LATROBE, Pa. -- His credentials as an offensive line coach are such that Mike Munchak could have easily told his players the first time he met with them as a group they need to do it his way.
No questions asked.
That Munchak has taken pretty much the opposite approach is one reason why left guard Ramon Foster recently said, “He’s golden with me.”
“The way he comes at you is respectful and makes you want to work for the guy,” Foster said.
Added Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey, “I can’t praise him enough the things he brings to us. He’s the man.”
Munchak, who joined Mike Tomlin’s staff last January, would shrug off such talk -- just as he did in June when asked if he was the Steelers’ most significant offseason addition.
But Munchak, a Pro Football Hall of Fame guard and highly-regarded line coach, clearly has a presence, even when he is just leading his players through drills before the start of practice. That presence, his résumé and his love of teaching form the foundation of a coaching style that is noticeably lacking in volume.
“Our group is like a family. Just like my children I can look at you and I know what you did wrong and you know what you did wrong and we’re good with that,” Munchak said on why he doesn’t go ballistic when one of his players makes a mistakes. “I don’t need to scream so everyone can see that I’m really coaching my guys up. Sometimes I find that coaches will go nuts on a guy and you’ll look at the tape and you were wrong as a coach. The perception is maybe the media watching practice is going that guy’s getting chewed out and the next day I realize, geez, I was wrong. I think you have to be careful.”
That is not to say Munchak is too buddy-buddy with his players or soft on them. He just doesn’t see the point in embarrassing players to get his point across.
“Some guys needs a push, and we’ve had some good talks in our meeting room. We’ve had talks on the field. They get the point,” Munchak said. “That’s how I liked to be coached when I played, and I’ve got to do what’s most comfortable for me because players can tell if ‘I’m real or not.”
That authenticity as well as Munchak’s philosophical approach to coaching is what has really endeared him to his players.
“I’m big on explaining to them the whole picture,” said Munchak, who coached the Oilers/Titans offensive line from 1997-2010 and spent the previous season as the Titans’ head coach. “Here’s what we’re doing, here’s the concept, this is what we believe in, and then they believe in it and they understand the concepts so they can apply it. They appreciate that and they want to see accountability for all of them, not just ‘Hey, Pounce you get a free ride because you guys have been here.’ They see everyone’s getting treated the same way that way.”