The 2016 season is unfortunately over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are now embarking upon their latest offseason journey, heading back to the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now behind us, there is plenty left to discuss.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the offseason as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to the Super Bowl, after reaching the AFC Championship game last season for the first time in more than half a decade.
Question: How significant will the loss of wide receivers coach Richard Mann be after this season?
Last week, Steelers veteran wide receivers coach Richard Mann confirmed again that he intends to retire after the 2017 season. Some believed that he was going to retire after last season, but he told reporters that he came back one more year looking for another Super Bowl ring (after winning one with the Buccaneers in 2002).
Last year, of course, the Steelers had major issues with injuries at the wide receiver position, with Antonio Brown being the only player to stay healthy and be productive from the start of the season to the finish line. The second starter was never stabilized for a variety of reasons.
Mann evidently wants to see what he can get out of this wide receiver group at full capacity, believing that they have enough firepower to win the Super Bowl. That is certainly nice to hear, and he has proven over his tenure with the Steelers that he has the ability to get quite a bit out of his players.
So how big a blow will it be when he calls it a career and Pittsburgh has to find somebody else to coach their wide receivers? They certainly don’t have anybody in-house that would seem to be anything close to a lateral move to fill the position.
The Steelers have had three wide receivers coaches under Mike Tomlin, beginning with Randy Fichtner, who came in with the head coach in 2007. He moved to take over the quarterbacks in 2010 when Ken Anderson retired, and Scottie Montgomery was brought in to coach the wide receivers after spending four years coaching receivers at Duke.
Montgomery returned to Duke in 2013 as an assistant head coach, and now has a head-coaching gig with East Carolina, but it was interesting that they brought in an established veteran like Mann after having two relatively inexperienced coaches at the wide receiver position at the NFL level. What approach will they take to replace him?