There’s a changing of the mindset and how the offensive line plays for the Pittsburgh Steelers this season. Under new Head OL Coach Adrian Klemm, everything now revolves around physicality, aggressiveness, and a more dominant style of blocking.
Leading that change, Klemm has caught the attention of many with his fired up language. In a minicamp media session Thursday, he said it’s not an intentional choice that is part of a specific coaching style. It’s just how he is, what’s helped him get to where he is in the game, and how he wants his team to play to find more success themselves.
“I don’t think I have a coaching style. I’m just myself, you know, I’m passionate about the game. This is what I’ve done my entire life as an adult. I was fortunate enough to play it, and been coaching ever since and just around it all the time. And I’m in a certain environment because I’m just a product of my environment,” Klemm said.
Klemm’s environment came from four years as a New England Patriot as a second round pick in 2000. After a year with the Green Bay Packers, Klemm transitioned to coaching. He coached in multiple roles with SMU and UCLA before making the jump to the NFL, serving as an assistant OL coach for Pittsburgh the last two seasons and earning the head OL coach role this offseason.
He quickly established a new tone for a new-look offensive line, one that focused on combining athleticism and aggressiveness to push defenses around and set a tone for a running game that disappeared last season.
“I’m just being demanding of guys, you know laugh sometimes because I get after it or whatever, but I’m passionate about it. I love what I do, I take pride in what I do,” Klemm said.
Klemm’s line this season is very different from the group he coached as an assistant last year. David DeCastro remains as a Pro Bowler at right guard. But Kevin Dotson replaces Matt Feiler at left guard. Zach Banner gets a second chance to start at right tackle after a Week 1 injury last season. The left tackle spot vacated by Alejandro Villanueva goes to either Chukwuma Okorafor, Dan Moore Jr., or Joe Haeg. None have started a full season at that position in the NFL. And one of Kendrick Green, B.J. Finney, or J.C. Hassenauer will replace Maurkice Pouncey at center.
Pittsburgh has multiple spots where it doesn’t even know who will start this season. But every contender (and those with starting spots locked up) carry the skillset Klemm needs for his fiery, physical line.
“It doesn’t matter who’s in there, we have the same expectations for each group and each individual,” Klemm said. “I don’t care if it’s a first string guy, third string guy. The expectations are the same. You made it to this level, there’s something that got you here, and I want to see it every day on display. If you can’t do those things then it’s the next man up.”
While his attitude and what he says on the field will draw everyone’s attention, Klemm wants it to translate into his line adopting the same type of attitude, and translating it into some performance during game action.
“I’m not going to accept sub-par performances or effort. We’re going to make mistakes and sometimes we’re going to struggle, but the one thing we’re not going to do is get pushed around,” Klemm said.