PITTSBURGH — Not only does the Steelers’ offensive line have to figure out how it’s going to take a step up this season with a bunch of players in their mid-to-early twenties, they have to do so with a new offensive line coach in Pat Meyer.
Meyer is the group’s third position coach in the last three years after Shaun Sarrett’s two-year stint ended in 2020 and Adrian Klemm didn’t even finish the season last year before taking a job at Oregon. That hasn’t helped with any continuity for a group that was coached for five years by hall of famer Mike Munchak.
But the only player still on the roster who even got to work with Munchak is Chukwuma Okorafor. Everyone else from Kevin Dotson to Kendrick Green, J.C. Hassenhauer and Dan Moore Jr. are only familiar with the most recent of Steelers offensive line coaches.
And the newly added Mason Cole, who projects to start at center, and James Daniels, who projects to start at right guard, are just learning the team.
But at least during Steelers OTAs, Meyer is helping the young Steelers’ offensive line grow into being more comfortable playing in multiple spots on the line.
“He knows how guys move and that there’s different ways to do things,” Moore said of Meyer after Steelers OTAs Tuesday at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex. “Everybody moves different, has different body types and styles. The same block might be completely different for someone else. He’s a vet as a coach and does a good job of knowing his players. He’s really been a great leader.”
That sounded a lot like the way Daniels praised Meyer during the first week of Steelers OTAs when he was asked about being heralded as the leader of the offensive line by his teammates.
“Coach Meyer has been doing a really good job,” Daniels said. “Some of the stuff he’s coaching, I haven’t been taught before. He’s doing a very good job breaking it down to make it simple. Since day 1, we’ve been watching install tapes of his technique on how different guys take on different situations.”
Green credited Meyer for being more detail oriented, but gave credit to Klemm coaching a similar way.
“Coach Klemm coached me up a bunch,” Green said. “Coach Klemm was a stickler on technique. But they both harp on technique, that’s something they have in common. That’s a positive or both of them.”
When asked to get into the specifics of what Meyer is doing differently that’s helped Moore adjust better this season, he noted Meyer is rooted in technique, but pays attention to the differences in his players.
“It’s a lot more technique-based for sure,” Moore said of Meyer. “He’s doing a really good job of tweaking guys’ games and not trying to change their game. He asks, ‘how can I add? How can I help?'”
The result has been positive so far for Moore, who’s grown more into his role at left tackle after starting all of last year for the Steelers.
“I’m being more comfortable in my role,” Moore said. “I know what to expect and know what’s expected of me. Knowing what it takes to be successful at this level helps me not feel like a rookie anymore.”
Feeling more comfortable in certain roles seems to be the theme for the Steelers’ 2022 offensive line, at least during OTAs. Kevin Dotson made it clear he’s more confident playing at left guard than he was last year after being a right guard for most of his collegiate career. That gives the Steelers the prospect of both Dotson and Moore playing with a stronger foundation in their roles and building off each other.
If you asked Moore, he seems as excited to work with Dotson as Dotson is to work with him.
“It’s almost like we don’t have to tell each other anything,” Moore said of his rapport with Dotson. “You just have to look at each other. It’s that continuity and familiarity. Kevin’s a beast. He knows where to go and it’s over with.”
The two are a sign for how much the Steelers’ offensive line seems to–really–like each other. While every position group gets close to one another, the offensive line seems to be a step further than they were last year, even with new additions.
Dotson told me last week and he and Moore were supposed to go fishing for Memorial Day weekend, Moore confirmed Tuesday that trip didn’t happen and they’re looking to go sometime soon. But you don’t even need to ask about their personal lives to get a glimpse of how much the linemen seem to generally enjoy each other and have fun, even while at OTAs.
Just watch this clip from my interview with Moore from Tuesday, and you’ll see Okorafor start to heckle him from the background and how Moore took it in stride:
Yesterday when Dan Moore Jr. was praising Kevin Dotson for their chemistry, Chuks Okorafor had something to say 😂: pic.twitter.com/AIinkqQyQx
— Christopher Carter (@CarterCritiques) June 1, 2022
The Steelers’ locker room seems to be full of guys who like each other. Even long time veterans like Cam Heyward are having fun with rookies like Kenny Pickett, as I detailed in Tuesday’s takeaways.
But the offensive line is a group this team desperately needs to gel to get Najee Harris going and protect whoever wins the quarterback battle from Pickett to Mitch Trubisky or Mason Rudolph. Liking their coach, and each other, is a good start for at least when the pads aren’t on during OTAs.
Nick Farabaugh contributed to this story with reporting from Pittsburgh.