprints all over it.

    Think back 3 days and tomlins comments on Beachum. “he has positioned himself well”. Beachum grew leaps throughout this year, a lot of that has to be accredited to Bicknell. Tomlin would have already known that he was pulling the trigger on this and would have probably left that comment alone. Who didn’t really grow? The other young tackles. This to me seems like it was a decision made by the whole team to find a better fit for their investments. A new Oline coach and all 3 tackles compete again, but they will bring someone in to coach more the 2nd round picks. Just my thoughts.

    But i do like conspiracy theories….lol

  • Bill Molinaro

    There’s no getting around that the offensive line improved late in the season both in the run game and passing game. This accomplished using back up talent at 3 of the 5 positions and constant shuffling as the back ups also got injured. Do not understand this coaching move; must be more than meets the eye!
    I notice a lot writers on this site seem to blame Haley for the lackluster offensive performance; Before Haley, Arians was blamed. Perhaps we need to look elsewhere, maybe at some of the skill position players.

  • SteelersDepot

    Can you point me to where “a lot of writers on this site seem to blame Haley for the lackluster offensive performance”? Thanks.

  • dgh57

    Big Ben was on pace by mid season to be sacked over 60 times and not much in the way of run production will get a OL coach fired everytime. Granted the OL improved their play in the 2nd half but that may be more because of the no huddle offense. So in the end fingers will most always point to the OL coach first. Had I had to select which coach would be fired first it would be Bicknell.

  • steeltown

    Defense was the issue this year, not offense..particularly against the run

  • SteelersDepot

    Also, can you point me to where Arians was blamed by me?

  • srdan

    By hurt Puncey, do you mean in a zone blocking scheme that there is a lot more cutting? There are plenty of teams running the zone scheme and their centers getting more than 15 plays a year lol.

  • Dale

    Maybe the explanation is just that we’ve given up on having the personnel to run the kind of scheme this guy specializes in, but it’s hard to say that he did a bad job given that he seldom (never?) had the same group of starters two games in a row.

  • Bradys_Dad

    and I’d be willing to bet that he brings in someone more akin to himself (Tomlin that is).

  • steeltown

    Exactly

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    How can you fire a coach whose was actually the best coach we had this year with all the injuries i think he got the ol turn things around i can’t name another positions coach on our team that did better

  • srdan

    I remember week 2-3 us talking about the oline and not having one postiive thing to say. We may have forgotten that with the way they finished, but I don’t htink the FO did.

    A lot of our early season woes were also because we had no TE’s. To no fault of Bicknell.

    I did question with the way Wallace played at the end of the season, why did we panic and get velasco? Wallace was on the team at the time, correct?

  • AndyR34

    Dave – I think he meant commenters, not writers…but that is just how I took his comment.

  • srdan

    Yup, just like were running a Tampa 2 defense

  • SumnerYoung

    I heard that Bicknell got caught taking a dump in Tomlin’s closet. That’s what Ian Rapoport was reporting.

  • srdan

    He messed up the name, that was Haley.

  • Callentown

    Wait, what was that?? Got a link?

  • r4kolb

    Tomlin just trying to justify his OWN incompetency! But you all know how I feel about him. Maybe Bicknell was the one who thought Adams was the answer at LT as Ben was being killed for the first 5 games. Heck maybe it was Bicknell who thought Hood should start over Cam too. Bicknell must have made the call to keep Redman and cut Dwyer even though Redman didn’t play in the preseason and Dwyer did. Ah he’s just the Head Coach it’s not his fault. Right Luke? Jiz?

  • r4kolb

    I think he meant posters Dave. Not you or Matthew and the gang. Incompetents like me.

  • r4kolb

    See above Dave. Calm down. Though I would like you to eventually give your opinion on Tomlin up to this point and the job he does as a coach. I can’t fight this battle on my own.

  • dgh57

    Wallace was signed just before the season started to replace OG/C Mike Molecki(bad spelling) because they thought Wallace was more a pure Center. Wallace was a journeyman OL who never started a game in 6 years in the League. When Pouncey went down they signed Velasko because he played all 16 games last year for the Titans and thought he was the better option.

  • r4kolb

    It’s Bicknell’s fault.

  • r4kolb

    I’d like to take a dump in Tomlin’s mouth. Oh wait, he’s always talking sh*t anyway. LOL

  • r4kolb

    That was Bicknell’s fault Tomlin said.

  • sean mcmartin

    Someone had to be the fall guy. Colbert and Tomlin need to feel the pressure of not getting the job done. Not granted Immunity for tradition’s sake.
    I mean what if they are holding the team back with Tomlins inability to motivate a team and manage a clock, stay on the sideline during games, etc..
    Why shouldn’t they replace him with a better student of the game? Improve?
    A coach that knows and understands the game and has input to add during the game and can make adjustments before they lose 4 games in a row and lose the season again. Make no mistake , Tomlin wanted to keep Arians for a reason.
    He does not know how to put together an offensive gameplan , He is a manger at a business. A corporate tool. Good for PR or marketing.

  • Rob H

    I just read a brief article where Dulac say’s that he had a lot of his coaching responsibility taken away from him early in the season. So if that’s true, then they realized they a made a mistake when they hired him in the first place, and spent the rest of the season doing damage control.

  • r4kolb

    As opposed to the keep Tomlin crew who think he’s doing a great job? 8-8 2 years in a row with a cake schedule we had this year? Losing to the 4-10 Raiders 2 years in a row? On and on I could go Luke but I can’t because I’m a Genius and you’re an idiot.

  • WilliamSekinger

    That certainly sounds better that all the alternative theories out their regarding what happened. If that report is true at least they are in the process of getting it fixed instead of ignoring it.

  • r4kolb

    Wow. Now you my friend are a voice of reason. A kindred spirit. Thank you.

  • r4kolb

    By the way he’s not a corporate tool he’s a “Rooney Rule Tool”

  • r4kolb

    See it’s not just me!

  • r4kolb

    I think you know who my choice would be……

  • Rob H

    Yea, it certainly makes a lot more sense than a lot of the posts I just read. I have to admit though, these knee-jerk reactions people have on message bards has been a good source of amusement for me all season long. I shudder to think what would happen to this team if the things they call for actually happened.

  • WilliamSekinger

    Amen & +1 to that! Everyone suddenly becomes an expert during these times.

  • srdan

    No, just a source close to the team. Lmaooooo

  • tristan

    you are such a tool

  • Jollyrob68

    The always seem to lose to the Raiders regardless of record. SMH

  • Jollyrob68

    Who knows maybe Coach Munchack might be available.

  • Jeff

    It seemed to be a result of both improved line play but also Ben excelling in the no huddle….. I’m ok with the move…. he was brought in to add more of a zone blocking scheme, and it really didn’t take off…. The run game was a problem for the majority of the year as well

  • r4kolb

    He’s going to be Penn States next coach.

  • Intropy

    This is complete speculation, so take it as such. This firing is pretty quick, and as other posters have stated the offensive line got off to a really bad start and improved greatly down the stretch. We don’t get to see how a lot of the internal coaching happens.

    Is it possible that Bicknell performed so badly to begin the season that some other assistant was given more responsibility and guided the turn around? If that happened I could definitely see the Steelers just keeping the status of the coaches through the season and then making the change official in the offseason.

  • r4kolb

    If I were I’d be a sledge hammer.

  • r4kolb

    If what you say is true then I would think that the “other assistant” should now be given that position not?

  • joed32

    The newer article pretty much explains it.

  • Callentown

    Actually, he’s a defensive coach. So, ideally, he would hire an excellent OC and trust that person to do their job well.

    Same goes for an Offensive Head Coach, who would not attempt to put in the Defensive game plan.

    Just sayin..

  • RMSteeler

    All most people talked about after Bicknell was hired was the ZBS would be the salvation of the Steeler’s run problems. If losing Pouncey a few minutes into the first game meant throwing out the scheme they spent the whole offseason and pre-season trying to institute, then yeah, it’s a coaching problem. But, not just Bicknell’s. HC and OC have some share of the blame for the first half ot the season. If the no huddle (likely at Ben’s insistence) had not been put in, the Steelers likely would have been picking much higher in this year’s draft. Look at the Patriots pre season problems and early season injuries. Everyone had them written off. They just plugged some no name guys in to the openings and rolled much of the season. Hate to say it, but the personnel picking and coaching with the Pats, while usually good, has finally surpassed the Steelers the last two seasons.

  • Alan Felicia

    Yet, Roethlisberger was only sacked 7 times in the last 7 games. Perhaps, more no-huddle, short passes, and Roethlisberger getting rid of the ball quickly (only 4 INTS in the last 7 games and 2 came against Cleveland in Week 17).

  • Alan Felicia

    Remember, Kugler left for more greener pasture (head coaching job at UTEP). Other two (Zuerlien was the other) was fired.

  • JT

    You’re clearly a tool for cleaning a woman’s genital area.

  • Shea Fahr

    Power, Inside Zone and Outside Zone run game stunk. Some of it had to do with injuries but the rest evidently had to do with Bick…according to Tomlin. Right or Wrong, we all knew somebody was going to take the fall. Kirby should take notice because I have not been overly impressed with any other RB whose name is not Bell over the last several years. They do not make them like Dick Hoak anymore..

  • JT

    All off-season it was ZBS up at the ass when it came to the offensive line. Are you telling me that it hinged so completely on Pouncey that is disappeared almost completely? That’s poor coaching right there on Bick’s part. It’s not like Pouncey has never gone down before. Let’s not pretend like this team EVER ran the ball with authority. Bell shouldn’t have more yards after contact than before. And Haley should have more freedom in the play calling. We can move one.

  • Shea Fahr

    Did you read my post?? Just asking.

  • JT

    Yes. Not totally a response to you, I know. But there’s too many posts to scroll through. Hope you don’t mind the highjacking.

  • sean mcmartin

    Hi,
    I see the logic in your reply.
    And I have to say an offensive minded coach would be great for the Steelers. Tomlin would be great for team that doesn’t have a hall of famer Like Dick Labeau running the defense.

  • Shea Fahr

    LOL! yes I know, a few of us are a little passionately emotional right now. No worries. At least Dave provides a site for us to get it all out. I love it so keep it coming.

  • Shea Fahr

    I personally think Coach Z was given a choice because either way, he was leaving.

  • Jazz

    Hmm! Maybe the Rooney’s are more involved than we seem to think; I’m not quite sure anymore. I don’t think Tomlin has as much say as to whom he hires and whom he fires. It seems as though these decisions are coming from the Top. Yes, Tomlin addresses the media during the season, I’m starting to wonder if he is prepped to say exactly what the Rooney’s want him to say. I don’t know, just makes you wonder. During Tomlin’s final Press Conference, he delayed mentioning anything about his coaching changes. I guess he had to clear it with the Top. Truth be told, moving forward, I will no longer criticize the draft picks as Tomlin’s picks. I don’t think he ever had that much pull to begin with.

  • IronMike73

    Right what does Bicknell know anyway? He won two bowls with the Giants
    and then went on to coach the chiefs/jamaal charles to 1st in the league in rushing. I
    guess its Jack’s fault that Adams/Gilbert & Beachum have no
    strength, none of them are either a mauler/road grater in the run game
    nor fast enough with good footwork to provide good pass protection. Everyone thinks that
    Beachum played great, but leading the team in sacks allowed isn’t great
    by any means, he plays like a 7th rounder from a non college football power. Will somebody anybody for
    the love of God take a look at tomlin’s draft picks for the last 6
    years.

  • r4kolb

    Uh, no. I told you IF I were a tool I’d be a sledge hammer. You have to be careful or Dave will ban you. I may find that offensive and sue his site for allowing it. I may be feeling harassed. That being said at least if I were in fact the said tool at least it would used on a woman, unlike the tool you would be which is inserted in a mans poop shoot.

  • Bill Molinaro

    It appears the that I incorrectly used the term “writers” in this comment. I was not referring to the Steelers Depot writers but rather to those who comment on the articles.

  • JT

    You know if you put as much time and effort into actually analyzing the Steelers as you did being a troll, you might actually have something interesting to say.

  • r4kolb

    Mike as much as I dislike Tomlin’s ineptness I’m not sure how much influence he has on draft day. I would think Colbert is at fault there. So that being said now maybe those that think I hate Tomlin for any other reason then his lack of coaching skills, time management, game preparation, ability to adjust at halftime, lack of knowing his kickers field goal range, lack of knowing where he is standing as to pertaining to the field of play, not realizing Beachum was a better LT then Adams, Cam was better then Hood, Dwyer was better then Redman, not knowing you should never sign anyone named Zoltan, Etc, Etc. I have no problem with him.

  • r4kolb

    Uh, correct me if I’m wrong….you trolled me. Also if you want click on my tag and look at my posts. I don’t troll. Look at the facts I put in my posts. Do I like Tomlin no, but neither does a lot of other people. Do the Tomlin apologists drive me crazy yes. So remember I don’t troll and you started it buttmunch.

  • Bill Molinaro

    In the Big Ben years, the Steelers offense has never accomplished what it seemingly looks like they should. I don’t know why or who’s to blame. I realize the defense has deteriorated from what it was, but the offense has the tools to be more productive than it is. They should be an explosive, high scoring unit but they’re not and they weren’t under Arians either. With today’s NFL rules, teams with the weapons the Steelers are reported to have, should score more – period.

  • Bill Molinaro

    It appears the that I incorrectly used the term “writers” in this comment. I was not referring to the Steelers Depot writers but rather to those who comment on the articles. And in those comments there are many bullets aimed at Mr. Haley. Again, I apologize for the error.

  • IronMike73

    Tomlin: “Bruce Arians is retired”.

  • ahj_2000

    What?? Look at all the injuries they had!! What more could you ask from this man than he delivered???

  • Matt Searls

    Wtf??? He was probably the MVP of the coaches in my opinion.

  • Dwayne Ferguson

    This feels reactionary and seems a move by Tomlin to redirect attention to different parts of the coaching staff.
    If we are firing coaches because their players got off to a bad start Tomlin needs to go too.
    I did not see the need for change on the coaching staff– things started off bad but I felt the whole staff reacted and motivated their players to improve so I did not have a problem with all of them, Tomlin included, to have another shot next year.

    To me., Tomlin has set a precedent, if the team gets off to a bad and unprepared start next year- he has to go too.

  • Callentown

    Until next year when LeBeau retires ;)

    For my money, I like having a Defensive-minded head coach for the Steelers. But, I’m a defense-first kinda guy.

    Old school in that I still believe that a strong D and running game wins football. I know times are changing, but look who’s there at the end: Seattle, S.F. Carolina, K.C. – all teams with strong D and run.

    Peace sean..

  • SteelerCop

    He was a zone blocking guy…and they did none of that this past season…so he didn’t really do much for the team…they pretty much just did what they did last season…so Goodbye…your services are no longer needed…plus they didn’t look that good when they were using the zone blocking scheme! :-

  • Luke Shabro

    You’re right I’m the idiot. We should totally fire Tomlin and hire some retread has been and then fire him after a year or two so we can keep hitting the reset button every few years like the Browns. You’re such a genius. We should just hire you!

  • r4kolb

    I’ve decided to just let next year speak for itself. If they go 8-8 or worse and lose yet again to the Bucs, Jags, Jets, Titans, heck even Falcons will that be enough? How many years of mediocrity will it take?

  • T R

    Dave has never been shy about giving his opinion on Tomlin… you just want him to agree to your Incompetence (your word not mine)

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