A sophomore year guy like Kevin Dotson can compare and contrast. His first year coached by Shaun Sarrett versus how new head offensive line coach Adrian Klemm has coached. Dotson sees some clear differences between the two men. He discussed the changes Klemm is bringing to the Steelers’ offensive line room.
“I feel like it’s a little more intensity,” Dotson said per a Zoom call provided by the team. “Not to say that Coach [Sarrett] wasn’t doing the job or anything. It’s just a little more like, ‘we need to go.’ More aggression. Even the way that we come off the blocks. It’s no more, I’m getting behind people in blocking. It’s more of going down the middle of them.”
Klemm has preached a need and desire to get more physical since taking over the job. Repeatedly this offseason, he acknowledged the Steelers’ 2020 offensive line simply wasn’t physical enough. Watching them made that obvious. The team routinely struggled to win the line of scrimmage on their way to being the league’s 32nd-ranked rushing attack.
That became a big problem in short-yardage and goal-to-go situations where the Steelers were the worst in football, converting only about half the time. It’s led to an overhaul of the run game, personnel and coaching staff, and the addition of two draft picks in third-rounder Kendrick Green and fourth-rounder Dan Moore Jr. Green in particular is known for his aggressiveness and ability to run block.
Dotson went on to say Klemm is bringing that aggressive mentality not only in the way he coaches but in the way he conducts meetings.
“Even the verbiage that he uses in meetings is way more aggressive. It’s not just ‘get the block.’ It’s more ‘like run through his face’ or like other stuff that I really can’t say. He’s using more aggressive terms and I feel like that kind of pushes our mindset in that way.”
Klemm is clearly trying to establish that physical, aggressive mindset from day one. That’s the benefit of hiring someone like him who has NFL experience. He knows what it takes to succeed at this level. It’s partly what made Mike Munchak such a successful coach; it lends credibility inside that locker room. Previous O-line coach Shaun Sarrett played in college but not at the NFL level and just seemed to have a quieter approach to coaching the O-line than Klemm.
Klemm is instilling the “junkyard dog” mentality in this group. That’ll suit someone like Dotson well. He was regarded as one of the nastiest run blockers in last year’s draft and will get to show that over 17 games as the Steelers’ starting left guard in 2021.