We’re bound to see more outside-zone run this season by the Pittsburgh Steelers with new offensive line coach Mike Munchak now in town and the only thing left to be determined is just how much it will be used.
“It’ll be a part of our offense,” said Munckak in a recent interview with Steelers.com. “It’ll add to what we’ve done last year as an offense. It’s something we’re very capable of doing with the type of offensive linemen we have. That’s the nice thing about getting versatile guys who can run, a guy like (David) DeCastro who can pull and do some things, (Kelvin) Beachum can run as a tackle, (Maurkice) Pouncey can obviously do just about anything you want him to do as a center. There are a lot of options to what we can do, and that’s what we’re exploring now. My job as line coach is to figure out what they all do best, and then let’s make that part of the offense. The outside-zone will easily be a part of that, part of the equation. There’s a place for that scheme that will allow us to be more productive.”
While Steelers second-year running back Le’Veon Bell has voiced his excitement about the possibility of more outside-zone being run in 2014, his new position coach James Saxon has been careful to commit to one type of blocking scheme over another.
“Right now, (offensive line coach Mike Munchak) and myself, being the two new guys we’re in the process of learning all the little intricacies of what we’re trying to do as an offense,” said Saxon. “We’ve had a lot of great discussions about what we want. The conversations that I’m having with the guys in my room, I’ve said, ‘Look, we’re going to do the best things in the running game for the five guys that are blocking up front.’ We have to be accountable in terms of where we put the football. They’re going to know where to put the football because we have to help those five guys up front.”
One of those five guys up front is of course center Maurkice Pouncey, who is now back practicing again after tearing up his knee just eight plays into the 2013 season. Munchak knows how important it is to get him back and how they must make sure to keep him reeled in between now and the start of the season.
“That’s what I was so excited about coming here,” said Munchak of Pouncey. “I knew most of these guys, I’ve studied them, watched them. I remember when Pouncey got drafted, I said, ‘Man, they got a great one there.’ He’s doing well, I think right on target to what they thought he would be. He’s very excited about playing again. He’s been to all the meetings. He’s been on the field running around. We pretty much are just going to have to control him from not being too excited as we get into (training) camp, because it’s a long way to go yet before that opener. But he looks good, everything’s optimistic there. He’s the leader, there’s no doubt about that. He’s the guy they all look to.”