The Denver Broncos surprised everyone with the hiring of Mike Munchak as their offensive line coach in the off-season, and it is the move of that period.
"“The hiring of Mike Munchak was one of the biggest offseason acquisitions of this NFL period.” – Chris Mortensen, ESPN"
Through much of the interview process to find the new head coach of the Denver Broncos, rumors were floating the team would hire Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach and former Tennessee Titans head coach Mike Munchak for the job.
At least, there was a growing sense he was the overwhelming favorite. However, that all changed when Vic Fangio entered the mix. The Broncos decided to choose Fangio over Munchak for the job. What happened after is the move of the entire off-season.
It takes tremendous guts to hire a person to the same position as his old job moving laterally. Not only this but joining the staff of someone who stole the job from you. Then factoring the drama surrounding the entire Pittsburgh Steelers organization and it was understandable why Munchak made the decision to move to the Mile High City.
Lastly, or maybe firstly, family ties in Denver are strong for Munchak. His daughter lives in Colorado and he wanted to be close with family.
Munchak is a Hall of Fame player that brings a gold jacket mentality to the Denver Broncos. According to many in the NFL, Munchak is regarded as the top offensive line coach in the business.
His former quarterback Ben Roethlisberger said the team would miss Munchak greatly. It is understandable. The offensive line for the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed 23 sacks this season. The Steelers nearly doubled that last season.
Not to be outdone, Munchak does have head coaching experience under his belt too. The former Tennessee Titans head coach was under scrutiny during his tenure there. It is very difficult to critique his time in Tennessee without understanding the quarterback situation.
Jake Locker was often unhealthy and when he was, he was ineffective. Nearly every other position under Munchak saw strong development. The head coach, unfortunately, gets the lion’s share of the blame. Munchak ended up being the fall guy in Tennessee.
Having multiple strong voices is a good thing for the Denver Broncos. One can only hope there will not be too many “cooks in the kitchen” as they say.
The offensive line woes will be all but neutralized with the hire of Munchak. The development of Garett Bolles, Connor McGovern, and a potential new right guard through the NFL Draft will be paramount to growth upfront.
The loss of Matt Paradis hurts the team, but this is when Hall of Fame coaching matters. Those coaches turn good players to great players and great players to Hall of Fame players. Bolles, McGovern, a healthy Ronald Leary, and Ja’Wuan James will solidify the offensive front like Denver has not seen in awhile.
For the first time in a long time, the offensive line will see a major uptick in their development. This is great news for a unit that did perform better than some make it out to be last season.
Munchak will now be looking to get the best out of each player on the line. If this can happen, then Denver can protect Joe Flacco like the Steelers did with Roethlisberger. One of the best things for Flacco’s career is standing upright and releasing the ball accurately down the field or ‘using every blade of grass.’
When Mortensen says Munchak was one of the biggest acquisitions this off-season, it is easy to see why. Too often, we see this narrative translated to players and not coaching hires. Moves are moves and Denver made arguably the best position hiring with Munchak as their offensive line coach.