2017 SCU Awards: Steelers Coach of the Year

Steel City Underground presents the 2nd annual SCU Awards. Our panel of contributors all voted on various awards for the Steelers with the player getting the most votes being the winner.

Each article will have the list of nominees with one of our contributors stating their case for why that player earned their vote and deserves the award.

Comment and let us know if you agree or disagree with our winners and nominees. 

Fans love rooting for their favorite players and gushing over their performances and accomplishments. But often, many overlook the people who guide these players and put them on the right track to succeed.

This award is meant to recognize the Steelers fine coaching staff and their significant contributions to the team. The amazing talent on this roster, which has starting players ranging from first round draft picks to undrafted free agents, simply would not be the same if not for this staff who has helped them develop and hone their craft.

Here are the nominees…

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Richard Mann

It’s pretty easy explaining why Richard Mann deserves this award – his body of work speaks for itself. Not only does former 6th round pick Antonio Brown continue to be the best wide receiver in the league, but this year we saw the emergence of rookie JuJu Smith-Schuster. Under Mann’s guidance, JuJu had the statistically best rookie season among his entire draft class. Many like to point to Hines Ward for JuJu’s growth, and while I do think he helped, I don’t think Mann got enough credit.

Many questioned JuJu’s route running and ability to separate pre-draft and he proved he was more than capable of these. These types of skills come from hard work and technique. There’s no doubt in my mind that Mann played a significant role is JuJu’s development.

– Eric Herrmann

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John Mitchell

For 24 years, John Mitchell hasn’t gotten nearly enough credit for what he has done with the defensive line. In 2017, however, it is time that we acknowledge just how crucial he has been in the development of Cam Heyward, Stephon Tuitt, and Javon Hargrave. The defensive line was one of the strongest units for the Steelers during the regular season, led by Heyward’s career year that saw him tally 45 tackles and 12.0 sacks (the first Steeler to have double-digit sacks since 2010).

While there is no denying that this success comes from the elite talent that is Cam Heyward, Mitchell should get credit for working with the defensive schemes to put the defensive lineman in a position to succeed. He has quietly gone about his business developing players, and 2017 showed us just how the defensive line will continue into the future.

– Zach Metkler

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Mike Munchak

There’s a reason why Mike Munchak was in the consideration for multiple head coaching jobs after the 2017 season. The way he had this Steelers offensive line playing was incredible! They did a tremendous job of protecting Ben Roethlisberger, leading him to another great season. This line only allowed 24 sacks on the season, which was tied for 3rd best in the league. Keep in mind they also accomplished this while right tackle Marcus Gilbert had to be replaced by Chris Hubbard for a large portion of the season.

This group also paved the way for Le’Veon Bell to finish third in the league in rushing. Bell finished the season with 1,291 yards rushing, 9 touchdowns and 7.7 yards per carry. The offensive line helped create holes and give Bell time to use his hesitation running style to perfection.

The Steelers accounted for three Pro Bowlers on just their offensive line alone with Villanueva, DeCastro, and Pouncey – so Munchak obviously did his job very well. Pittsburgh is beyond blessed to have him back for another season!

– Ryan Lippert

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Mike Tomlin

For all of the flack he gets, Mike Tomlin still finds ways to win.

This season, he didn’t have to deal with as many injuries, but he had a ton of headaches to handle and keep the ship afloat, from Bell sitting out of camp to AB punching a Gatorade jug, a leaguewide anthem controversy in which an African American head coach concentrated on football rather than politics, the death of Dan Rooney, the grim injury to Ryan Shazier, and the handling of Ben Roethlisberger’s tumultuous relationship with Tomlin’s staff, balancing Todd Haley’s outbursts with his heir apparent, Randy Fichtner’s presesne.

Tomlin is one win shy of tying the most of any coach through 11 seasons. That doesn’t happen by accident. For all of the “cheerleader” and “player’s coach” comments that come his way, he is for certain the glue that helps maintain a “standard” in Pittsburgh.

– Joe Kuzma

Winner: Mike Munchak (6 votes)

Runner up: Tomlin (3 votes), Mann (1 vote), Mitchell (1 vote)

Who is your pick?

We’re currently accepting fan submissions over on our Twitter poll. Choose your pick below.

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