The Pittsburgh Steelers’ coaching staff has changed more this year than it has in perhaps any other year during head coach Mike Tomlin’s tenure. While there were a couple of internal promotions, there are new faces as offensive coordinator, offensive line coach, assistant offensive line coach, quarterbacks coach, tight ends coach, and defensive backs coach. Much of the remaining staff is only moving into year two or three of their tenures.
The significant change in this department is one of the things the Steelers are counting on to change their fortunes. While the promotion of Matt Canada to offensive coordinator takes priority, the promotion of Adrian Klemm to offensive coordinator may come in at a close second. Former Steelers outside linebacker Arthur Moats explained why, in addressing Klemm’s coaching philosophy.
“Playing physical is more than just firing off the ball”, he said on his YouTube channel. “You’ve got to have that mentality that, ‘I’m trying to break your face every single time. I want you to feel pain. When I look in your eyes, I want to see fear’. That’s a different mindset. And I felt at times they didn’t have that last year”.
“I felt at times, it was a lot more going through the motions last year, checking off a box of, ‘I pulled, I ran into this guy, I did my job’”, he continued. “Not, ‘your facemask, and your nose, I want them to become one’. That’s just the energy I want to see, especially from my O-linemen”.
Of course, Moats was on the other side of the ball. As a pass rusher, he knows a little something about offensive linemen, especially what he likes to see out of them when he’s looking to win a one-on-one against them. As an opponent, he was probably licking his chops at times last year.
While the springboard for this topic was second-year lineman Kevin Dotson’s interview with the media during OTAs last week, Moats also singled him out as the sort of player who “has that energy” that Klemm is looking to get out of his unit this year.
Dotson is just one of a number of moving parts coming to the field for the offensive line this year, replacing Matt Feiler at left guard. With Maurkice Pouncey retired, he will be replaced by rookie Kendrick Green, if he can beat out the veteran centers, chiefly B.J. Finney.
Additionally, Chukwuma Okorafor is penciled in to move over from right tackle to left to replace Alejandro Villanueva, who left in free agency to sign with the Baltimore Ravens after the Steelers informed him early on in the free agency process that he would not be brought back.
Can Klemm get all five of his starting guys to buy into his aggressive philosophy? At least on paper, it would sound like Okorafor might struggle with that the most, which could leave him vulnerable to a challenger like rookie Dan Moore Jr.