Coming into a coaching position which was once held by a man held in very high acclaim, like John Mitchell, can be difficult. But that was the exact situation Karl Dunbar saw himself in last season after Mike Tomlin decided to promote Mitchell to assistant coach, and hired Dunbar to take over as heir to the defensive line throne.
For players like Cameron Heyward, Stephon Tuitt and Javon Hargrave, Mitchell was all they’ve known since entering the NFL. But that doesn’t mean Dunbar didn’t do the job and create a new standard for the players who fall under his tutelage.
In fact, veteran defensive tackle Stephon Tuitt was more than pleased with how Dunbar handled him and the entire Steelers’ defensive line.
“He [Dunbar] demanded me to be a great player,” Tuitt told Teresa Varley of Steelers.com. “To be confident to know you are a great player. He has a whole different style than Coach Mitchell. Coach Mitchell brought a lot of great stuff out in me. Coach Dunbar brought out some different stuff. At the end of the day he taught me skills that pertain to what I have naturally, and helped me heighten those skills. Skills like hand usage. The ability to understand protection. The ability to understand formations. My hips. Things like that. To be able to play faster from those.”
Tuitt realizes he still has a ton of things he can improve upon to become an even more dominant player.
“It can always be better, but I had a tremendous amount of growth last year and I am excited about that,” said Tuitt. “I grew in new ways that they wanted me to, new ways of me discovering things about myself to become the player I can be.”
Where can Tuitt continue to improve? How about not just getting to plays, but making plays? Sounds crazy, but Tuitt believes he is just a step away from really wrecking the opposition.
“All of the defensive linemen, we joke about me,” said Tuitt. “I get there right before the quarterback is ready to throw the ball. It’s just understanding what I need to do to get there faster. Taking the next step to get there. I am there. I am always there. I just need to get there faster.
“You can make the impact play. You stop the drive, stop the offense at the line of scrimmage. The ability to stop them. The ability to be confident in what you are doing. The ability to be faster. That is the key.”
Throughout the interview, possibly the best aspect was when Tuitt described getting a sack at the NFL level, and dominating those opposite him.
“It’s a lot of hard work trying to get a sack,” said Tuitt. “It’s the offensive line’s job not to allow you to get a sack. When you get one it’s like you are taking away from what they are getting paid to do. When you get in the quarterback’s head, and the person who is getting paid to stop you from getting there, that is an exhilarating feeling. That is like I am dominating you and I am going to keep dominating.”