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Thread: Tunch Ilkin on Munchak

  1. #1

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    Tunch Ilkin on Munchak

    As expected, all positive. I'm excited to see what Munchak can do with this group.

    Tunch Ilkin has known Mike Munchak for almost 30 years, and he has studied him as both an NFL player and as an offensive line coach in the league. Ilkin played tackle for the Steelers when Munchak was a guard for the Houston Oilers, and while they never lined up against each other on the field, their teams did face each other at least twice a season.

    Ilkin now is the color analyst on the Steelers Radio Network, and Munchak is the team’s new offensive line coach. Ilkin took some time recently to talk to Bob Labriola and offer his opinion on the Steelers hiring Munchak.

    I like the man. Mike Munchak is an old friend, a guy I first met at the Pro Bowl after the 1988 season. I was instantly impressed with his work ethic, a perennial All-Pro who just kept working on his craft. We traded helmets at that Pro Bowl, and I always kept his on a shelf in my home.

    My first chance to see him actually coach came when we did some instructional videos for the National Football League Youth Fund. Munch was one of our technicians, and he did a clinic where we videotaped him working with the kids. He’s a tremendous teacher, a fundamental teacher. He goes by the numbers. He has a great eye to see when guys are doing it right, and when they’re not doing it right he has a great eye to tell why they’re not doing it right.

    And he was a physical, nasty, tough guy, and you love those kinds of guys on the offensive line. He would get after it, wouldn’t back down, just one of those tough guys you would love to have on your side.

    When Mike played, the Houston Oilers were a run-and-shoot offense, and they ran a lot of draws, a lot of delays. The Oilers never really ran much outside-zone. When Mike became a coach, and I watched his offensive lines with the Oilers, and then the franchise moved to Tennessee and became the Titans, those offensive lines could run the outside-zone and they also could come off the line and straight-block. They could do both, and if you can do both you really have something.

    If you look back at the Titans’ offensive lines over the past how many years, they’re a nasty bunch. They’ll get after it, and that’s one of the things you’re going to see from this Steelers offensive line. The guys are going to be even a little bit nastier than they’ve been in the past, because that’s the way Mike is.

    He’ll make Marcus more consistent, because if I was Marcus I’d want to improve upon my consistency. A guy like Munchak is a coach who will teach guys to pay attention to detail, to hone their craft to the next level. He’ll develop that part in these players.

    When you play for a guy like Mike Munchak, you’re going to want to be a professional, because that’s the way he went about his business as a player and it’s the way he goes about his business as a coach. That’s the area where Mike will help Marcus really grow: being more consistent and taking his craft to the next level.

    Munchak and DeCastro are both right guards, and I think he’ll teach DeCastro the nuances of the game that a young player doesn’t have just yet. Not only was Munchak a physical, tough player, but he also was a very smart player. Munchak’s wealth of experience will have a tremendous effect on David.

    Munchak will teach [URL=""]Mike Adams[/URL] how to be a pro. He’ll teach Adams how to prepare. He’ll teach Mike Adams how to get more out of himself than maybe even Mike Adams would think was there.

    In many ways he’ll teach Beachum the same kinds of things he’ll teach DeCastro – nuances of the game. One of the other things Mike can do for Beachum is that he’s coached a couple of Pro Bowl tackles, and so what Munch will be able to do is contrast Beachum’s play with some of the Pro Bowl tackles he has coached. Munchak will be able to point out, this is what Brad Hopkins did well, or this is what David Stewart did well. Mike will be able to bring his experience of coaching other guys who have played that position, and then use it to bring Kelvin along.

    Gee, I don’t know. Pouncey is such a tremendous athlete, a much better athlete than Mike ever was. (Laughs). All joking aside, Pouncey is all of the things you want as long as he stays healthy.

    I believe it’s hugely significant. What Mike Munchak brings, there is no way to put a value on that. He was a Hall of Fame player who was very gifted, and he was also an over-achiever. That experience can translate well to younger players.

    If you were a great player in this league but you weren’t an over-achiever or a great technician, sometimes it’s hard to reach players. But because of the kind of player Mike was, he’ll be able to teach these guys what they need to know, and the guys will respond to him because when he speaks he has tremendous credibility.

    All they need to do is go back and watch some old video of Mike Munchak as a player. That will show them real fast who he is.

  2. #2

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    Tunch Ilkin says Mike Munchak will teach Mike Adams how to prepare

    By Neal Coolong on Feb 17 2014

    The former Steelers offensive lineman turned color commentator reveals loads of optimism in the hiring of offensive line coach Mike Munchak.

    Preparation is key.

    Teaching preparation is coaching. Steelers radio color broadcaster Tunch Ilkin revealed those essentials in a interview regarding offensive line coach Mike Munchak.

    Ilkin spoke on what Munchak will bring each key member of the Steelers offensive line, including embattled tackle Mike Adams.

    Munchak will teach Mike Adams how to be a pro. He’ll teach Adams how to prepare. He’ll teach Mike Adams how to get more out of himself than maybe even Mike Adams would think was there.

    Adams, the physically gifted but struggling left tackle, can be seen as a critical piece of the Steelers' future plans. Another season of slow development can put a rebuilding offensive line off schedule, but the combination of Adams' physical tools and Munchak's proven teaching ability could be like the team getting a high-level return on a current draft pick.

    Internal development of younger players is the simplest and most cost-effective way to build a championship caliber team. Adams is clearly the better athlete between himself and Kelvin Beachum, the fellow 2012 draft pick who took over for Adams at left tackle all season. Without yearning to replace Beachum in the lineup (he did an outstanding job, all things considered), it would still be wise of the Steelers to work to Adams' potential, and look to use Beachum in the way they began 2013; as a versatile multi-position lineman.

    If Munchak can indeed bring the most out of Adams, starting him at left tackle and gaining a solid, if not outstanding starter, increases their depth on the offensive line, giving them more options in the draft and free agency.

    It's the first domino to fall in a long chain reaction that would result in a much deeper team than Steelers fans have seen over the last two years.


  3. #3

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    Tunch likes Munch...sounds good to me.

  4. #4

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    I can't believe I'm falling for it again...but I'm actually excited about what Munch can do with Adams. Ugh.

  5. #5
    Hall of Famer

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    Please install the tough guy image ASAP and maybe it will spread to the rest of the team. Confidence.
    Crush your enemies, see them driven before you, hear the lamentations of their women.

  6. #6

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    Quote Originally Posted by Discipline of Steel View Post
    Please install the tough guy image ASAP and maybe it will spread to the rest of the team. Confidence.
    That would be awesome,....... if genuine toughness had everything to do with image.

  7. #7

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    Mike Munchak could be Steelers' biggest addition of 2014

    By Ray Fittipaldo / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

    The Steelers have tried to improve their offensive line by addressing it through the draft. They have tried to improve it by implementing a new offensive scheme with a new offensive coordinator. And they have tried, over and over again during Mike Tomlin's tenure as head coach, to improve it by changing the position coach.

    When Tomlin hired Mike Munchak last month to be his fourth offensive line coach he might have finally found the man to fix a problem that has festered for years.

    Munchak had a Hall of Fame career as an offensive lineman for the Houston Oilers, and he has a proven track record as an offensive line coach, having spent 17 years in that job for the Oilers and Tennessee Titans before ascending to head coach in 2011.

    In addition, Munchak has experience coaching the zone blocking scheme that the Steelers would like to implement with running back Le'Veon Bell and the athletic linemen they have accumulated through the draft in recent years.

    One of the reasons Tomlin dismissed Jack Bicknell after last season was the linemen had a hard time picking up the scheme from him and abandoned it early in the season after game planning all spring and summer to have it as a staple.

    Zone blocking, which assigns an area for linemen to block rather than specific players, is not new, but it will be for the Steelers.

    Munchak's line in Tennessee helped running back Chris Johnson rush for 2,000 yards in 2009. The Titans as a team rushed for 2,592 in 2009.

    The Steelers, by contrast, haven't rushed for 2,000 yards since 2007, and they ranked 27th in the NFL in rushing offense last season with 1,383 yards, the fewest for the team since 1966 (when there was a 14-game schedule).

    The Titans also protected their quarterbacks well under Munchak's watch. In the past five years, Tennessee gave up an average of 28 sacks per season. The Steelers, in the same five-year span, gave up an average of 43.

    Despite the poor rushing statistics and the troubles the Steelers have had protecting Ben Roethlisberger over the years, the cupboard is not bare for Munchak. The Steelers invested two first- and two second-round draft choices in offensive linemen from 2010-2012.

    But the best laid plans of the front office have not materialized. Those four linemen -- center Maurkice Pouncey, tackles Marcus Gilbert and Mike Adams and guard David DeCastro -- have started exactly one game together. That was the 2013 opener. They took eight snaps with each other before Pouncey was lost for the season with a knee injury, the result of a poorly executed cut block by DeCastro.

    Injuries didn't just wreak havoc with the line in 2013.

    In 2012, DeCastro missed all but four games of his rookie season with a knee injury. Adams also had his rookie year in 2012 cut short with an ankle injury.

    But the injury excuse does not explain all of the unit's problems over the years. Some of the high draft choices have lived up to expectations while others have not.

    The interior of the line is solid across the board and has the potential to be better next season. DeCastro rebounded well from his rookie injury to have a solid second season at right guard, and veteran Ramon Foster had another strong season at left guard, especially in pass protection.

    If Pouncey bounces back from his ACL surgery to his previous Pro Bowl form, Munchak should not have any problem developing them into a formidable trio in the middle. The only question is how Foster, who is not a perfect fit for a zone scheme, adapts to Munchak's coaching.

    While the center and guards are considered the strength of the unit, questions abound at left and right tackle. Gilbert started all 16 games at right tackle, but he allowed 11 sacks, more than any other offensive lineman on the roster. Kelvin Beachum was the starter at left tackle for 11 of the final 12 games after Adams was benched for ineffective play.

    Beachum, 6 feet 3 inches and 303 pounds, is undersized for a left tackle, but he drew praise from offensive coordinator Todd Haley late in the season for the way he performed. Beachum allowed seven sacks in 11 games as a starter, and he is considered a better pass protector than a run blocker, so it will be interesting to see how he is viewed by Munchak.

    Munchak's biggest project might be with Adams, a 6-7, 323-pounder whom some considered one of the top tackle prospects in the 2012 draft. He was moved from right tackle to left tackle halfway through training camp last summer and was assigned the task of protecting Roethlisberger's blind side.

    In four games as a starter, Adams allowed four sacks, including three against Minnesota. He was benched for the following game and played more as a third tight end than a tackle for the rest of the season.

    The Steelers have some decisions to make when it comes to depth along the line. Fernando Velasco, who started 11 games at center after Pouncey was injured, is an unrestricted free agent as are Cody Wallace, who started the final four games at center, and Guy Whimper, who proved to be versatile in his ability to play guard and tackle.

    Given the recent injury history with the linemen, the reserves are important. But Munchak's No. 1 job is tapping into the potential of the high draft picks and whipping them into a better unit. If that doesn't happen next season, the questions surrounding the line will begin to focus more on the players and the scouting because Munchak's credentials are among the best in the business.


  8. #8
    Pro Bowler

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    I hope the O-line for zone is Adams, Beachum, Pouncey, Decastro, Gilbert. With Foster who can be a back up RT/G and Velasco as back up C/G. Think that is the best players we had. Maybe with Munchak coaching Adams and Gilbert flip. Ah so many O line questions. Can't wait for camp.

  9. #9

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    Quote Originally Posted by SS Laser View Post
    I hope the O-line for zone is Adams, Beachum, Pouncey, Decastro, Gilbert. With Foster who can be a back up RT/G and Velasco as back up C/G. Think that is the best players we had. Maybe with Munchak coaching Adams and Gilbert flip. Ah so many O line questions. Can't wait for camp.
    Foster was one of the better OLmen last season. Not sure why he doesn't get love from fans.

  10. #10

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    Remember how we couldn't stop the Titans run last year? That got Rooneys' attention. That's why MM is here.


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