Replacing a legend is never easy, and for Karl Dunbar, taking over the defensive line from John Mitchell was not something which he took lightly.
In fact, it was something he asked Mike Tomlin after he was offered the position with the Pittsburgh Steelers. “He’s my guy,” Dunbar told Kevin Gorman of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “He’s the first person I asked Mike about when Mike offered me the job. …
”Our relationship, I thought, was pivotal for me to come back to Pittsburgh and make a smooth transition. ‘Mitch’ has been here 25 years. I’m trying not to do anything to tarnish his legacy at all.”
Needless to say, Dunbar’s return to the Steelers, who drafted him in the 1990 NFL Draft, has him excited to work with players like Stephon Tuitt, Javon Hargrave, Cameron Heyward and even one of his players following him from Alabama, Joshua Frazier.
“I can sleep good at night,” Dunbar said. “You have some guys who have been in some wars.”
With Mitchell turning strictly into an Assistant Coach, Dunbar brings in a new outlook to coaching defensive line technique, and some have called him a ‘millennial’ coach after his work at the collegiate level. But Dunbar doesn’t see it this way.
“I don’t think I’m a millennial coach,” Dunbar said. “I think I’m hard-nosed and believe in paying attention to detail and teaching guys how to do things. That’s the thing, as far as when you talk about relationships these days, that’s the benefit.”
As Frazier puts it, it is all about the “tiny details” when it comes to Dunbar’s approach to coaching. What exactly does he mean by this? Dunbar says his philosophy stems from “hips, hands and feet”.
“When you bring your hips, that’s how you generate power,” Frazier said. “When you strike your hands from the ground to the man and wherever the O-line goes, you go. When it’s play-action, you’ve got to flip your hips, turn and pass rush.”
While Mitchell isn’t completely out of the loop now, Dunbar is excited to put his stamp on the Steelers’ defensive line group.
“It’s been fun getting to meet these guys and seeing what kind of athleticism they have and how they relate and the rapport in that group,” Dunbar said. “Sometimes, coaching defensive linemen is like herding cats because everybody has their own thing they want to do. When you can get them on the same page, it’s a beautiful thing.”
It will be intriguing how Dunbar puts his stamp on the defensive line in 2018. Stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black-and-gold as they prepare for training camp.