The Pittsburgh Steelers’ next opponent will have a number of familiar faces. That would be the Denver Broncos, who have on their roster several former Steelers, namely Mark Barron, Nick Vannett, and Diontae Spencer. As a bonus, they also have three former Steelers on their practice squad: Patrick Morris, Jake Rodgers, and P.J. Locke.
But nobody among them spent more time with the team than Mike Munchak, who is in his second season as Denver’s offensive line coach. He held the same post in Pittsburgh for five years between 2014 and 2018 and played a critical role in transforming them into one of the top offensive lines in the game, twice sending three linemen to the Pro Bowl in a single season.
Munchak, who, according to Cameron Heyward, is the team’s “ultimate spy” in Denver. Or at least that’s what he told reporters yesterday, jokingly. “He’s broken down our defense more than any other offensive coordinator or O-line coach has”.
After all, who has been more responsible for trying to figure out how to stop Heyward and T.J. Watt and Bud Dupree and company over the past several years than has Munchak, who had to try to get David DeCastro and Maurkice Pouncey and Alejandro Villanueva to do just that, albeit in practice settings.
“He’s going to put his offense in a good position, whether it’s combo-blocking, trying to get the pressure off so he does a lot of play-actions and boots to combat that”, he assured reporters, in understanding the difficult task they will have ahead of them going against his group.
“We’ve got to make sure we stay in our gaps”, he added. “I think ‘Munch’s’ offenses have always been very good when they can get D-linemen and outside linebackers out of their gaps, and they can just get to the second level. We got to make sure we have a disciplined defense that runs and hits”.
The Steelers, unfortunately, don’t have any access to actionable intelligence on the Broncos, who lost to the Tennessee Titans in their season opener on Monday night in a last-second defeat, by the score of 14-16.
In the game, Melvin Gordon was able to rush for 78 yards on 15 attempts. Lindsay, who is expected to miss the game due to injury, only managed 24 yards on seven carries. Drew Lock completed 22 of 33 pass attempts for 216 yards and one touchdown, but they also fumbled four times as a team, twice by Lock. Gordon also fumbled, losing the ball. The Titans did not manage to sack Lock at all, and only hit him five times.
In other words, Munchak’s bunch had a pretty solid first outing. They won’t be pushovers by any means, but nevertheless, the Steelers should certainly be able to handle them, even with Munchak perhaps knowing some of their core tendencies.