Not only will the Pittsburgh Steelers have new faces and roles on the field, there’s changes along the coaching staff too. The most notable coaching change this offseason was one out of the team’s control. Mike Munchak left to become the Denver Broncos’ offensive line coach, joining Vic Fangio’s crew after losing out for the head coach gig. Almost immediately as that news was confirmed, Pittsburgh named Shaun Sarrett as his replacement. Though a name unknown to many, internally, the team seems to have all the confidence in the world.
Randy Fichtner spoke to the importance of having a familiar face in replacing Munchak.
“We keep the consistency in the offensive line room,” he said in an interview with Steelers.com’s Missi Matthews. “Shaun’s been with us for a long time. He’s been trained by really two good line coaches here. Maybe one of the best of all-time. The pace and communication and understanding he and I have is great.”
Sarrett was a member of the Steelers’ organization even before Munchak was hired. Sarrett served as Jack Bicknell Jr’s assistant for one season. Bicknell Jr. was such a bad hire that by midway through the year that Sarrett essentially took over the group. He may have become the full-time OL coach had Munchak not been fired and became available. The two worked closely over the last five years, building the Steelers’ line into one of the tops of football.
The underrated issue in losing Munchak was having just one coach. Part of the benefit of having the Munchak/Sarrett, beyond their obvious expertise and coaching chops, was being able to split the group up. At training camp, the tackles would go with one coach, interior linemen with another. That helped create more individual attention, position-specific drills, and maximum practice reps. It’s hard for one man to handle a room of 15-16 linemen, the only position coach who has to handle that many players.
So the team made the smart decision and hired Adrian Klemm. Ficthner offered an initial impression on him.
“We did add an assistant offensive line coach position. Adrian Klemm has joined us. Longtime NFL player. Great background. Got Super Bowl rings. He’s been a good college coach. And we’re happy to have him too.”
Most recently, Klemm served as UCLA’s o-line coach from 2012 to 2016. He played in the NFL from 2000-2005, starting 18 games with the New England Patriots and Green Bay Packers. Twice, he won Super Bowls with the Pats.
While Sarrett played college ball at Kent State, it is nice to have someone like Klemm in the room. A voice who can point to his own experiences, creating credibility and buy-in as a coach. That was part of Munchak’s allure. To a much higher degree of course, he was a Hall of Famer, but the same principle applies. And it’s likely Sarrett and Klemm split up the room during practices as they’ve done in the past.