clock menu more-arrow no yes

Filed under:

Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak reminds team he was 2-1 vs. Pittsburgh when he was with the Titans

New, comments

Munchak spent the better part of 30 years with the franchise now known as the Tennessee Titans. The last two of those years were seasons in which the underdog Titans defeated the Steelers. He has been reminding the Steelers of that this week.

If you buy something from an SB Nation link, Vox Media may earn a commission. See our ethics statement.

Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

Players and coaches will often taunt each other over a win by one's alma mater over another's. But it isn't often when a coach reminds his players of their lack of success against him at the pro level.

That's what ex-Titans head coach and current Steelers offensive line coach Mike Munchak is doing this week with the Steelers.

Munchak's Titans were 2-1 against the Steelers during his three-year tenure with the team as head coach. Munchak spent three decades with the team serving as a player, an assistant coach and head coach but that came to an end this off-season when he reportedly refused to make changes on his coaching staff. That stance led to his termination.

The Steelers gladly scooped up their former tormentor, who delivered crushing losses to the Black-and-Gold in each of the last two seasons. Those losses could be partially to blame for the Steelers' missing the post-season. A 26-23 loss on a Thursday Night game in Nashville was something of a surprise, but the Steelers' 16-9 loss in the season and home opener of last year was particularly painful. It set the tone for what would be one of the worst starts in franchise history.

The Steelers' offensive line had perhaps its best day ever in pass protection in Week 8 vs. the Colts.

Not that Munchak minded at the time.

"I try to remind these guys (the Steelers) that we were 2-1," Munchak told Ralph N. Paulk of the Tribune Review after Friday's practice. "I had a chance to work with the Titans organization for a long time. It was a family atmosphere for me, and I miss the people."

After Munchak's termination, a rough up-and-down season followed in which the Titans were as many as two games above .500 and as far behind as four games below .500. They finished at 7-9. Ownership wanted Munchak to make some changes on his staff but he refused, thus leading to all of them being terminated anyway.

The Titans then hired Chargers offensive coordinator (and former Cardinals head coach and Steelers offensive coordinator) Ken Whisenhunt to replace him and the Steelers gladly swooped in to grab Munchak - regarded as one of the game's best offensive line coaches.

His success has been apparent this season. The Steelers are getting vastly different results from their young offensive line this season than during the last two seasons under former coaches Sean Kugler and Jack Bicknell Jr. According to Pro Football Focus, left tackle Kelvin Beachum has surrendered 14 total pressures (sacks, hits and hurries) in 413 pass attempts, good for a pass-blocking efficiency of 97 percent - the fifth-highest mark among tackles in the NFL. Maurkice Pouncey is fifth among centers at 98.1. As a whole, the Steelers grade out sixth overall at 83.5.

Their run blocking has struggled a bit lately after a hot start, and that should be an area of focus for the Steelers in this game. The Titans are among the worst defenses in the NFL against the run. Apparently, it's all lined up for Munchak in returning to the field he helped build and displaying an improved offensive line that can exert its will on the Titans.

Not that Munchak is into this added drama.

"Obviously, we'd love to get a win for him," DeCastro said, quoted by Paulk. "He's good about hiding his emotions but we know it's an extra incentive for him going back home."

To buy tickets, visit the NFL Ticket Exchange.