The Pittsburgh Steelers will not have Antonio Brown this season. But they do have JuJu Smith-Schuster, who is also a Pro Bowler. They will not have Le’Veon Bell this season. But they will have James Conner, who, again, is already a Pro Bowler in his own right. They also added to these positions in the offseason to strengthen them from a depth perspective.
The offense will also be without Mike Munchak, their offensive line coach, who like many coaches also wore many other hats. He was said to be something like their run game coordinator as well. They don’t have the equivalent of a Pro Bowler to replace him.
But they do have Shaun Sarrett, who has essentially been his apprentice for the past five years, working directly with him, side by side. After Munchak left, he even said that part of the reason he was comfortable leaving was because he knew the group would be fine in Sarrett’s hands. Offensive coordinator Randy Fichtner talked about that transition and expressed a similar sentiment.
“We’re fortunate enough with Shaun, who’s been with us here for a long time—he was trained by him—to still be on the staff”, he told reporters. “From a terminology standpoint to a transition with the room, it’s been awesome. He’s done a really good job”.
Sarrett has been with the team since 2012 when Sean Kugler was still the offensive line coach. He worked with Jack Bicknell, Jr. in 2013, and the report is that he essentially took over the line in the second half of that year, seemingly supported by the fact that Bicknell was fired in the offseason. He was roughly 30 years old at the time, I believe.
Fichtner was later asked about the fact that Munchak had a big role in planning the running game, among other things, and how things would be adjusted with Sarrett. “We still do the same thing we’re always going to do”, he said. “We’re going to do it collectively. And Munch was great because he involved everyone. We were always a part of it”.
“He’d get adamant about certain things and I would expect Shaun’s gonna get adamant about certain things too”, Fichtner added. “Things that utilize the abilities of those guys upfront. We do the same thing in the passing game, and we try to utilize everyone’s strengths, run the right type of concepts to get everyone involved, so I don’t see that changing”.
The Steelers hired Sarrett to be their offensive line coach precisely because they didn’t want to see things change. Sarrett represents a continuation of the work that Munchak put in turning the offensive line into a force over the course of the past half-decade. It’s his time to pick up where they left off together.