In a parallel timeline in which the Tennessee Titans never let Mike Munchak go as their head coach, it may well be that Shaun Sarrett is already a beloved name in the city. Chances are that the Pittsburgh Steelers may have named him their offensive line coach to replace Jack Bicknell, Jr. in 2014 until Munchak fell in their lap.
Five years later, and under a half-decade of Munchak’s tutelage, he now gets his chance to run the show, and while the offensive linemen will surely miss him, they also believe in Sarrett. If you have been paying close attention over the past couple of years, you will have no doubt seen pretty much every lineman at one point or another volunteer his name during interviews when speaking about their coaching.
That is how much Sarrett has been involved. According to reporters from 2013, he had already become the team’s de facto offensive line coach over Bicknell around midseason, and he has been Munchak’s righthand man the entire time he’s been here.
He has learned quite a bit from Munchak over the past five years, and now he’s ready to steer the ship. We already know that Munchak is a great coach, so I’m sure that he has done everything he can to prepare Sarrett for this moment.
A moment both of them likely knew would come at some point. Let’s face it, Munchak was always going to be a ‘flight risk’ no matter how much he loved working with the Steelers, with Sarrett, and with this group of linemen, about whom he has raved over the years.
He has already been a hot commodity on the head coaching circuit for a couple of years now and probably could have landed multiple jobs by now if it was his intention to pursue them. He didn’t because he was content, and was willing to fulfill his contract.
And now he passes the baton to Sarrett, whom the Steelers believe is ready for the task at hand. After all, he already has quite a bit of talent to work with, and it’s not as though they’re simply going to forget everything they have learned. This is a line that includes three Pro Bowlers, as well as proven depth.
You could bring Bicknell back and they would still be a good offensive line. Things aren’t going to fall apart. But the fact is that, from an on-field instructional standpoint, Sarrett has been just as involved in teaching these linemen as has Munchak, as anybody who has attended training camp and paid attention can affirm.
It’s undeniable that losing Munchak was a blow, but it’s not doom and gloom without him, either, at least not until proven otherwise. He is being replaced by a guy that he has been teaching for years, and who has been directly working with and instructing this specific group of linemen. They’re still in good hands, which is why the Steelers moved so quickly.