According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Network, the Pittsburgh Steelers have promoted assistant offensive line coach Adrian Klemm to offensive line coach. As yet, the Steelers have made no official announcement and Klemm’s title has not been updated on the coaching roster at Steelers.com.
Steelers Offensive Linemen React to the News
But the initial reaction from Steelers linemen past and present has been overwhelmingly positive.
Brian Batko of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette noted that Steelers tackle Chuks Okorafor expressed his enthusiasm for Klemm’s promotion via Instagram:
Steelers tackle Chuks Okorafor pleased to see Adrian Klemm promoted to OL coach, per Instagram pic.twitter.com/DcprY5epcC
— Brian Batko (@BrianBatko) February 2, 2021
Meanwhile, fellow Steelers tackle Zach Banner, who is recovering from an ACL tear suffered in the 2020 season opener against the New York Giants, also seemed to endorse the decision, even as he alluded to criticism about the choice.
Y’all don’t kno Klemm. We do. And that’s all that matters…
— Zach Banner (@ZBNFL) February 2, 2021
Recently-retired Steelers lineman Ramon Foster, who was coached by Klemm in 2019, also had positive things to say, calling Klemm “damn good,” while adding:
No lie…Klemm is the BEST option. 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.
— Ramon Foster (@RamonFoster) February 2, 2021
Lastly, former Steelers offensive tackle Trai Essex—who played for the team between 2005 and 2011—noted that it’s the job of the assistant offensive line coach to work with the team’s rookies (and backups), while the offensive line coach focuses on getting starters ready for the forthcoming game. As such, Essex believes that Klemm ought to receive some credit for the rapid development of rookie fourth-round pick Kevin Dotson (Louisiana), who is penciled in as the starter at left guard next season.
The assistant OL coach often works closely with the rookies thru out the week while the OL coach gets the starters ready for the game. Dotson’s performance this year w/o training camp should give you confidence in Coach Klemm’s potential. #SteelerNation
— Trai Essex (@TraiDay79) February 1, 2021
Adrian Klemm’s Playing, Coaching Career
Adrian Klemm was hired by the Steelers on February 5, 2019, stepping into the role held by Shaun Sarrett before Sarrett was promoted to offensive line coach.
Prior to coming to the Steelers, Klemm’s coaching experience was at the college level, having served as associate head coach/run game coordinator/offensive line coach at UCLA between 2012-16. His coaching career got underway at Southern Methodist University in 2008, where he was a graduate assistant for a year (2008) before becoming the offensive line coach/recruiting coordinator for three years.
Prior to that he played in the NFL for six seasons, with the first five coming as a member of the New England Patriots. In fact, Klemm was Bill Belichick’s first draft pick as head coach of the Patriots, taken in the second round of the 2000 NFL Draft (No. 46 overall) out of the University of Hawaii. Klemm was a member of three of New England’s Super Bowl-winning teams before wrapping up his playing career with the Green Bay Packers in 2005.
Klemm Was Named in Civil Lawsuits Stemming from His Time at UCLA
In May 2019—three months after he was hired by the Steelers—Klemm was named in three civil lawsuits filed by a trio of former UCLA Bruin offensive linemen. According to the Los Angeles Daily News, the lawsuits allege that Klemm and other UCLA staffers bullied injured players, and that former UCLA head coach Jim Mora and his staff demonstrated a pattern of “intentional disregard for player health and safety.” The Daily News article also asserts that two of the linemen “suffered traumatic head injuries while playing for UCLA and continue to experience symptoms linked to Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.”
It’s also worth noting that Klemm doesn’t appear to have been the team’s first choice for the job. His (reported) promotion comes three weeks after Sarrett was dismissed, and after the Steelers interviewed several other more experienced candidates, including Hank Fraley, who elected to stay with the Detroit Lions. The Steelers also requested an interview with Houston Texans offensive line coach Mike Devlin, but that interview never took place.
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