Teaching WRs A Mann's Job

Mike Prisuta juxtaposes the young-money wide receivers with their new old-school coach, Richard Mann, in his latest.

There are a lot of relationships being established this summer at St. Vincent College.

My absolute favorite is the introduction of "Young Money" to "Old School."

"Young Money" profoundly underachieved last season given the high bar of expectation that had been set for young receivers Mike Wallace, Antonio Brown and Emmanuel Sanders.

"Old School" Richard Mann has been brought in to clean up the mess.

The new wide receivers coach is beginning his 29th season in the NFL. That's longer than Brown (25) or Sanders (26) have been alive.

Mann is Marty Schottenheimer-Cleveland Browns Old School.

Mann is Colts Old School (that would be the Baltimore Colts, his first NFL stop in 1982).

Mann is Aliquippa High School Old School (Class of '65).

As Mike Tomlin might say, Mann is a been-there, done-that kind of guy.

And as that Mann has some specific ideas as to how football should be coached in general and how wide receivers should be coached in particular, given the current state of the game. Give a listen:

"The players have changed," Mann started. "And I think coaches have changed. Young coaches aren't like the old coaches. They don't seem to have the same mentality when it comes to fundamentals, technique-type things. They don't seem to be apt on that; it's all about scheme. They try to beat you with scheme. I'm a fundamental guy, a technique guy and that's what we're teaching here.

"I think the guys are a little bit more too-much-too-fast now. They don't go through the process of learning how to do. They just want to beat you with scheme because that's what they've been taught in college. That's what coaches do now, they try to outsmart everybody. I'm a guy that's going to work on those bags, work on footwork, work on how to come out of breaks, work on how to get separation, and that stuff ain't in a book.

"A lot of the young coaches, they don't know it. Egos are a lot bigger, not so much just with the players coming out nowadays. I think the coaches are like that, the young coaches, they get too much too fast. That's why there's so much turnover in the National Football League."

When the position of Steelers wide receivers coach turned over due to Scottie Montgomery's departure for Duke, Tomlin decided to go "Old School" in finding Montgomery's replacement.

Tomlin had worked with Mann in Tampa, and lured Mann out of "semi-retirement" in an effort to see if more could be gleaned from what was left of "Young Money" in the wake of Wallace's free-agent exit.

Bill Cowher had interviewed Mann a few years back but when that didn't work out Mann suspected the chance to coach with his hometown team wouldn't ever materialize. So he's understandably excited and energized here at St. Vincent.

"I looked at the tape (from last season)," Mann maintained. "We came in fresh. I'm different, probably, than the coach that was here in the past. I'm sure some of the things that I'm teaching he didn't teach, and basically it's fundamentals and techniques.

"I came through the ranks, so anything that I teach, it works. There are a lot of ways to skin a cat. I have my way and that's what we'll use.

"I think we have enough speed, that's where technique and fundamentals come in. You give me a guy that has good speed and great quickness, I'm good. I have a couple like that, I think. Good speed and great quickness are sometimes better than an all-out burner. You give me a guy that's got the talent; I'll teach him how to run the routes."


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