After two straight seasons of equivalent wins and losses, it’s certainly no surprise that the front office of the Pittsburgh Steelers has been busier and more active than usual in their efforts to reshape a middling roster into a true competitor.
The past few months could be fairly described as a season of change amid the shifting fates of a franchise that had just been to the Super Bowl three times in the very recent past. It may well be that past success that has helped drag them down of late.
Of course, selecting late in the draft annually doesn’t help, nor do the big contracts going out to the players that helped you reach that success. But the true death knell has been an unwillingness to recognize when to let go.
The Steelers had hoped to hold together that championship core for a while longer, but the last two seasons have been the wake-up call necessary to introduce the wave of change that we’ve seen this offseason, designed to steer the organization back in the right direction.
The hiring of Mike Munchak to coach to Steelers’ offensive line is perhaps the second-most significant coaching move that’s been made during Mike Tomlin’s tenure with the Steelers, behind only the removal of Bruce Arians and replacing him with Todd Haley as the offensive coordinator following the 2011 season.
Munchak coming on board and the impact that he is expected to have in rejuvenating the offensive line has already been discussed ad nauseum—understandably, I would say, given the Steelers’ recent history in that area.
He was relieved of his head coaching duties with the Titans on January 4th, just a day after the Steelers chose to fire Jack Bicknell, Jr. Bicknell was hired to coach the Steelers’ offensive line in 2013 after Sean Kugler left the team in order to pursue a head coaching opportunity at his alma mater.
It may be common practice in Cleveland, but it’s not every day that the Steelers hire a coach that only lasts for one season, even if his hiring was necessitated by a departure.
Unless they had foreknowledge of Munchak’s release, it’s also true that they made the decision to fire Bicknell without a replacement in mind. And given that they waited over two weeks before hiring Munchak, that’s not very likely.
Still, it seems Tomlin can’t pass up an opportunity to add a former head coach to his staff, as Munchak makes the third other than himself.
Both Haley and defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau served as head coaches for a time. Munchak is the only one to have gone from head coach to position coach, however, though he was also promoted straight from position coach to head coach.
There are many facets of Munchak’s arrival that can be explored, but the bottom line is that he was brought in to foster immediate change. The offensive line has been a weakness more often than not more or less throughout Tomlin’s entire tenure in Pittsburgh. There are a couple of players on that line with Pro Bowl potential, and as long as they stay healthy, it’s up to Munchak to bring that out.