‘It Doesn’t Really Matter, The Titles Part:’ Mike Munchak Explains How Pittsburgh’s Offensive Staff Works
Much to the bane of Pittsburgh Steelers fans, the Steelers employ one of the smallest coaching staffs in the NFL. While some teams employ running and passing game coordinators, Pittsburgh does not. Former Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak joined The Cook & Joe Show on 93.7 The Fan and revealed in Pittsburgh the offensive line coach took the lead in the run game when he was there.
“I think it’s a group effort generally in which it was when I was at Pittsburgh, and usually the line coach is gonna take the lead a little bit on the direction you’re going with the plan for the week with the [offensive] coordinator,” said Munchak. “I think it’s like anything, if you have a good group that knows how to work well together, it doesn’t really matter, the titles part. Ultimately it’s about how you want to go. It’s really the coordinator’s direction and how he wants to handle it. And a lot of times he’ll give a lot of it to the line coach, which I had, which Todd [Haley] did and Randy [Fichtner] did when I was in Pittsburgh.”
According to Munchak during his time in Pittsburgh, a lot of the game planning was a group effort to keep everyone in the know. Despite not having a huge staff it wasn’t really necessary as everyone knew their role and interacted with the entire staff so they each knew the game plan.
Munchak said that while the entire offensive staff was tasked with coming up with the run game, it mostly fell in the lap of the offensive line coach and tight ends coach.
“We were able to put it together and obviously then everyone added to it and dressed it up with formations and things like that. But usually, it lies generally, for the most part in the line coach’s lap with help from the tight end coach and the other assistants.”
While Pittsburgh has been criticized in the past for not having a run game coordinator or a passing game coordinator, Munchak said that isn’t all too rare. In fact, he said in most places he has coached that the case is many people combine in creating the game plan in the run or pass game but someone is just given the title so people know who is “ultimately in charge.”
It seems that having extra position names isn’t necessary when the unit is running well. When Munchak was coaching in Pittsburgh the team had one of the best offenses in the NFL and because of that, there were never really any complaints about the size of the staff. In recent years the Steelers offense has struggled and when seeing a team like the San Francisco 49ers have a great offense and employ running and passing game coordinators people think the Steelers are not putting forth a full effort to compete for Super Bowls.
But from what Munchak said, it seems that these titles are almost just titles for the sake of having titles as the entire offense works on designing the run game. And in fact, it makes the most sense for the offensive line coach to be in charge of the run game because he knows what his unit is capable of the best out of everyone.
For what it’s worth, the run game started to get a lot better towards the end of last season as the offensive line improved and running back Najee Harris got healthy. Pittsburgh struggled with replacing Munchak as an offensive line coach and in leading the run game planning. But now it seems like new offensive line coach Pat Meyer is doing a good job in both those categories. If the way the team operates in game planning under offensive coordinator Matt Canada is the same as under Todd Haley and Randy Fichtner, the run game is in good hands with Meyer.