Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak hasn't altered terminology, hammers on fundamentals for offensive line

Don McPeak-USA TODAY Sports

It's not about the organizational package of the movements being called in the Steelers' play sequences. It's simply about teaching foot spacing, hand placement and other minutiae associated with successful offensive lines.

Steelers offensive coordinator Todd Haley had to instruct the Steelers' offense, quarterback Ben Roethlisberger in particular, to refer to "tomatoes" as "TomAHtoes" in 2012.

The transition appeared to be an uncomfortable one.

"That one's a little harder than the Miami ones I was doing," Roethlisberger told Post Gazette reporter Ed Bouchette in 2012. "I joke and say that my final paper for Miami on Tibet was a lot easier than the Rosetta Stone we're doing now here."

That may not be the exact reason why the Steelers' new offensive line coach Mike Munchak isn't changing much terminology, according to Steelers left tackle Kelvin Beachum.

"The terminology is somewhat staying the same," Beachum told Tribune Review reporter Alan Robinson. "He is just tweaking a thing here or there."

Haley's relationship with Roethlisberger will be a point of lore around Pittsburgh for years to come, but it appears Munchak and the Steelers offensive linemen are getting along fine and dandy from the start. Along with re-implementing an outside zone concept - one that was shelved for the most part when Maurkice Pouncey went down with injury in Week 1 - Munchak's focus, as his reputation also suggests, is on fundamentals and in detail.

Hand placement, footwork, the minutiae of the art of blocking that separates itself from physical talent. The process of hammering on those fundamentals also creates cohesion and trust among the linemen. Many associated with the game will also tell you a unified and fundamentally strong offensive line is the foundation of any strong team.

So perhaps in that way, Munchak isn't changing the terminology as far as Xs and Os, but he's overhauling the culture of an offensive line group that's been speaking different languages under different offensive line coaches for the last two seasons.

Beachum, right guard David DeCastro and back-up Mike Adams don't know what it's like to have the same offensive line coach from one year to another. The Steelers have changed theirs each season since 2012. That affects the rest of the group as well.

If the langauge Munchak truly cares about is the most basic and simple one - the fundamental langauge - the group will be fine. Maybe the plan is to implement change over the course of time, but not putting the cart in front of the horse and throwing a bunch of stuff at them before they've mastered the basics.

At the very least, there are no Rosetta Stone comparisons. That has to be a good thing.

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