Heads Roll on the South Side: Steelers Fire Offensive Line Coach Jack Bicknell

At this post-season press conference Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin declined to announce any staffing or personnel decisions, instead insisting that he preferred to take his time. Tomlin allowed Steelers Nation to ring in the New Year, but before 2014’s first weekend fell, he pulled the trigger on his first coaching change.

  • After just one season, Jack Bicknell has been relieved of his duties as Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach.

Bicknell was hired last year by Tomlin, after a stint as the Kansas City Chiefs offensive line coordinator, and he was brought in because of his experience with zone blocking schemes. The Steelers plans to use those however largely went out the window when David DeCastro collided with Maurkice Pouncey 8 plays into the season vs. Tennessee.

  • That injury forced Kelvin Beachum to play a center, and forced Bicknell to do what his predecessor Sean Kugler had been forced to do – play musical chairs on offensive line. 

The Steelers line struggled mightily during the team’s 0-4 start as Fernando Velasco learned the offense and Mike Adams clearly found himself in over his head at left tackle, as Ben Roethlisberger was sacked 35 times in the season’s first nine games.

Yet the offensive line improved markedly. After taking so much punishment, opposing defenses only sacked Roethlisberger 7 times in the final 7 games of the season as the passing game took off. The running game lagged, but by season’s end the team was running the ball with consistent effectiveness.

Surprise to Most, Except One…

Given the line’s improvement down the stretch, Bicknell’s firing turned a lot of heads. ESPN’s Scott Brown cited a league source that said that Bicknell was “stunned by his dismissal.”

The members of the Steelers press corps also expressed their shock and disbelief almost to a man. That is all of them except for the Pittsburgh Post Gazette’s Gerry Dulac, who termed the move as expected…

…Dulac wasn’t being contrarian, he in fact had a scoop on his hands, which Steel Curtain Rising’s Watch Tower will discuss very soon. Stay tuned.

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