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Firing of Bicknell looks bad, but …

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

The Steelers’ firing of Jack Bicknell Jr. as offensive line coach today looks awful on its surface, given all the injuries and how they improved. But, as is usually the case, there’s more to it.k

I’m told that, contrary to at least two published reports, it’s absolutely untrue that Bicknell had his duties dialed back. He was completely responsible for all game-planning, too, though there were times Todd Haley would step in. The latter is not uncommon in the business.

Where Bicknell struggled, I’m further told, is in the area of individual instruction. Some players, notably injured center Maurkice Pouncey, became heavily involved in teaching plays and technique, both on the field and in the film room. Again, player instruction isn’t wholly uncommon, and injuries did make for a ton of extra instruction needed, but in this case the players might have raised that a level or two. And while Bicknell was loved by the players as a person, there’s also a sense I get that he might have lost them as a coach — fair or not — when times were toughest.

Bottom line, based on my talks tonight: Admiring as I’ve been — and remain — of Bicknell’s work in improving the Steelers’ line under tough circumstances, I can respect that Mike Tomlin feels he can do better.

Here’s hoping he does. This is way too much change already at a critical position in the organization.

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.

 
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