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12-01-2008, 05:32 PM
Me likey...

Rod Woodson
NFL Network

Former Steelers cornerback Rod Woodson, an analyst for NFL Networkís Total Access, will provide a regular column for Steelers Digest throughout the 2008 season.

ē During my 10 seasons with the Steelers, I was a part of some great
defensive units, but this 2008 defense is playing as well as any of
those. The back end, the secondary is starting to play the way it is capable of playing.

Ike Taylor is picking up his play as the season has gone on. Troy Polamalu is playing outstanding. The linebackers are just remarkable. You have four, really five, athletic linebackers who can play and get the job done. Just look at their stats. Just look at the numbers. Dick LeBeau, the ageless wonder, has done an outstanding job again with the 3-4 zone-blitz defense. He makes it very tough for opposing quarterbacks and running backs to do well.

ē Being a former defensive back myself, I have a fondness for players
at that position, but on this Steelers defense, itís really about the linebackers.

Without a doubt.

You look at the linebackers and they are getting all of the sacks. If the
secondary were making more big plays, getting the interceptions, running them back for touchdowns, making some sacks themselves, then they wouldnít get overlooked. But you look at the play of the linebackers, and itís tremendous.

They are constantly putting pressure on quarterbacks. They are all
over the field. It seems like every time the Steelers are making a play
on defense it is from the linebacker position. You canít take anything
away from them. They have played outstanding this year and picked up their play tremendously from last year.

ē With James Harrison, if you go back and look at how he has played
over the years, it seems like this year that light really has clicked on for him.

You can ask Dick LeBeau or any other coordinator around the league,
and theyíll tell you youíre always waiting for that light to click on for
those players. ďOh, so this is how you get it done.Ē

Then itís easier for those players to play because they donít have to
think about anything anymore. They just have to react. The athletic ability takes over.

What James Harrison has done so far this year has been tremendous. I donít want to say that one player is better than the other, but what he has done for his team has been outstanding. I know he is going to be mentioned and definitely considered when it comes time to vote for the Defensive Player of the Year. But the season is not over yet. Keep doing it, and if he can, then heíll deserve to be in that category.

ē Going into this season, I thought Bryant McFadden was the best cornerback the Steelers had. When they lost him to injury, when he broke his arm against the Bengals, thatís when Ike Taylor really picked up his play. Then you bring in other backup players and they are playing extremely well.

Coaches make the roster, and in the NFL you put people on the roster
you believe can step in and start if the starter does get hurt. Since
every backup on every team is only one injury away, week in and week out, from being a starter on your football team, you always want
those guys to be able to step in and play well.

You lose Rashard Mendenhall and then Willie Parker for a while, and
Mewelde Moore comes in and plays extremely well.

I think there are two things involved with that: The Steelers players
are taught extremely well; and the team is efficient in what it is trying to get done on both sides of the football when those players do come on to the field.

They understand that itís either play well or you go home.

ē The Steelers are having a nice season, but in order to contend for
the Super Bowl, they have to get the running game going. That is the only downside to what they are doing this season.

They have five Lombardi trophies sitting in the facility in Pittsburgh because they ran the football. Hopefully, they can get back to that.

To me there is not going to be one team that can dominate throughout
the year by throwing the football.

The Steelers defense is good enough to win games, to win close games week in and week out, and if they can get back to running the ball, to the power game, and get back to putting Ben Roethlisberger back in the situation where he is throwing the ball 20-25 times a game, then thatís when the play-action becomes available down the field and the Steelers offense is making big plays consistently.

If they can get the running game going, the Steelers have the opportunity to be in Tampa for Super Bowl XLIII.

ē When the question comes up as to whether Dick LeBeau should be
in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, the first thing I always say is, first, he has to retire and I donít know if he ever will. The guy looks like heís 50 and heís 71. He is so ageless.

I believe Dick LeBeau should be in the Hall of Fame as a player. He is
tied for seventh, still, on the NFLís all-time interceptions list. If not as a
player, then he should be in there as a contributor.

I believe the day he decides to step down as a coordinator, then the
next year, because contributors donít have a mandatory five-year waiting period like players do, he will be in the Hall of Fame.

What Dick LeBeau has done for defense in general, and for the NFL
and the way we process things on the defensive side of it, makes him
deserve the honor. He has been doing the zone-blitz schemes forever,
doing it before it was trendy because he invented it. I believe he will get his due, but if you know him you know heís not worried about that stuff. But at the end of day good things happen to good people, and I
believe Dick LeBeau will be in the Hall of Fame.

I remember going back and looking at Dickís statistics as a player
when he was my defensive coordinator and defensive backs coach
when I was in Pittsburgh.

The question was always, why isnít this guy in the Hall of Fame? I
understand he played cornerback on a Lions team opposite Night Train
Lane and itís hard to have dual people go in from one secondary, but if
people really understood the sport, what he did and accomplished in his 14 years, then he would be in the Hall of Fame already.

I donít know if you can go in as a player and contributor, but he should be in there based on two different categories. He has done a
tremendous job as a player and is still doing an outstanding job as a
defensive coordinator by bringing the zone blitz to life and to the National Football League.

ē There are only 200-some guys enshrined in the Pro Football Hall of
Fame, and just to be nominated, as I was for the Class of 2009 is a privilege and an honor. Of course we donít vote. There are writers who
make that decision, but if you get inducted you are one of the best to
ever play in the NFL.

There are about 1,800 players on rosters throughout the NFL every
season, so you are talking hundreds of thousands of players who have
come through this league over the years, and they are saying you are
one of the 200-some best players ever to do it.

That is a tremendous honor.

ēWhen you are inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, they
donít put a uniform on you, but if they made me choose, without a
doubt I would choose the Steelers uniform.

I had my best years in Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh, still to me, is my home
even though I donít live there physically. Once you wear the blackand-
gold you bleed black-and gold.

When I was with other teams and played against the Steelers I couldnít root for them, but once I retired and became a spectator, I became a true fan of the Steelers.

I always want to see them do well just for the fact that the Rooneys are awesome people. The Steelers Nation is strong across the country. You can be anywhere in this country and you are going to run into Steelers fans.

Iron Shiek
12-01-2008, 05:40 PM

That was awesome. I feel I am a better fan for having read that.


12-01-2008, 05:42 PM
I hope he goes in as a Steeler....

...thats for you D :wink: :D

stlrz d
12-01-2008, 09:16 PM
I hope he goes in as a Steeler....

...thats for you D :wink: :D