This past season, the scapegoat of much of the criticism of the Pittsburgh Steelers surrounded their underachieving offensive line, which often did Pro Bowl rookie runner Najee Harris no favors, as he was constantly running into brick walls up front. Former Offensive Line Coach Adrian Klemm left mid-season to join the University of Oregon staff, and after the season, interim OL Coach Chris Morgan took the same gig with the Chicago Bears.
The stars seemed to be aligning for the return of former-OL Coach Mike Munchak, a Hall of Fame guard in his own right who from 2014 to 2018 helped mold the starting five up front who was often seen as the best in the league. Perhaps his greatest success story is how he transformed fan favorite Alejandro Villanueva, a 6-foot-9 undrafted defensive end, into a Pro Bowl left tackle.
“Well, I think it was, with coaching, my years in Pittsburgh were awesome,” Munchak said on The Cook and Joe Show via 93.7 The Fan.“My five years there was something I’ll never forget and the hardest thing I ever did was leave there.”
— Alex Kozora (@Alex_Kozora) December 28, 2018
Munchak left the team after the 2018 season, not due to job performance, but for the rare opportunity to be closer to his family, when he accepted a lateral move to go coach with the Denver Broncos. When the offensive line coaching gig opened up recently, Munchak immediately cited his preference for staying out close to his family. However, his return was indeed a conversation had behind closed doors.
“We talk,” Munchak said before quickly shifting gears. “That’s one of those things I don’t really want to talk about. I was more at the time, trying to stay in Denver, out West. It’s something we never really discussed because, as much as I loved Coach Tomlin, there is no better head coach in football as a player to work for or as a coach to work for. I learned so much from him and the Rooney’s and the way they run their organization. For me that was a great learning experience.”
.@steelers Always seem to have a great O-Line. Let’s give credit to HOFer, #MikeMunchak for getting this group to play at a high level Watch RT, MattFeiler, a FA #Huskie, from #BloomsburgU. #BaldysBreakdowns pic.twitter.com/SRNpCeexHc
— Brian Baldinger (@BaldyNFL) November 8, 2018
With an offensive line featuring a wild card such as second-year guard/center Kendrick Green, Munchak’s expertise would perhaps be a recipe to unlocking the potential of the young offensive lineman. The jury is still out on exactly what position Green will play in 2022, however the team wasted no time in signing reinforcements via free agency in guard James Daniels and center Mason Cole, and re-signing one of their own in tackle Chukwuma Okorafor.
Obviously the team went a different route when they made former Panthers’ offensive line coach Pat Meyer the new offensive line boss. However, if he falters this upcoming season after the investments the team made, would it be out of the question to give Munchak a call? That’s a topic he went on to say he’d always welcome, be it in Pittsburgh or elsewhere.
“I love the game too much. I’d love to continue to work, especially offensive line coaches. It’s something I love doing, I love teaching,” Munchak said. “I love being around the players whether they be teenagers or in their twenties or thirties. It’s something I love doing so it’s something I would like to continue doing.”