The Pittsburgh Steelers have finally hired an offensive line coach after their former coach, Sean Kugler left a month ago to become the head coach at UTEP. Jack Bicknell, Jr. is your new offensive line coach Steelers’ fans and my initial impression of the hire is clearly going to be a ‘wait and see’ approach.
On the surface though, I’m not real impressed.
Bicknell played offensive line for Boston College during the Doug Flutie years and then coached at the collegiate level. His NFL experience is all of four seasons worth and included three years as an assistant offensive line coach for the Giants followed by a year as OL coach in Kansas City.
I can’t argue much with his pedigree and his success running the ball in Kansas City last year. The Chiefs ranked fifth in the league in rushing despite going 2-14.
What concerns me is that his offensive line gave up 40 sacks in 2012. That’s just three more than Kugler’s line gave up last season, but I fear this hiring goes a step further and it isn’t what some of you want to hear.
A year ago as you might recall, Art Rooney II said that this team needed to get back to running the ball even though it was built for speed and not for power on offense. After this year’s over-whelming failure to consistently run the ball, this hiring signals to me that Rooney, Jr. is again hot to trot to pound the ball ahead for three yards and a could Heinz Field dirt.
Why does this front office insist on being what it is not? Do you need to be able to run the ball in the National Football League? Yes, yes you do, but not like you did in the 1970’s. You have to efficiently and effectively run it today and you need no further proof than the two Super Bowl combatants.
While both teams do effectively run the ball for the most part, they also spread the field consistently and still attack down-field with the passing game. Ben Roethlisberger is like any other quarterback who has ever played in the pros. He is a better QB when he has a decent running game, but that cannot happen with two-tight end, fullback formations. This allows the defense to have to cover less territory and plan for less in terms of possibility.
I realize I sound like a ‘Debbie Downer’ but I’m just reading the tea leaves for the moment. Obviously I hope Coach Bicknell takes this line to a completely new level, but I’m concerned that this is more about running for quantity rather than running for effectiveness.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 4pm ET talking Steelers.