We got a chance recently to hear from Pittsburgh Steelers defensive line coach John Mitchell about his group, saying that he is “really happy” with where they are. Missi Matthews also recently conducted an interview with offensive line coach Mike Munchak, a snippet of which was shared on the team’s website yesterday, and while he didn’t literally say he was “really happy”, it certainly seems implied.
In the clip of the interviewed that was provided (the full interview will be up on the team’s website on Monday), Munchak is essentially talking about what he is looking to get out of his group for the 2017 season, and the reality is that he understood that there isn’t much further to go in terms of an upward trajectory for an already very solid group.
“I think the goal with us, as it always is for linemen, is consistency. There wasn’t really anything that stood out that said we have a glaring issue as an offensive line”, the veteran offensive line coach told Matthews during the interview.
He talked about some broader goals; “as an offense”, he said, saying that “we have to score more points in the red zone, we can do some obvious things”. He said that his group has “got to take our responsibility in that, whether it be consistency in holding our blocks longer, understanding the scheme better”.
The Steelers originally brought Munchak on board during the 2014 offseason after one season working with Jack Bicknell, Jr. Bicknell replaced Sean Kugler, a coach that the team liked, but who left in order to take over the head-coaching position at his alma mater, certainly something he can’t be blamed for. But the point is that this current group has been together for a while now.
“This is our fourth year together so we’ve been growing a lot each year because they really understand what I’m asking them to do, they really understand our scheme much better”, Munchak told Matthews, “so they can apply it when they see different things”.
He went on to say that his group is “way, way ahead of where we were a couple years ago, even last year”, adding that “these guys are smart football players”. He pointed toward their athleticism presenting them no limitations in what they can run.
He did add that ”we’ve just got to play a little bit smarter when something comes up, when we get some tougher looks”, but the general tone here was a man who understands that he is in a very good position that others in his field would be envious of.
Not only has Munchak been with these linemen for a while, the linemen themselves as a group have that cohesion. Outside of Alejandro Villanueva, who has been here since 2014, the remaining starting four have been together since 2012, the year David DeCastro was drafted in the first round. Marcus Gilbert came in the second the year before, and Maurkice Pouncey in the first in 2010. Ramon Foster, the only lineman 30 or older, joined the team as an undrafted free agent in 2009.