While the name might have been new, the idea certainly wasn’t, and the announcement by the Pittsburgh Steelers of the hiring of a new assistant offensive line coach was about the most predictable and least exciting things that have happened in the city so far since the 2018 season ended.
The Steelers obviously suffered a significant blow when they learned that veteran offensive line coach Mike Munchak would be leaving them in order to take a job at the same position with the Denver Broncos. While he was happy working in Pittsburgh, family values ultimately made the decision for him when the job became available.
But Pittsburgh likely knew that the arrangement with Munchak would always run the risk of being short-lived, which might partly be what they have invested in Shaun Sharrett, who has been an assistant offensive line coach for more than half a decade with them, even longer than Munchak’s tenure.
Sarrett bore a lot of responsibility for running the offensive line room with Munchak, as is something that we have laid out quite a bit since the news first came out, and new assistant offensive line coach Adrian Klemm will likely have to grow into similar responsibilities in relatively short order.
I wrote an article a week or so ago in which I highlighted a key quote from an interview Sarrett conducted with the team’s website in which he talked about his role in working with the offensive linemen, and I might as well share it again here.
“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 said. “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”.
The offensive line can often be the position group with the largest number of players on a given roster, though with the expanded use of sub-packages on defense, the secondary often offers it a run for its money. It’s probably somewhat infrequent that teams now carry fewer than 10 defensive backs.
But with five linemen starting and playing every snap, that is a lot for one person to handle. That is why virtually every single team in the league employs an assistant offensive line coach or an offensive assistant whose focus is on the offensive line.
It’s simply not a job that it makes sense to give to just one person, no matter how good he is, even if he is the leader. You need that assistant just to do the bare minimum of the grunt work so that you can assure that you’re properly teaching.
The Steelers have that now in Klemm, surely somebody that they are hoping can grow into the job on a long-term basis, as Sarrett did before him. It will be his first job in the NFL, but Mike Tomlin hasn’t been shy about giving such people opportunities.