Steelers hire former Titans coach Munchak to lead offensive line
By Alan Robinson
Published: Wednesday, Jan. 22, 2014, 10:15 p.m.
So the Steelers can land a high-profile free agent after all: Former Tennessee Titans coach Mike Munchak is joining them as their offensive line coach, according to a team source.
Munchak told the Steelers on Thursday he was coming, and the sides were finalizing a contract Thursday night, said the source, who had knowledge of the negotiations.
Munchak, fired Jan. 4 by Tennessee after refusing to fire his coordinators, was a highly regarded line coach with the Titans/Oilers from 1997-2010 and is expected to be an asset to a mostly young Steelers line.
Munchak, a former Penn State All-America lineman, also had an offer from the Texans to be their offensive line coach, but he preferred to return to his home state. He is a native of Scranton, where the street in front of Scranton High is named for him.
Munchak is the third Steelers offensive line coach in three seasons, succeeding Sean Kugler, who left last year to coach UTEP, and Jack Bicknell Jr., who lasted only one year on the job before being fired, in part because of some of the young linemen's struggles last season.
The Steelers now have four coaches with head coaching experience: coach Mike Tomlin, coordinators Dick LeBeau and Todd Haley and Munchak, who had a 22-26 record in three seasons with Tennessee. The Titans beat the Steelers each of the last two seasons.
Munchak interviewed for the Cleveland Browns and Detroit Lions head coaching jobs. Munchak takes over an offensive line that has proven guards in the steady Ramon Foster and the fast-developing David DeCastro, a three-time Pro Bowl center in Maurkice Pouncey, but questions at tackle.
Kelvin Beachum took over at left tackle one-quarter of the way through the season after Mike Adams lost the job, but he is undersized for a full-time left tackle. Right tackle Marcus Gilbert was the lowest-rated starter along the line, yet the Steelers still do not consider replacing him with Adams, a former second-round pick who settled into a backup role after being benched.
Pouncey is recovering from a serious knee injury that occurred only eight plays into the season.
Munchak is a Pro Football Hall of Fame lineman and nine-time Pro Bowl pick who played for the Oilers from 1982-93. He had been a part of the Oilers/Titans organization as a player, offensive assistant, assistant coach or head coach for 31 years.
While many former head coaches return to coordinators' jobs, Munchak never has been an offensive coordinator, and he told the team he was comfortable returning to being a position coach.
Munchak, who turns 54 in March, taught the Titans' line the zone-blocking scheme the Steelers attempted to install last season, only to abandon after Pouncey was hurt. Fernando Velasco, who replaced Pouncey as the Steelers' center last season, was one of his starters in Tennessee.
Alan Robinson is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. Reach him at email@example.com or via Twitter @arobinson_Trib.
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