Steelers Stack The Deck For New Coaches

One of the first topics that I delved into when I began writing about sports a few years ago was the fact that Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin had a tendency to want to give his new coaches some new players for their position to help bring them along.

New coaches, then, meant new toys. When the Steelers signed Sean Kugler to be their offensive line coach, for example, they drafted Maurkice Pouncey in the first round. Jack Bicknell Jr didn’t get the same treatment a couple years later, but that was because the team already invested so much over that three-year period in the position.

When the Steelers signed Carnell Lake to become their defensive backs coach, they doubled down at cornerback in 2011 with Curtis Brown and Cortez Allen in the third and fourth rounds of the draft, respectively.

Remember former special teams coach Al Everest? Even for him, the Steelers ended up bringing in wide receiver Arnaz Battle and safety Will Allen, whom if I recall correctly were both special teams captains with their former teams, or if not, were still core special teams players.

New wide receivers coach Richard Mann didn’t get too much for his first season on the job—just Justin Brown in the sixth round—and in his second season, he saw two of his top three targets leave in free agency.

To try to make up for it, the team signed Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey in free agency, and then added the coveted ‘tall’ receiver in the draft via Martavis Bryant in the fourth round of this past draft.

This year, the Steelers have added two new coaches—running backs coach James Saxon and offensive line coach Mike Munchak—and both of them received some attention in this draft.

For Saxon, the Steelers added a big back in LeGarrette Blount during free agency, and then added Dri Archer in the draft, two players with seemingly very different skill sets that will expand the position’s repertoire.

With the Steelers returning eight offensive linemen from last season—all of whom started at least two games, excluding Pouncey, of course—for once, the line didn’t need much. Still, they managed to add an intriguing prospect in Wesley Johnson at the end of the fifth round.

Johnson is a player who has as much starting experience as you can ask for, making 51 starts in college. Even more intriguing is that he has started at both tackle positions, at guard, and at center. He is a player that doesn’t simply have the potential to become the every-position player that they projected Kelvin Beachum to be, he’s already shown that he can do it.

Archer and Johnson give the Steelers’ new coaches projects to work on as they ready their stables for the upcoming season. Perhaps it also gives the front office the chance to see how they bring a player along from scratch. But maybe most important is simply the fact that it adds depth and talent to their positions to give their new coaches a running start. After all, coaching changes are usually a symptom of unsatisfactory performance.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi
Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.
  • Weiss Chad

    Watching tape on Tuitt.God he is also deceivingly fast.Takes on double team well.Seems to be very good using his hands.Has a quick burst to go along w power.Him and heyward are gonna be a great tandem.

  • Luke Shabro

    I’ve been so excited thinking about the two of them in nickel with Jarvis, Worilds, Timmons and Shazier on the field. Maybe Gay blitzing off the edge. Yeah good pick

  • Deuce22

    I’d also add here that new Assistant Defensive Coach Joey Porter got him a new toy in Ryan Shazier!

  • blackandgoldBullion

    Great linebackers have always coincided with great Pittsburgh defense. Let’s hope this is the beginnings of the next great D for the Steelers.

  • Weiss Chad

    Heyward,Tuitt ,Worilds,Shazier,Timmons,Jones,Shark,Allen,Mitchell,I would say they have done a nice job of reloading

  • Kenneth Wilt

    I think if you look at the last few years with our D being down, we didn’t have great LB play or even great players at the position. In order for Timmons to really excel, he needs help around him. The OLB position has been a mess with all the Woodley injuries and then Harrison coming off his injury, a lot of youth with Jones there. Then at ILB you have Foote was nothing more than average followed by Williams who was way to young to hold down that position in our defense.

  • charles

    Moats may very well surprise too.

  • charles

    3-4 flat out doesn’t work without explosive LB.

  • GoSteelerz

    One thing I noticed about Tuitt was his hands. No big obvious moves, but quick subtle hand usage that prevents blockers from being able to engage him, and let’s him shed the blocker quickly and make the play. I was very surprised and pleased that we got him.


    I personally can’t wait to watch how Saxon uses his new backfield! Blount averages almost 6 yards per carry on 1st downs (enter veteran line and Munch improvement here)…so Bell takes a crap load less beatings then when everyone knew he was running it on that down last year…bring Bell in on 2nd to finish them off with his fall forward elusiveness, or BB’s play-action for bigger gains, and if incomplete then add an Archer, or a Johnson, or a Blanchflower with Heath, AB, and Bryant out there still for any 3rd downs we might have to encounter along the wa… and imho we should be pretty okay with our Big Ben led offense each game. (Oh yeah, for those of you who tried to follow all of that, it basically breaks down as everyone is fresher in the backfield both every game and all season long versus other teams, and we have a few guys like Moore and Spaeth who can give some of the outside guys a breather as well. Should be fun.
    Go Steelers!

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    A lot of pro bowl potential candidates if we can gel this yr barring injuries of course im hoping they will be talking about our def for yrs again like the steel curtain with a slight chance to be better imho just for the fact how the game and players have evolved much faster and can play multiple positions

  • Weiss Chad

    I agree..I am hoping Taylor comes back and plays the way he did after getting benched by cowher.this front seven has been drastically improved on paper.If we had a young Polamalu, Taylor,and Hampton w shmarko in the slot omg.I will say I like Mclendon but I just miss hampton