Thursday, April 10, 2014
Munchak ready to teach Steelers' O-linemen
By Scott Brown
PITTSBURGH -- The six Lombardi Trophies that line the front of the library at Steelers headquarters are impossible to miss even for those used to walking past them on a regular basis.
They have already made an impression on new offensive line coach Mike Munchak, who has done everything in football but win a Super Bowl.
“I’m here to see if we can get that seventh Super Bowl trophy in that case and help these players become as good as they can be,” Munchak told Steelers.com on Thursday. “From what I can see on tape, this is a good, young group that wants to be the best and it’s going to be fun working with them. I see myself as a teacher.”
"The guy is no-nonsense. He wants to get the job done," Steelers offensive lineman Kelvin Beachum said of Mike Munchak.
Munchak should find more than willing pupils -- whether it is in the meeting room or on the practice field -- since no offensive line coach can match his combined chops as a coach and a player.
Munchak is in the Pro Football Hall of Fame and is considered one of the best guards in NFL history. The nine-time Pro Bowler spent 14 seasons coaching the offensive line for the Oilers/Titans before becoming the head coach for the only franchise he had ever worked or played for prior to joining the Steelers.
That the Scranton, Pa., native became available at about the time the Steelers were looking to stop the revolving door at offensive line coach proved ideal for both sides.
“It is hard to pick up and move,” said Munchak, who was fired in January after three seasons as the Titans' coach, “but if you’re going to do that this is a great place to end up.”
Elation may be too strong to characterize the general feeling around the Steelers regarding the addition of Munchak. But not by much.
The offensive line came together nicely at the end of last season and it returns every starter, including Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, who played eight snaps in 2013 before tearing his ACL.
Pouncey has been working out at the Steelers’ practice facility -- he was here again on Thursday -- and he is among the linemen who could elevate their play under Munchak's tutelage.
If the line shows significant improvement in 2014 -- and, of course, stays healthy to some degree -- the offense could be good enough to carry a defense that is in transition.
And carry the Steelers back to the playoffs following 8-8 seasons.
Munchak, the perfect coach to pull everything together for a line that doesn't have a projected starter over 28, said he wants his players to take an even-keeled approach to the game while also exhibiting toughness and selflessness.
He figures to be more teacher than taskmaster but he won't have to yell to get his players' attention. His credentials alone will do that -- and help Munchak impart a message that has guided since his days as an All-American at Penn State.
“You don’t want to be that weak-link guy,” Munchak said. “Be accountable and if you don’t have a good ethic we’re not going to be very good. I’m big on being prepared, being prepared for the moment. It’s a young group, so I’m looking forward to getting to know them and working with them and getting the job done.”