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Jan 04

Steelers Firing of O-Line Coach Reveals What Really Goes on Behind Closed Doors

BicknellI will never claim to know everything that goes on inside the offices of the Pittsburgh Steelers and quite frankly I don’t want to either.

I much prefer taking the knowledge I gain and then using it to offer opinions and analysis. Sure it would be great to know everything but then I wouldn’t be any better than Ian Rapoport of NFL Network and that bothers me.

The Steelers fired offensive line coach Jack Bicknell, Jr on Friday in a move I certainly never saw coming.

Earlier this week we named Bicknell as our assistant coach of the year in our Steel City Blitz Awards. He took an offensive line riddled with injuries and poor execution and molded it into a very serviceable group.

The Steelers gave up just seven sacks over their final seven games. This was after giving up 35 sacks in the first nine.

Depending upon which Pittsburgh news outlet you read, you’ll get two different answers as to why Bicknell was relieved of his duties.

On one hand we have the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette’s Gerry Dulac who claimed Bicknell had a reduced role throughout the season. Dulac claims offensive assistant Shaun Sarrett has been doing most of the instruction and planning with the offensive line for the latter half of the season.

Mark Kaboly of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review tweeted that a person he spoke to with knowledge of the situation said that Bicknell’s role had NOT been diminished as Dulac reported.

This is not the first time two writers in the same city will get different bites of information on the same story nor will it be the last. I find it curious though this is the coach the Steelers have chosen to fire. Every fan base looks for a scapegoat following an 8-8 season and it’s possible that’s all this move is.

This could be that move that is meant to appease the masses that are desperate for answers and accountability.

I don’t think that’s it though. I think this has more to do with Bicknell’s expertise and lack of younger player development than anything. I find it very possible that the Steelers may have decided to scrap the zone blocking scheme Bicknell was brought in to institute. When Maurkice Pouncey went down in the opener, the games that followed showed that the zone blocking scheme was not going to happen they way the staff envisioned for this year at least.

The front office and Mike Tomlin were probably not thriled with the progress of Mike Adams either. Adams started the season at left tackle but eventually found himself in a reserve role following the fourth game of the season. This is not what was envisioned for a second round draft pick.

Perhaps Tomlin and Todd Haley are resigned to using more traditional blocking systems? We won’t know this for some time. What we will know is just how involved Bicknell really was when the Steelers announce his replacement. Should Coach Sarrett get the position then that will tell us one thing and should it be an outsider, that will tell us another.

Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @steeldad and follow the website at @SCBlitz. He can be heard Mondays on Trib-Live Radio at 730pm ET talking Steelers and is a blogger for ESPN 970 in Pittsburgh.

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