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The Steelers officially promoted Adrian Klemm to be the offensive line coach today. Klemm was the assistant to former offensive line coach Shaun Sarrett, who didn't have his contract renewed after the season. Another in-house hire by the Steelers raised the eyebrows of many in the media and fans. Matt Canada and Klemm have never coached in the NFL at their new respective positions.
Canada was the Steelers' quarterbacks coach this past season and that's his lone year of NFL experience. Klemm has been the assistant offensive line coach for the Steelers the past two years, but besides playing six years in the NFL as an offensive lineman for the Patriots and Packers, that's Klemm's only experience in the league. Canada has been an offensive coordinator at Indiana, Northern Illinois, Wisconsin, North Carolina State, Pitt, LSU and Maryland (also was the interim head coach for a season), while Klemm has served as an offensive line coach at SMU and UCLA.
The hiring of Canada to be the new offensive coordinator at least made some sense, as he had a lot of success as a play-caller in college and is known to implement creative schematics in his offense.
But in the case of Klemm, why did the Steelers wait almost three weeks to just promote the assistant to the guy you essentially fired? It seemed like the Steelers were looking for a candidate with more experience but they either got other jobs or turned down the Steelers' interview request. It was like the Steelers just settled for Klemm because they couldn't find anyone better.
The outpouring of negativity on social media surrounding the promotion of Klemm got the attention of several current or former Steelers offensive lineman who supported the decision to promote Klemm.
Chuks Okorafor on Instagram was excited about Klemm getting promoted and Zach Banner wrote on Twitter, "Y’all don’t kno Klemm. We do. And that’s all that matters ..."
Former Steelers offensive lineman Trai Essex said he was hoping Klemm got the job and noted that his NFL playing experience plays a big respect factor for offensive linemen in the league. Klemm was a three-time Super Bowl champion with the Patriots and played under Bill Belichick and legendary offensive line coach Dante Scarnecchia. Whether that experience and being a part of a winning culture will carry over as an offensive line coach is remained to be seen.
Essex also mentioned that the assistant offensive line coach works closely with the rookies throughout the week and the backups. So he played a role in developing Kevin Dotson, Chuks Okorafor and Zach Banner.
Former Steelers offensive lineman Ramon Foster played his last year with the team in 2019, which was Klemm's first year as an assistant offensive line coach with the Steelers. Foster was impressed with Klemm in the short time that they were around each other.
"No lie ... Klemm is the BEST option," Foster said on Twitter. "Having been around him, he’s a guy who gets it and knows how to challenge everyone in the room with an ego removed. Solid, solid hire. With the room transitioning soon, he’s the guy for the job. I co-sign this."
In another Tweet, Foster said, "Y’all are going to like Klemm! Trust me."
It's encouraging to see current and former Steelers offensive lineman praise Klemm, but there are some red flags with his past, as Nick Farabaugh of Steelers Now tweeted an article from May of 2019 that stated Klemm and former UCLA head coach Jim Mora were named in three civil suits that alleged bullying injured players and not taking concussions serious or ignoring issues related to the matter. Klemm was also out of coaching from 2017-2018 while serving a show-cause penalty from the NCAA for arranging training services and housing for two recruits worth $2,400 that he paid for outside of NCAA rules.
I'm sure the Steelers and Mike Tomlin vetted these past issues with Klemm and it shouldn't be an issue moving forward, but it is noteworthy.