The Steelers will be looking for an offensive line coach to replace Sean Kugler after the season. They have a good one working for them already. His name is Tunch Ilkin.
Bill Cowher and several other NFL coaches tried to hire Ilkin to coach their lines through the years, but the timing wasn’t right for him and his young family. It may be now because he’s in a different spot. His kids are grown and gone and his lovely wife Sharon died of cancer last year.
I asked him earlier this year if he might be interested now in getting into coaching and he said he might. Ilkin has such a good reputation as an instructor of offensive linemen that he was hired through the years by various college and NFL teams to conduct clinics for their offensive linemen. Individual players also would hire him to personally instruct them on the art of blocking.
Ilkin and his pal Craig Wolfley join Bill Hillgrove on the Steelers radio broadcast and he also does a show with Wolfley on 970 AM in Pittsburgh and does some video work for Steelers.com. He’s good at what he does, but he’d be a better line coach.
--- Here’s a matchup of James Harrison and the tackle who will try to block him Sunday, via Fort Worth:
--- And here’s a suggestion from Dallas, a familiar one in Pittsburgh, that the Steelers should run on the Cowboys:
--- Wes Lyons, a 6-8 wide receiver from Woodland Hills High School and WVU who was in camp with the Steelers last year, has written a book. “The Pursuit With Patience” can be found on Amazon.com.
--- Your questions:
--- YOU: Is there any meaningful explanation as to why the Steelers have been unable to generate turnovers in the past two years?
ME: They’re sacks are way down too. They can go hand in hand. The lack of a fierce pass rush means they’re not getting the kind of strip-sacks that James Harrison produced in Baltimore, or the interceptions from quarterbacks hurrying to get rid of the ball. Troy Polamalu also has been absent for a long stretch and he’s been among their better pickoff artists.
--- YOU: Based on your experience and conversations with players and coaches, could you assign a rough percentage (adding up to 100%) as to what was responsible for the poor running game stats against the Chargers among the following three factors:
a. Play calling.
b. Performance of the offensive line.
c. Performance of running backs?
ME: I’ll take D and E. D is the Chargers run defense, which has been good this season. E is the lack of opportunities once San Diego ran out to a big lead. The Steelers top two backs, Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman, combined for just 10 carries.
--- YOU: The Steelers signing more players to the practice squad got me wondering… Do you think they have had enough of Rashard Mendenhall and might release him when he comes off suspension?
ME: No, they’ll keep him through the end of the season and then he becomes an unrestricted free agent.
--- YOU: any other theories on your part of why Tomlin is below average against below average teams?
ME: Not really. Maybe the Steelers this season are just not that good for many reasons.
--- YOU: Why don't the Steelers reach out to Bryant McFadden?
ME: That shipped sailed twice. There won’t be a third launching.
--- YOU: Given the lack of healthy bodies & "above the line" play by the corners last week, is there a safety on the Steelers' roster that might play any cornerback until Ike returns, ala Carnell Lake back about 1995? Josh Victorian didn't look like much of an answer.
ME: Lake was a unique athlete. He played linebacker at UCLA and safety and cornerback with the Steelers. They don’t often come around like that. No, they do not have a safety who can play cornerback. They do have a safety, Will Allen, who could play if they went to six DBs using three corners and three safeties.
--- YOU: why is everyone so quick to blame tomlin for not having the players "ready" to play last sunday? we are talking about grown men, professionals at their job. at the end of the, doesn't it fall on them to be ready to go out and play with motivation? it's not like tomlin or lebeau were the ones not getting pressure on rivers despite a patchwork o-line, they weren't the ones who couldn't get a push on 4th and 1.....
ME: The words “motivated” and “ready” have different meanings. I can be ready to do my work without being motivated to do so. The main job of a coach in any sport is to have his team ready to play. It may not have been Tomlin’s fault – or maybe it was. Either way, the coach gets the credit when things go well and the blame when they do not. It’s why they hire and fire them all the time.
--- YOU: Tomlin is catching a lot of heat for not having his team ready to go versus SD. Chuck Noll was a teacher not a motivator and felt he should not have to get his players motivated to play. That being said, where is the leadership coming from among the players? It seems that guys like Ward, Farrior, and Smith are greatly missed?
ME: Read part of my answer above. As to those players who have left, yes, they are missed in the locker room. However, teams lose veterans all the time and this one has lost its share through the years, including Jerome Bettis and Joey Porter before those you mention. Others have to step up. They have leaders.
--- YOU: Do you think that Tomlin has lost control of the team, or the number of injuries this year has become the issue?
ME: No, I don’t see where he’s lost control of the team.
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