Steelers May Have No Equal When It Comes To Coaching
There isn’t a better blend of coaching in any of other NFL locker room than in Pittsburgh.
At the top of the coaching hierarchy, Mike Tomlin took over for long tenured coach Bill Cowher and led the Steelers to a Super Bowl in his second year in charge; the same amount of Super Bowls former coach Cowher won in 15 years coaching in Pittsburgh. Tomlin gained the respect of the franchise and specifically the players after delivering a Super Bowl almost immediately after taking the helm.
Tomlin bolsters a no-nonsense, take-accountability-for-your-actions style of coaching. His youth allows him to be perceived as an enforcer rather than an old nitpicker as fellow coach Tom Coughlin (New York Giants) has been perceived for decades. The significance in this trait is in seven years, he’s yet to lose his locker room to a stale rigid message. His voice and the message he delivers to his players remains fresh. Instead of giving up on their coach, the team responded to an 0-4 start by going 8-4 in the last 12 games of 2013.
Dick LeBeau has garnered much respect in 40 years of coaching as a defensive mastermind. In nine years as the Steelers defensive coordinator, he’s choreographed units known for toughness and making spectacular plays. Nearly every year since LeBeau’s arrival in Pittsburgh, the Steelers have ranked high in turnover and points allowed categories. This year, his personnel has been retooled and, with a younger and faster cast of players, he’ll use their versatilities to assemble another solid unit. Players respect his acumen as the architect of a complex 3-4 defense and buy into the system he employs with conviction.
Offensive line coach Mike Munchak brings solid coaching and Hall of Fame experience to the locker room. The Steelers have a young offensive line that needs the guidance of a proven coach in assembling a solid unit. Munchak was the architect of the offensive line that paved the way for Eddie George and former 2,000-yard rusher Chris Johnson when he was a league’s last such runner in 2009 for the Tennessee Titans.
Munchak’s Hall of Fame experience dates back to his days as a lineman for the Houston Oilers. The value he brings to the players’ development is crucial. He’s a reputable teacher with intricate knowledge of the position. His expertise couldn’t have come at a better time for Pittsburgh, which allowed 42 sacks in 2013.
Joey Porter was hired to the coaching staff as a defensive assistant coach in February. Former Steelers (and current Arizona Cardinals) LB Larry Foote has already predicted Porter will be a head coach one day. This is Porter’s first NFL coaching job, but he already has the respect of his players. He’s made it his responsibility to develop LB Jarvis Jones into a standout and leader in the locker room similar to his role in the Steelers’ locker room less than a decade ago.
Only three years removed from the game, Porter still carries the enthusiasm he played with on Sundays. The players can rally around his demeanor while learning from him, even though he has little experience in the technicalities of coaching he’s eager to teach. As a former player of the same organization he represented in four Pro Bowls, his recent knowledge of the game will be valuable to players learning the system. Rookie LB Ryan Shazier will also take direction along with Jones in becoming a complete player on the field deserving of Pro Bowl honors given the passion Porter exhibits.
The coaching staff in Pittsburgh has a great blend of established teachers and passionate motivators to communicate with players on all levels. Some coaches will be able to flash their Super Bowl rings while others will simply instill determination through passion. If a player on the roster cannot match the desire of the coaches, Tomlin won’t have a problem showing them the door.