Our mission is to evaluate everything. That’s kind of what we do around here. But I’ll be the first to admit it. Evaluating players, even though we get to watch every snap they take, is hard. Evaluating a head coach, whose never on the field, is even harder. Coordinators even tougher. Positional coaches? More difficult. And assistant coaches, like Adrian Klemm was until yesterday, is next to impossible.
That’s what makes the decision to promote Klemm to new offensive line coach difficult to evaluate. On the merits, anyway. On the optics, it doesn’t look great. What the hire feels like, as Matthew Marczi wrote this morning, is the Steelers running out of options. With Hank Fraley heading back to Detroit, James Campen’s interview seemingly going nowhere, and Mike Devlin appearing to turn them down for even an interview, the Steelers were running out of candidates. They decided the best move was to stay in-house with Klemm.
He’s someone we don’t have a lot of information on. Hiring him in 2019 was a smart idea in the sense of giving Shaun Sarrett an assistant, that dynamic worked well between Mike Munchak and Sarrett, and we noted Klemm a couple times in our training camp reports. But there isn’t much beyond that we’re privy to.
To Klemm’s credit, he has a resume similar to the outside candidates the team interviewed. Clearly, the Steelers wanted someone with NFL playing experience, something previous o-line coach Sarrett didn’t have. Fraley, Campen, and Devlin all played in the league. So did Klemm, spending five years in the NFL. He won two Super Bowls with the New England Patriots. On paper, that resume gives him credibility in the locker room. He understands the path to winning a Lombardi. One reason why Munchak is so successful of a coach is because of his resume. It’s wise for players to listen to the guy who has a gold jacket in his closet.
Klemm isn’t brand new to being a full-time o-line coach. He was one for years in college, first at SMU, then at UCLA. He doesn’t have NFL experience in that role but he’s led a room before. And that’s important.
All of this is to say we don’t know how Klemm is going to work out. Philosophically, will he bring a different approach to the offensive line room than Sarrett? For the Steelers “no more status quo” sake, I sure hope so. While I agree the optics of the situation look bad, the team losing out on candidate after candidate, all that matters are results.
One thing is obvious. This team needs dramatically better results.