Steelers' New O-Line Coach Comes With Ugly Resume
Kugler was just fired by the Bills after two seasons as the offensive line coach in Buffalo and a year as the assistant offensive line coach. So what did Buffalo do this year under Kugler? They gave up 46 sacks, fourth worst in the league, and gave up 103 quarterback hits, second worst in the league.
If you look back to his previous resume, it doesn't really help Kugler's case. Kugler's best selling point may be his one year in Boise State. He worked as the assistant head coach/offensive line coach for the Broncos and helped offensive tackle Ryan Clady become a first-round pick. Before that he had five years working with the offensive line and tight ends with the Lions while Matt Millen was ruining the franchise.
On the basis of the resume, Kugler looks like an awful hire -- less successful than the coach that Pittsburgh just fired. But if you did a little deeper it's possible to at least see some selling points in Kugler. No offensive line coach was given a tougher job than what the Bills gave Kugler last season. Buffalo went into 2009 without one starter returning at the same position he played in 2008. After trading away Pro Bowl left tackle Jason Peters, Kugler went into 2009 with two rookies at guard and no tackles who were really worth of handling the position.
As you would expect, it was a disaster. It wasn't helped by injuries that saw the Bills put their best two offensive tackles and three guards on injured reserve. Nearly every week Buffalo had to insert a new starter into a lineup. Retreads like Kendall Simmons, Richie Incognito and Jamon Meredith were signed off the waiver wire and inserted right into the starting lineup. And the combination of running back Fred Jackson's poor blitz pick-up skills (six sacks allowed) and Ryan Fitzpatrick's tendency to hold the ball and scramble (9 1/2 sacks could be blamed on the quarterbacks), made the line look even worse.
But despite all of that, the Bills line did get better as the season went along and the Bills did average 4.4 yards per carry. If Kugler can get through one of the worst situations any offensive line coach will ever have to face, just maybe he can do something with a much more stable situation in Pittsburgh.
Or maybe not, but his hire is not as bad as it appears.