The Pittsburgh Steelers wasted little time in naming Shaun Sarrett their new offensive line coach after Mike Munchak chose to accept a lateral position with the Denver Broncos in order to be closer to his daughter and granddaughter, who live in the Denver area.
That was pretty much the plan, albeit an informal one, and perhaps something more of a plan B. While Munchak was obviously very highly coveted within the organization, and the team acknowledged that they tried to extend his contract last offseason before it ran out, they knew that they had somebody in Sarrett who was going to be capable of manning that position.
“It really was” a no-brainer, Head Coach Mike Tomlin said, to name Sarrett as Munchak’s successor and to do it virtually immediately, as he told Missi Matthews yesterday in an exclusive sit-down interview with the team’s website conducted during the annual league meeting in Arizona.
“Shaun has grown and developed within our system for a number of years, and worked closely alongside Munch in the development of our offensive line”, Tomlin said. “He’s not new to us. It’s been fun to watch the maturation process of him as a coach over the time spent here. I think all of us are excited about him getting this opportunity and him showing what he’s capable of as a lead line coach”.
Sarrett had been with the Steelers with three different offensive line coaches, beginning with Sean Kugler. During Jack Bicknell, Jr.’s one season on the job, it was reported that he essentially took over coaching the position in the second half of the year.
Bicknell was let go the following offseason and the team eventually hired Munchak, where Sarrett worked under—and with—the veteran line coach. Munchak has spoken extremely highly of his former assistant.
“The best part with me leaving, they’re left in great hands”, he said after he joined the Broncos. “I always thought as a lineman, that’s the hardest thing is to have new coach after new coach come in. He’ll be able to pick up where he and I left off and just add to it and continue to develop these guys. The room’s in a great, great situation”.
Most importantly, he said of Sarrett that “he was a big part of everything I was doing” and that “his role grew quite a bit every year as far as being in front of the group and on the field”. He noted that they would split the group up by position with each one taking one group to work with them individually to pay greater attention to each specific player.
The principle task on Sarrett’s plate—along with new assistant Adrian Klemm—is to sort out the situation at right tackle, which is more of a luxury than a burden. After trading Marcus Gilbert, the team will have an open competition between Matt Feiler, Chukwuma Okorafor, and Jerald Hawkins. Feiler started 10 games there last season and played well.