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NKySteeler
06-02-2008, 03:02 PM
It obviously goes without saying, but this is truly the key for a successful defense... If the pressure is on, it makes the jobs of the secondary so much easier, and more effective... Everyone on the squad looks better.
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Main objective: Defense needs to pressure the QB
Monday, June 02, 2008
By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

It's bigger and, according to the plan, will pack more punch. The Steelers' defensive playbook always has been one of the more intricate and confusing in the NFL under coordinator Dick LeBeau, and it might be more so in 2008.

Some of the newer designs are meant for one reason: Get to the quarterback. The Steelers have been among the best at that, traditionally. But the past two seasons, it's not the quarterback who has dropped but Steelers' sack totals. They dipped from 47 during their run to the Super Bowl in 2005, to 39 in 2006 and to 36 last season.

They've gone from Blitzburgh to Zipsburgh when it comes to sacking the quarterback, especially in the second half of last season. Halfway through, the Steelers had 25 sacks and a 6-2 record. In the second half, they managed only 11 sacks and a 4-4 record.

"I do feel like maybe toward the end of the year we weren't getting to the quarterback as much as we should have," said defensive end Brett Keisel.

Little surprise then that LeBeau and head coach Mike Tomlin are trying to devise ways to put more pressure on the quarterback in 2008.

"We have to put guys in position to highlight their skills and let them go," Tomlin said.

Toward that end, there will be lineup changes and schematic ones, too.

LaMarr Woodley replaces Clark Haggans at left outside linebacker, and he has shown he knows his way to the quarterback. He had four sacks while playing in just 80 of the team's 933 defensive snaps as a rookie last regular season, then added two more in the playoff loss to Jacksonville. Haggans had four sacks as a starter. Those six sacks ranked third on the team behind James Harrison's 10 and James Farrior's 6.5.

His teammates predict big things for Woodley as a regular in 2008.

"He's very strong," Keisel said. "I think once he gets more comfortable in our scheme and what he's doing, he's just going to be that much better. I definitely expect double digits from him."

More pressure from Woodley on the left side should provide more opportunities for team MVP Harrison on the right.

"Hopefully, he'll take some of the pressure I had toward the later part of the year, where they started keeping running backs in to block me on the edge, give me a bump," Harrison said. "They're going to have to give him the same respect that they give me.

"I figure through the first half of the year, he'll come out and surprise a few people on opposing teams, and, after they realize it, they'll have to deal with both of us."

Harrison's role will increase, too. The plan is to move him around more in the defense, along with Keisel, to try to further confuse offenses. He'll do more of what Joey Porter did before him.

"It should be confusing," Harrison said. "You're going to get looks where we're inverted or we're both inside. We're both going to rush, both going to drop. One might rush and one might drop, depending on what the call is."

The drop they hope to avoid is another one in their sack total.

"I think our defense is definitely capable of a large playbook where we have all kinds of things that we can throw at an offense," Keisel said. "We don't have to come at one team with one game plan. We can say, well, this team, you can get after them on the right side and then have a whole thing of crazy blitzes, you know. We have a veteran defense and, hopefully, we will do that."

It might get a boost from a rookie, though.

One reason cited for the dropoff in sacks the second half of the season was weariness. Other than Woodley's few plays, Haggans and Harrison played every down. The coaches said they would like to use third-round pick Bruce Davis as a situational pass-rusher to spell Woodley and Harrison. Davis had 24 1/2 sacks the past two seasons at UCLA.

"It has to be a collective thing," Tomlin said, explaining the workings of a good pass rush. "If you have one guy who has standout skills, offenses can make adjustments and do what they need to do in terms of getting it blocked. If you have a collective group that's capable of getting after the quarterback, making the ball come out on time and eliminating escape lanes, then you have a good rush and you can apply consistent pressure."

Flasteel
06-02-2008, 04:28 PM
This is what it's all about on defense. The 47 sacks they mentioned in 2005 belies the fact that pressure on the quarterback has been a problem for a much longer period of time. Last year we made the investments in our pass rush and this year we'll hopefully see it pay huge dividends. The evolution of Woodley seems almost inevitable and by itself should have a significant impact on our pressure. If Timmons can provide an explosive presence inside (like his skill set suggests he's capable of) and Davis is able to adequately spell both OLB spots, then we could definitely see a return to Blitzburgh.

I'm not quite as sold on Dick "bad word" LeBeau's tinkering with crazy schemes. His new quarter package last year seemed to do nothing but give the opposing quarterback more time to throw and the way he's started putting Polamalu up on the line has rendered him ineffective. I'm all for disguise, but you need to put players in a position to beat the guy across from them...I'm just sayin' that he shouldn't get too fancy.

Oviedo
06-02-2008, 04:29 PM
In a league where all the rules have been designed to favor the receiver in the passing game in order to increase scoring the only real way you have to stop a passing game is sack the QB. The nonsense about "shutdown CBs" is nothing but a myth because league rules don't permit CBs to shutdown the passing game. We have not done well in with regards to sacks the last couple of years which is why LeBeau "wastes" Troy on blitzes to try to get pressure.

Here are our sack and INT totals the last several years:

2004-41 sacks and 19 INTs—AFC Championship
2005-47 sacks and 15 INTs—Super Bowl
2006-39 sacks and 20 INTs—No play offs
2007-36 sacks and 11 INTs—Eliminated 1st Round

The numbers tell it all. When we have the most sacks we are most successful. The year we had the most INTs we did not even make the play offs. It is all about attacking the QB and until we get our sack totals into the high 40s or low 50s we are not going to be the successful defense we need to be to win championships.

NKySteeler
06-02-2008, 04:38 PM
I think it all goes "hand-in-hand"....

Pressure/sacks = flustered qb = poor passes = interceptions

Iron Shiek
06-03-2008, 12:31 AM
I'm not quite as sold on Dick "bad word" LeBeau's tinkering with crazy schemes. His new quarter package last year seemed to do nothing but give the opposing quarterback more time to throw and the way he's started putting Polamalu up on the line has rendered him ineffective. I'm all for disguise, but you need to put players in a position to beat the guy across from them...I'm just sayin' that he shouldn't get too fancy.


Yeah reading about it prior to last year. Everyone was hyping up Lebeau's crazy scheme and I remember reading some quotes of the players saying they are going to shock people and give teams something they never seen before. I was so excited only to be a little disappointed when it didn't work out too well. Let's return to the standard shown in years past!!! please...

BURGH86STEEL
06-03-2008, 05:40 AM
This is what it's all about on defense. The 47 sacks they mentioned in 2005 belies the fact that pressure on the quarterback has been a problem for a much longer period of time. Last year we made the investments in our pass rush and this year we'll hopefully see it pay huge dividends. The evolution of Woodley seems almost inevitable and by itself should have a significant impact on our pressure. If Timmons can provide an explosive presence inside (like his skill set suggests he's capable of) and Davis is able to adequately spell both OLB spots, then we could definitely see a return to Blitzburgh.

I'm not quite as sold on Dick "bad word" LeBeau's tinkering with crazy schemes. His new quarter package last year seemed to do nothing but give the opposing quarterback more time to throw and the way he's started putting Polamalu up on the line has rendered him ineffective. I'm all for disguise, but you need to put players in a position to beat the guy across from them...I'm just sayin' that he shouldn't get too fancy.

Either the players on the defense can beat the players in front of them or they cannot. Regarless of the scheme, I think winning those one on one matchups up front is what it all boils down too. They did not seem to win a lot of those battles last season to get to the QB. I also think the players on the defense might've got a little tired late in the season.

Flasteel
06-03-2008, 03:03 PM
This is what it's all about on defense. The 47 sacks they mentioned in 2005 belies the fact that pressure on the quarterback has been a problem for a much longer period of time. Last year we made the investments in our pass rush and this year we'll hopefully see it pay huge dividends. The evolution of Woodley seems almost inevitable and by itself should have a significant impact on our pressure. If Timmons can provide an explosive presence inside (like his skill set suggests he's capable of) and Davis is able to adequately spell both OLB spots, then we could definitely see a return to Blitzburgh.

I'm not quite as sold on Dick "bad word" LeBeau's tinkering with crazy schemes. His new quarter package last year seemed to do nothing but give the opposing quarterback more time to throw and the way he's started putting Polamalu up on the line has rendered him ineffective. I'm all for disguise, but you need to put players in a position to beat the guy across from them...I'm just sayin' that he shouldn't get too fancy.

Either the players on the defense can beat the players in front of them or they cannot. Regarless of the scheme, I think winning those one on one matchups up front is what it all boils down too. They did not seem to win a lot of those battles last season to get to the QB. I also think the players on the defense might've got a little tired late in the season.

That's exactly right, although I will say that crazy-ass schemes can prevent a player from being in a position to defeat the man in front of him. I'm hoping that Davis pans out and that way we've got oustanding depth across the board at linebacker and can keep our starters fresh throughout the game.

Too bad we can only dream about having that up front.