I've always wanted to do a poll. And I figured now was as good a time as any. With the hiring of Mike Munchak, Steelers nation is excited. And they should be. But who among the players will benefit the most?
Entrenched Starters (Pouncey, DeCastro) - These guys are obvious choices. The idea of a HOF guard and experienced OLine coach instructing interior linemen who were first round picks just makes me giddy. Of course these guys were first round picks for a reason. One possible reason is that they already had a high level of technique and polish. If they are already playing near their ceiling, how much is left to be gained?
Productive but Tenuous Starters (Gilbert, Foster, Beachum) - Lack of physical tools (Beachum) or not enough technique (Gilbert)? What keeps these guys from being superstars? Let's hope Munchak finds out and brings out their full potential.
Mike Adams - Oh what might have been. That seemed to be the assessment of Mike Adams at the end of the year. A guy who has all the physical tools but has been injured and played poorly when healthy in his first two years (not to mention being stabbed). Can Mike Munchak unleash his talent and turn him in to the player we hoped he'd be?
Backups (Embernasty, Wallace, Velasco) - I have to admit, I am anxious to see what a guy like Munchak can do to harness the pure energy and passion (ok - downright meanness) of Embernasty and Wallace. Combining snarl with HOF technique could do wonders. Velasco's status is questionable going forward as Pouncey is coming back, Wallace played well enough, he's got that injury to deal with, and oh yeah - Munchak cut him last year (awkward?). Of course under Munchak's regime, Velasco rated out higher than Pouncey by PFF in 2012.
Le'Veon Bell - I must admit that I keep having this recurring dream. It's the first possession of the first Ravens game. The offensive line is Adams/Beachum, Foster, Pouncey, DeCastro, Gilbert. Tight ends are Spaeth and Adams/Beachum. Backfield is full with Wallace and Embernate flanking Le'Veon. Ben is split wide standing a foot from the sideline. No need for a tricky snap count. A simple "Go" will suffice. A direct snap to Bell. Within seconds there are piles of Ravens laying on their little Ravens asses with their little Ravens faces looking up through their little Ravens face-masks wondering what the heck just hit them. Then it's 2nd and 1 and we do it again. Rinse and repeat until TD. It's a nice dream.
Ben Roethlisberger - Think about this. Ben Roehtlisberger's jersey is spotless at the end of the game. Just picture it. Ahhh who are we kidding? That will never happen. Ben's just not a "spotless jersey" kind of guy. Maybe the guys can rub some dirt on his jersey before the game to make him feel more at home. In addition to that, imagine the stats he can rack up off play-action with a more consistent running game.
TE/Receving Corps - Speaking of running up big numbers off play action, how would you like to be a receiver that can take few seconds to make a few moves to get open? How about a TE that doesn't need to stay in and block every passing down just to avoid sacks? Better blocking up front means more time to throw and more receivers in the pattern. That causes havoc for defenses and big plays for receivers. Mmmmmm. Havoc.
Defense - Back in the Bettis years, I came to the realization that in many games, the Bus was our best defensive player because he allowed the Steelers to control the ball. It's going to be a lot easier for the defense to keep Flacco, Brees, Ryan, Rivers, Newton and Luck from throwing TD's in 2014 if they are sitting on their benches watching Le'Veon and the boys take eight minutes off the clock while going 80 yards on 10 rushes and 4 passes. You could also make an argument that if the O-Line stabilizes, we can quit taking lineman with our first or second round picks and spend those on defense.
I kept the Poll to the players (it was getting ridiculous), but an argument could certainly be made for some of the coaches and staff.
Shaun Sarrett - Much has been made about the potential that Mike Munchak may only be around for a year or two before being whisked away to another Head Coaching job. I personally believe that if Jim Caldwell, Romeo Crennel, Mike Mularkey, and even the Whiz can get second chances, that Munchak could too. Whether or not he does (or takes one if it comes), former O-Lineman and aspiring coach Shaun Sarrett will have time studying at the feet of a master. Whether it means a job here or somewhere else, that should help his career.
Todd Haley - Let's face it - nothing makes a coach look better than a great O-Line and a consistent running game. When you can simply line up and move the ball on the ground, it sure makes things a lot easier.
Mike Tomlin - I think of this as Tomlin's first true high profile hire. Sure Todd Haley was technically his, but I always got the feeling that was with a lot of pushing from the FO and the Rooney's. Munchak could be a signature hire for Coach T. The fact that Munchak wanted to work for him and his staff speaks volumes to me.
Dr. James P. Bradley - Dr. Bradley is the team's orthopedic surgeon. Over a 12 year career, Mike Munchak played in 85% of his team's games. That may not sound like a lot. But the Steelers line has lost a starter in the first week or two each of the last few years (which means we are already down to 80% if we have no other injuries). I don't even want to think about the training camp injuries that linger through the year both physically and in terms of preparedness. 85% availability sounds pretty good to me. One of the best ways to limit injuries (especially the friendly fire variety) is through better technique and working together. Dr. Bradley could see an easier workload.
So what say you? Who wins the most? Who did I miss?