5 Offseason Changes Primed To Help Steelers Succeed In 2014

Munchak To The Rescue

The Steelers wasted no time showing offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr. the door after the 2013 season ended. They also smartly jumped at the opportunity to hire former Tennessee Titans head Mike Munchak to replace him after he was fired. Munchak, a Hall of Famer, spent 12 years in the NFL as an offensive guard and another 14 seasons as the offensive line coach in Tennessee prior to him getting the head coaching job in 2011. Munchak is a technician that can relate to the Steelers offensive linemen thanks to his time spent in the trenches and he commands respect. The Steelers have a lot of recent early draft picks invested in their offensive group and it’s time that they live up to their potential.  Munchak’s job is to make sure that happens immediately.

Peezy Intensity Back In The Steel City

When Joey Porter was jettisoned out of Pittsburgh following the 2006 season, he took his patented Peezy intensity with him.  When he was with the Steelers, the defense fed off of him and his hatred for the opposition. The Steelers hired Porter to the coaching staff during the offseason and while he’s officially termed a defensive assistant, most of his time will be spent mentoring and teaching the Steelers young group of linebackers. Porter’s prized pupil upon his return to the Steel City is second-year outside linebacker Jarvis Jones, who recorded all of one sack during his rookie season. Jones plays on the same side that Porter once did, so the student figures to learn a lot from the teacher. While Porter is technically a coach, he still has the mentality of a player and thus should be a great veteran presence and leader in the Steelers locker room.

Need For Speed

They say that speed kills and that’s exactly what the Steelers thought they needed to add a lot of during the offseason. Where should we start? The addition of safety Mike Mitchell during free agency gives the Steelers deepest part of their secondary an element of speed that’s been missing for several years. He’ll be able to cover a lot of ground that Ryan Clark wasn’t able to get to and also be able run with nearly any offensive player that the opponent lines up in the slot when his responsibilities call for it. Mitchell has quite a few other positive attributes associated with him, but his 4.4 speed is near the top of the list. Ryan Shazier, the Steelers first-round draft pick back in May, was easily the fastest linebacker in this year’s draft class. He can cover a lot of ground in a hurry and that’s something that’s been missing alongside fellow starter Lawrence Timmons ever since he came into the league. Shazier will make his share of mistakes as a rookie starter, but his speed will help him prevent little mistakes from turning into big ones. Shazier isn’t even the fastest member of the Steelers 2014 draft class as running back/wide receiver Dri Archer was the fastest player this year at the NFL combine. Not only should Archer be able to showcase that speed at least five times a game this year on offense out in space, he also should wind up being the primary kickoff and punt returner at some point during the season.

Blount Force Trauma

The Steelers upgraded their backup running back position during the offseason as they replaced Jonathan Dwyer with LeGarrette Blount. While Blount is certainly a big back, he has nimble feet for a player of his size. While Blount will likely be used sparingly in the first half of games in order to give starter Le’Veon Bell a breather, his ability to wear out defenses late in games when the Steelers have the lead is where he should have extra value. Blount also has been known to break off long runs during his career as well, so he’s not just a three yards and a cloud of dust type of running back. His addition gives the Steelers a solid one-two punch in the backfield.

Even Less Huddling Up

The Steelers offense preformed well last season when using the no-huddle and so far this offseason the narrative seems to be that we will see even more of it in 2014. The biggest obstacle that the team needs to overcome to make that a reality is getting all of the newcomers on offense on the same page and that was worked on quite a bit during the OTA and mini camp practices. For several seasons now, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has voiced his want to be faster on offense by using the no-huddle as he feels it gives his side of the football a distinct advantage over the opposing defense. During training camp, Roethlisberger and the rest of the offense will refine what they put in place during the offseason.

  • Josh Gustad

    I can’t help but to wait to see what our offense has in store for this year. I didn’t put too much thought into Joey Porter’s contribution to this upcoming season, but I think he will be a great add to our coaching staff. Could not be more excited for the season.

  • Louis Goetz

    After going 8-8 again I understand there being a lot of attention on the changes, but I don’t think enough attention has been paid this off season to what Antonio Brown did last year, especially with it being the first year he was thee #1 guy. 110 catches for 1,498 yards and 8 TDs. Undoubtedly, his TD production would’ve been higher had it not been so easy for Ben to hit Cotchery in the end zone 10 times. How can you not be overly anxious to see him continue where he left off? The same goes for Le’Veon Bell, who was a rookie starter last year, missed his first three games, and was unfortunately playing not only from behind on the scoreboard, but behind a patchwork O-Line most of the season. Never-the-less, he still put up 1,200 yards and 8 scores. He and the O-Line are both healthy now, and the O-Line is being coached by a legend. How far into the stratosphere is he going to fly? Then you have to add 250 lb. LeGarette Blount to the mix. The only thing he did was rush 48 times for 355 yards and 6 TDs in the last two games he was featured in by the Patriots. You can talk about the defensive additions and the coaches all you want, but take two minutes and tell me why this team isn’t going to have a premier — as in a Top 5 — offense this season.

  • dgh57

    I think the new Zone Blocking Scheme will also help and benefit the two best OL we have in Pouncey and DeCastro, along with Bell. But first we have to at least stay relatively HEALTHY before anything else.

  • sean mcmartin

    That is a great point. Health. The O-line has been decimated by injuries the last few seasons. Time for munch to grind them into winners.
    Can’t wait for some football..

  • cencalsteeler

    I’d like to add one more…. Brad Wing. I am very optimistic this kid shines for us. Though not a popular position, I can’t stress enough how important the position is. Part of the unspoken success of the 49ers is Andy Lee and how he helps them dominate field position. I’m personally pulling for Wing to win the trash can contest this training camp. Pin em back, Brad!

  • steeltown

    Plenty or talent in that leg, im hoping he turns the proverbial corner and becomes a main stay