Ex-Steelers Assistant Returning to NFL With AFC Rival: Report

Mike Tomlin

Getty One analyst has implored head coach Mike Tomlin and the Pittsburgh Steelers to consider releasing a defensive starter.

It was little more than a year ago that former Pittsburgh Steelers offensive line coach Adrian Klemm left his job with the Steelers to accept what was described as a “similar job” with the Oregon Ducks. Now, Klemm is returning to the NFL with the New England Patriots, this according to ESPN senior college football writer Pete Thamel.

As ESPN staff writer Mike Reiss puts it, Klemm will serve “as an assistant coach on their offensive staff, filling a critical offensive line-based role under new coordinator Bill O’Brien.”

He comes back to the NFL after a year in which he served as associate head coach, offensive line coach and run-game coordinator for the Ducks. Oregon finished No. 1 in the nation last season in terms of sacks allowed, giving up just five in 13 games.

Klemm, 45, is well-acquainted with Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, as Klemm was Belichick’s first-ever draft pick with the Patriots, selected No. 46 overall out of the University of Hawai’i in 2000.

He went on to play in 26 games for the Patriots between 2000-04, making a total of 10 starts and winning three Super Bowl rings during that time frame. Klemm went on to spent two more years with the Green Bay Packers before beginning a coaching career that has taken him to Southern Methodist University (2008-11), UCLA (2012-16) and to Pittsburgh (2019-21).

Adrian Klemm’s Steelers Coaching Career Ended Abruptly

Klemm was hired by Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin on February 5, 2019, and served as assistant offensive line coach for two years before Tomlin promoted him to offensive line coach on February 1, 2021. Klemm wasn’t necessarily Tomlin’s first choice, but the promotion was applauded by Steelers offensive linemen past and present.

In May 2021, Klemm earned addition props from Steelers guard Kevin Dotson, who indicated that the new offensive line coach was instilling a “way more aggressive” mindset.

But Pittsburgh’s offensive line struggled mightily in 2021 and Klemm left for Oregon after Week 16, while the regular-season was still in progress.

In fact, the Steelers finished with the fourth-fewest rushing yards in the NFL in 2021, gaining just 1,583 yards, an average of 3.8 yards per carry. That followed a year in which the Steelers had the worst rushing game in the NFL, gaining only 1,351 yards and 3.6 yards per rush. Meanwhile, the Steelers were middle of the pack in terms of sacks allowed in ’21, allowing 38 sacks during Ben Roethlisberger’s final season.

Adrian Klemm Was Replaced by Pat Meyer

Mike Tomlin went on to replace Klemm with Pat Meyer, who served as offensive line coach for the Carolina Panthers in 2020-21 and held the same position with the Los Angeles Chargers from 2017-19. (The addition of Meyer came after the Steelers lost assistant offensive line coach Chris Morgan to the Chicago Bears.)

Then Tomlin hired former North Carolina Central University offensive line coach Isaac Williams to work under Meyer.

The results were better in 2022, as the Steelers produced 2,073 rushing yards last season, an average of 4.2 yards per carry. The number of sacks allowed held steady at 38 for the second year in a row, as rookie quarterback Kenny Pickett took over the reigns from Roethlisberger.