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2021 Offseason Questions: Will Adrian Klemm Be Right Man At Right Time?

The Pittsburgh Steelers’ 2020 season is now in the books, and it ended in spectacular fashion—though the wrong kind of spectacular—in a dismal postseason defeat at the hands of the Cleveland Browns, sending them into an early offseason mode after going 12-4 in the regular season and winning the AFC North for the first time in three years.

After setting a franchise record by opening the year on an 11-game winning streak, they followed that up by losing three games in a row, going 1-4 in the final five games, with only a 17-point comeback staving off a five-game slide. But all the issues they had in the regular season showed up in the postseason that resulted in their early exit.

The only thing facing them now as they head into 2021 is more questions, and right now, they lack answers. What will Ben Roethlisberger do, and what will they do with him? What will the salary cap look like? How many free agents are they going to lose? Who could they possibly afford to retain? Who might they part ways with—not just on the roster, but also on the coaching staff?

These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.

Question: Will Adrian Klemm prove to be the right man for the job with the Steelers’ offensive line?

When you make changes at a coaching position, you might be influenced to bring in somebody who primarily caters to the players at the group who are currently the most important, while possibly missing bigger-picture needs down the road.

Pittsburgh’s promotion of Shaun Sarrett to offensive line coach in 2019 meant that they would maintain continuity at the position, as he had already been an assistant since 2012, and veterans like Maurkice Pouncey and David DeCastro were already intimately familiar with him.

Adrian Klemm was brought in that year to be his assistant, but has now been promoted to offensive line coach. The guys in the room know him now, but not at the same level. And so far, they are the only ones who have really shown any enthusiasm about the hire.

Klemm, who did have experience running the room at the college level at multiple posts (first SMU, then later UCLA), got praise from multiple current and former players regarding the decision to hire him, unsolicited remarks, some of which were perhaps made from a feeling of needing to defend the hire.

While he has never been a head offensive line coach at the NFL level, everybody has to have a first opportunity, and with the position at a transitional point, moving on with younger players like Chukwuma Okorafor and Kevin Dotson, and with the expectation of drafting one or more later this year, perhaps he will show himself to be the guy to lead the next generation of starters. Obviously the team is counting on him demonstrating that.

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