The regular season having ended, we have already reached the point of the season in which anywhere between four to a dozen head coaches annually lose their jobs. I believe we are currently around a half-dozen, and that number will likely climb a bit higher by the time we reach the start of the new league year in March.
And with that comes the annual reports of the assistant coaches of successful teams being coveted for interviews for any number of vacant head-coaching positions. The Pittsburgh Steelers have largely been able to avoid this fracas in recent years, but not so after a 13-3 season as the number two seed in the AFC.
Already, a report surfaced on New Year’s Eve, with the close of the season, that should the enigmatic Jerry Jones opt to part with Jason Garrett, then Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley—to the jubilation of many—would be a primary target in the search for the new head coach of the Dallas Cowboys.
More substantially, it was reported yesterday that in the wake of Arizona Cardinals head coach—and former Steelers offensive coordinator—Bruce Arians’ announcement that he is retiring, among the candidates that the team wants to interview for the job is current Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak.
Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard, has spent almost the entirely of his post-playing career serving as an offensive line coach. He has served in that capacity, happily and ably, in Pittsburgh for the past four seasons. He was the Oilers’/Titans’ offensive line coach from 1997 to 2010.
The only hiccup in between those time periods was when Tennessee cleaned out their cupboard on the coaching staff, which included the firing of head coach Jeff Fisher, leaving Munchak as the last man standing.
Munchak was promoted to head coach as a result and served in that role dutifully for three seasons, but, quite frankly, I don’t know that he ever desired it, or has a strong desire to resume that role. Haley, who was head coach of the Kansas City Chiefs for the better part of three seasons, may have similar reservations.
Since his ugly dismissal from Kansas City, Haley has functioned as the Steelers’ offensive coordinator for the past six seasons, and has transitioned his unit into one of the best in the league. The past four seasons have represented four of the top six scoring seasons in team history.
I would suppose that just about every individual who enters the coaching profession has some level of ambition or aspiration toward being in charge. Almost everybody would like a shot at running a team as head coach.
But many who do get that shot find that it is not for them. Wade Phillips found that out, for example. Some, frankly, are just better at specializing than in micromanaging. I’m inclined to wager that Munchak is one, and Haley may be as well.