Shaun Sarrett has been an assistant offensive line coach for the Pittsburgh Steelers for the past seven years, having originally been brought in during the 2012 season and working under Sean Kugler before he left for the opportunity to coach his alma mater. After outlasting one season with Jack Bicknell. Jr. in 2013, he was blessed with the shot of learning his craft from one of the greatest.
He worked with Mike Munchak—not just for, or under, but with—over the course of the past five seasons, and now he will be replacing him as the Steelers’ offensive line coach, rather than as a mere assistant. But the question is, who will be replacing his role as the assistant?
If you look around the NFL, it’s incredibly rare to find any team, or at least one that has a full coaching staff, which is a bit hard to find right now, that doesn’t employ an assistant offensive line coach or an offensive assistant whose emphasis is along the offensive line.
After all, it makes sense. The offensive line is potentially the largest position group on the roster, in competition with the secondary or the linebackers for most teams, but they are more likely to be divided by position than is the line.
Munchak and Sarrett frequently divided up the responsibilities in practice, however, which is something that the latter talked about earlier this offseason in a sit-down interview with Missi Matthews after he was named Munchak’s replacement as offensive line coach.
“I worked a lot with the tackles and so forth, and there would be times where I would take the right side of the line, he would take the left side”, Sarrett told Matthews. “But we were all working on the same drills per se. It was just he would take one side, and we would be more focused on the players themselves. You know, to have four players working with one coach actually worked out a lot better compared to having 10 guys, where the detail gets explained more. I think that really helps them in the long run”.
This quote really makes me believe that it’s incredibly unlikely the Steelers fail to add an assistant offensive line coach or offensive assistant, or move one of the offensive assistants currently on the roster to focusing in on that area, though none of them currently have had that expertise to my knowledge.
While the Steelers have perhaps the most veteran group of offensive linemen in the league, with all five of their starters having at least four years of starting experience under their belt (three of them being multiple-time Pro Bowlers), that doesn’t mean they can afford to be lax.
Munchak was known for keeping the group on their toes and emphasizing the importance of chemistry and working together, which is why they all showed up at OTAs and played into the preseason. Sarrett was a part of that and will have to lead that show now, but I would be surprised if they don’t add somebody to assist him.