The Pittsburgh Steelers filled the first void in the coaching staff today.
...Well, sort of.
Okay, fine! They hired a guy. Not so sure about the whole filling the void in the coaching staff thing though.
Mike Tomlin hired former Buffalo Bills offensive line coach Sean Kugler today to do the same job he was recently fired from for many of the same reasons Larry Zierlein was removed last week in Pittsburgh.
Tell me you still want to debate the fact that Tomlin isn’t a sucker for a great interview.
First Bruce Arians keeps his job, and now he hires a guy that has a résumé that closely resembles Swiss cheese.
I mean, sure the guy had a great season at Boise State before leaving to coach with the Bills, but developing one oversized offensive tackle into a first round pick doesn’t a great offensive line coach make.
So far in his NFL career he has spent five years with the Detroit Lions during the Matt Millen regime and two more with the Buffalo Bills. It might be hard to find two franchises with worse offensive line play during that span of time.
Last season the Bills gave up 46 sacks and 103 quarterback hits. Not exactly the Steelers' strength either—just ask Ben Roethlisberger.
In Kugler’s defense, he was working with one of the most injury-plagued units in all of football and found himself starting multiple rookies and waiver signees during the season because of it. Yet one has to sit back and ponder the decision Tomlin has made here.
Kugler’s unit in Buffalo finished the season averaging 4.4 yards a carry, slightly better than the Steelers' minuscule 4.1-yard rushing average. Sure it’s a nice feat considering the tough job he had in Buffalo, but let's not give him coach of the year honors too early.
Ryan Clady, the previously mentioned oversized offensive tackle at Boise State, was not exactly his prodigy. Kugler was there for one season in Boise, and it happened to be Clady’s last. Clady was already an established star-quality player before Kugler ever piped a whistle at him.
After redshirting his freshman season, Clady earned the starting right tackle position the following season, receiving second and third team All-American honors. The following season he made the switch to left tackle, where he was named a second team All-American and first team All-Conference.
His third year as a starter saw him earn a first team All-American nomination, and eventually he became the first round pick (12th overall) of the Denver Broncos in 2008.
The Steelers needed a veteran leader with a proven track record and a résumé that demanded instant respect from the lackluster group he was about to inherit in Pittsburgh. What they needed was an Anthony Munoz type that most guys instantly sit up straight around and hang on his every word.
With a group that has been lethargic and has underachieved, the best way to expect and demand more from them is to give them something to aspire to and perform for. Having an Anthony Munoz on the practice field would have done just that.
That type of presence would have given the guys that are underperforming a measuring stick for greatness, while giving one of the best technical blockers the game has ever seen a chance to impart something great into the lives of the young players the franchise had such high hopes for last year.
There is no saying that Munoz would have taken the job, but there are a few other names out there right now that would have filled the role just as well. Names like Bruce Matthews have come up in recent coaching talks, and his style and personality are a perfect fit in the city of Pittsburgh.
While no one (including me) wishes Sean Kugler anything but great success in his new endeavors in Pittsburgh, there should be more than a few people scratching their heads over the choice Mike Tomlin made here.
With the number of issues surrounding the Steelers on the offensive line, this should have been one of the few times the Steelers went after a name rather than just a quality character guy with good intentions. Only time will tell the story.