Steelers Name Munchak OL Coach

Mike Tomlin has hired 15 assistant coaches since taking the Steelers' head coaching job in 2007. None have been more welcomed than new offensive line coach Mike Munchak.

Munchak told the Houston Texans on Wednesday that he was instead "going home," as veteran Houston Chronicle reporter John McClain tweeted Wednesday night.

Munchak, of course, was an All-America at Penn State before embarking on a 32-year relationship with the Houston/Tennessee Oilers/Titans.

He grew up in Scranton as a Steelers fan, but, once the Oilers drafted him eighth in 1982, he put that aside -- until now.

Munchak, 53, played left guard for the Oilers for 12 seasons. He was named to nine Pro Bowls and was twice named first-team All-Pro. He was voted to the 1980s All-Decade team and was elected to the Hall of Fame in 2001. The Titans have since retired his No. 63 jersey.

Munchak was hired as an Oilers assistant in 1994 and was put in charge of the Oilers' offensive line in 1997, the year the franchise moved to Tennessee.

Eddie George was named to his first Pro Bowl that season as the Oilers rushed for 4.5 yards per carry behind a veteran line that included Bruce Matthews, Brad Hopkins and Mark Stepnoski.

The Titans reached the Super Bowl two years later as fifth-year quarterback Steve McNair enjoyed his best season behind a line that allowed only 25 sacks.

In 2002, that sack total dipped to 21 to come within one of the league leader for fewest allowed. By that time, the Titans had only two OL holdovers from the Super Bowl season as Munchak began drawing attention for his coaching prowess.

The line was completely rebuilt by 2008, when the Titans not only rushed for 4.3 yards per carry but was the NFL co-leader with only 12 sacks allowed.

Kevin Mawae and Michael Roos were the anchors as 2008 first-team All-Pros in front of rookie rusher Chris Johnson, who then helped the Titans lead the league in 2009 with a 5.2 yards-per-carry average.

The Titans allowed only 15 sacks in that 2009 season as Munchak began drawing the attention of upper management. He was named head coach in 2011, but was fired earlier this month after a three-year record of 22-26.

Munchak drew interest from Penn State, the Cleveland Browns and the Detroit Lions for head-coaching jobs, but as those teams began filling those spots Munchak opted to return to his home state to coach a Steelers line that has struggled up front since its transition from Super Bowl 40 and linemen Marvel Smith, Alan Faneca and Jeff Hartings.

Hartings retired after the 2006 season, while Faneca and a hobbled Smith left after 2007.

Tomlin tried three line coaches before Munchak, but due to injuries and a lack of talent the line still struggled to open holes for the running game and protect QB Ben Roethlisberger.

Last season, the Steelers finished 29th in the league with a 3.5 yards-per-carry average, and allowed 43 sacks.

While Roethlisberger was sacked only 11 times in the second half of the season, the credit belonged to the quarterback, who was charged with increasing the tempo and calling the plays at the line of scrimmage, and the Steelers fired Jack Bicknell Jr.

The Steelers developed much-needed depth on the line this past season, and will also welcome back center Maurkice Pouncey, who blew out his right knee on the first possession of the season -- against Munchak's Titans.

Munchak will also be charged with developing 2012 second-round tackle Mike Adams, who opened last season at left tackle, only to be dropped to the scout team by the fifth week.

The Steelers are expected to announce the hiring today.

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