New-school hire Omar Khan has some old-school philosophies. Taking a page out of the Bill Parcells playbook, Khan’s football foundation is built in the trenches. Appearing on The Jerry Hughes Podcast, Khan talked about the keys to roster-building.
“Without divulging too much of my philosophy, I’d say, you always want to get the guys that protect the quarterback and get the guys that get to the quarterback,” he told the podcast.
As Parcells used to say, you draft first rounders who fit into one of three buckets: a quarterback, a guy who protects the quarterback, and a guy who gets after the opposing quarterback. Pittsburgh hopefully has done that first one by taking Pitt’s Kenny Pickett 20th overall in this year’s draft. Now Khan will help work on the rest.
Of course, the Steelers have players who fit those other pieces. They upgraded their interior offensive line this offseason with the signings of James Daniels and Mason Cole. Daniels is likely to be this team’s starting right guard, with Cole probably starting at center. Add in the growth, development, and health of guys like Dan Moore Jr. and Kevin Dotson, and the Steelers’ O-line should be in better shape than it was a year ago, when they were among the league’s worst units. It’s doubtful Pittsburgh becomes a top ten group in 2022 but even being average would feel like a massive step in the right direction.
Pittsburgh’s defense has been as good as any in getting after the quarterback, leading the league in sacks each of the last five seasons. T.J. Watt is among the NFL’s most ferocious pass rushers, tying the single-season sack record last year with 22.5 QB takedowns. Cam Heyward is still playing his best football, while Alex Highsmith has steadily improved and could flirt with double-digit sacks this year. The return of Stephon Tuitt would also be a huge boost for Pittsburgh’s defense, pass rush, and run defense.
As we wrote about earlier Monday, assistant GM Andy Weidl seems to share a similar philosophy with an affinity for drafting freaky athletic big men and routinely rolling the dice on Day 3 pass rushers.