It wasn’t entirely what made Mike Munchak a successful coach. But the fact he was a Hall of Fame player certainly made him someone whose advice and coaching was worth listening to. New Steelers’ offensive line coach Adrian Klemm doesn’t have quite that shiny of a resume. But he played in the NFL and is bringing similar credibility into the locker room.
Talking with reporters Thursday, offensive tackle Zach Banner described the type of coach Klemm is and the reception he’s received from players.
“He’s just like me, right?” Banner said via a Zoom call. “Inner city, west coast kid. He’s from Inglewood, California. We’re built different on how we were raised, how we’re coached, Him being a player’s coach too as well. And when you hear that, that’s not like a typical coach. When you say players like him more, he actually played is what I mean. That experience is there. He played, he has a whole bunch of rings from his playing days.”
Klemm was the 46th overall pick in the 2000 draft by the New England Patriots. Though he started only ten games in four years for them, he earned a pair of Super Bowl rings as the Pats began their dynasty. He saw his most extensive starting experience in 2005, starting eight games at guard for the Green Bay Packers.
Playing in the NFL doesn’t mean you’re guaranteed to be an effective coach. They’re separate skillsets. But former players who can effectively communicate their coaching points are worth their weight in gold just as a guy like Mike Munchak proved. It’s the outline of NFL success by a guy who knows what it takes to succeed at that level. And Klemm is bringing a detail-oriented approach.
“His mentality is not only to get better every single day but to work on the details and hold each other accountable. I think those are the biggest couple of things. It sometimes doesn’t look pretty but we need that. When I say we need that, this is the National Football League. There’s some guys across these 32 teams that make ten times as much as their coaches. But when you put it in to the type of respect level that we have for him, we don’t have those big heads in this room. We don’t have those types of egos in this room. Everybody in this room wants to be coached. Everybody knows the chip that we have on our shoulders that we want to play with.”
It’s a young and much different looking front five compared to just two seasons ago. A unit that needs to be coached and one clearly receptive to the idea. Whether that’s Chukwuma Okorafor proving he can be an NFL left tackle (and get paid like one), Zach Banner hopefully embarking on his first 16-game starting season, Kevin Dotson making the jump in Year Two, or rookie Kendrick Green fighting for a starting job. Few people in that room should be content with their situation. That’ll make the room more competitive and ultimately, better off for the group, the offense, and the team.
Banner’s praised the Klemm hire all offseason and did it once more Thursday.
“Klemm’s stepping up to the plate. I love him for it. He’s doing a great, great job.”