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Adrian Klemm’s return to the NFL sparks questions with Steelers fans

The former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach has returned to the NFL.

NFL: AUG 07 Pittsburgh Steelers Training Camp Photo by Shelley Lipton/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers have been through a lot when it comes to their offensive line. While the players who make up the 5-man unit have changed drastically, so have the coaches who are tasked with being in charge of the unit.

Since the departure of Mike Munchak, here is the list of offensive line coaches the Steelers have employed:

  • Shaun Sarrett
  • Adrian Klemm
  • Chris Morgan (interim)
  • Pat Meyer

When you look at that list, you see how the offensive line has been through a lot of changes. Every offensive line coach has their own philosophies and player styles they like on their units. This has resulted in a lot of turnover in the past, and also some questionable draft decisions in the process.

Of the aforementioned offensive line coaches, none sparked more controversy than Adrian Klemm. The former NFL lineman left the Steelers during the season to take a job as an assistant coach for the University of Oregon. At the time, fans were told it was due to him wanting to return to college football and the recruitment process.

Well, you can imagine what Steelers fans were thinking when the news hit of Klemm joining Bill Belichick’s staff as the offensive line coach under Bill O’Brien. So, what exactly happened with Klemm in Pittsburgh? According to Mike Reiss of ESPN, Klemm and offensive coordinator Matt Canada didn’t see eye-to-eye, and so the team cut ties with Klemm.

One part of Klemm’s coaching resume sparks a question — he was the Steelers’ assistant offensive line coach from 2019 to 2020, then was promoted to O-line coach in 2021 before leaving the team with two games remaining in the that season. What happened? Word out of Pittsburgh is that Klemm and offensive coordinator Matt Canada weren’t an ideal fit, and head coach Mike Tomlin knew it wouldn’t carry into 2022, so he green-lit Klemm’s early departure. Tomlin publicly commented on Klemm at the time, praising his commitment while noting his desire to eliminate the perception of distractions.

Chalk this up to one of those situations where fans are left befuddled and confused as to how this could possibly happen. Klemm, who was an assistant with the team when Canada was on staff, was promoted with Canada from quarterbacks coach to offensive coordinator. There is no way the Steelers, and Canada, didn’t have a feel for what the other likes to do from an offensive schematic standpoint.

Nonetheless, it isn’t as if Klemm’s work isn’t still felt in the Steelers’ locker room. Since Klemm was on the Steelers staff, starting in 2019 as an assistant, the team has drafted the following offensive linemen:

Derwin Gray (7th Round)

Kevin Dotson (4th Round)

Kendrick Green (3rd Round)
Dan Moore Jr. (4th Round)

Most fans will point directly at the swing-and-miss of Green in the third round as a black eye on Klemm’s time as the main-man in Pittsburgh with the offensive line, but the selection of Moore in the 4th Round certainly should be noted.

Has Moore been the man who is the long term solution at left tackle? You’d be hard-pressed to find someone who agrees with that statement, but in his career, which has only been two years, he has played in, and started, 33 games. While Green might have been a swing-and-miss, most would have to argue Moore was at least a double.

With that said, Klemm now finds his way back to the NFL, and Steelers fans are left wondering what happened in Pittsburgh. Not that they wanted him retained, but more of the questions which constantly surround Mike Tomlin’s staff and the decisions made with it.

Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the Steelers as they prepare for the rest of the NFL offseason.