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SteelHead
05-19-2009, 02:39 PM
http://news.steelers.com/article/105491/


LeBeau dreams up a new defensive package
Tuesday, May 19, 2009

By Teresa Varley
Steelers.com
To say that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau eats, sleeps and breaths football is not an understatement.

The mastermind behind the Steelers defense that was once again ranked number one in the NFL last season laid out a new defensive package for the team at OTAs on Tuesday and it came to him the night before.

He gave us a new defense today that he thought about last night when he was in bed, said an amazed James Farrior. He drew something up for us today. We expect stuff like that from Coach LeBeau.

This offseason is no different. We probably have about 10 new calls right now. They are going to keep coming. Its the same every year, new calls in and tweaking stuff to make us better. He has a great mind.

While the players do come to expect this kind of thing from LeBeau, they know how lucky they are to have him working his magic on the defensive scheme.

He is constantly thinking of ways we can do better, said defensive end Brett Keisel. We put in a whole new package today that the wizard came up with last night. He was making some potion and somehow these Xs and Os came up and it worked really well today so I am sure its something we will use.

Keisel, who credits LeBeau and the other Steelers coaches with the success he has had in his career, knows that the new ideas will keep coming week after week because LeBeau is not someone who will ever let the team rest on their laurels.

He is never satisfied with where we are, said Keisel. The last few years, I think three out of the last five, we finished number one here and its never enough for him.

He sometimes shows us this ring he has and its the Super Bowl XL ring and its never enough. He wants to have 10. Once he has 10 he will have to start putting them on his toes.



I have a feeling Ziggy will figure into some of these new wrinkles this year. With his ability to get off the ball and rush the passer in our 2 d-lineman 3rd down packages it could really open up some different schemes on the back end. You gotta love bad words passion for the game. It will be a sad , sad day when he decides to hang it up.

Oracle
05-19-2009, 03:25 PM
i know they're saying to the media that they draft hood to play 3-4 DE but i think they've got a few other tricks up their sleeve. He's an interior pass rusher. that's what he does best. i wouldn't be a bit surprised to see him lined up at DT on a 4-3 front to rush the QB from time to time. Or drop back into hot coverage on corner/fire blitzes.

Oviedo
05-19-2009, 03:41 PM
Despite the naysayers, the 4-3 is coming :stirpot

RuthlessBurgher
05-19-2009, 04:04 PM
i know they're saying to the media that they draft hood to play 3-4 DE but i think they've got a few other tricks up their sleeve. He's an interior pass rusher. that's what he does best. i wouldn't be a bit surprised to see him lined up at DT on a 4-3 front to rush the QB from time to time. Or drop back into hot coverage on corner/fire blitzes.

I think, as a rookie, the only playing time Ziggy will get will be as a DT in a four man front in nickel and dime defenses where he can rush the passer. It will take him some time to adjust to a role as a 3-4 DE (but he will eventually get there...possibly as a starter in 2010 if they are not able to resign Keisel).

TallyStiller
05-19-2009, 05:05 PM
Wondering if 4-3 might be in the offing sooner than we think... Casey is a FA after this season, and will not likely be cost effective to re - sign... let Keisel walk as well, and all of a sudden there is a lot of potential flexibility in terms of personnel there. Say, Smitty, Hoke (who has always been more the 1 gap, penetrating type of tackle anyways), Ziggy, and Woodley down, Harrison playing a 4 - 3 Sam with Farrior in the middle and Timmons moving to a Will backer like he played in college. Or if we want to go smaller up front, use Ziggy and Smitty inside and put Woodley and Davis at the ends... still the same general idea, though, and a direction we may be headed like it or not due to finances.

Oviedo
05-19-2009, 05:11 PM
Wondering if 4-3 might be in the offing sooner than we think... Casey is a FA after this season, and will not likely be cost effective to re - sign... let Keisel walk as well, and all of a sudden there is a lot of potential flexibility in terms of personnel there. Say, Smitty, Hoke (who has always been more the 1 gap, penetrating type of tackle anyways), Ziggy, and Woodley down, Harrison playing a 4 - 3 Sam with Farrior in the middle and Timmons moving to a Will backer like he played in college. Or if we want to go smaller up front, use Ziggy and Smitty inside and put Woodley and Davis at the ends... still the same general idea, though, and a direction we may be headed like it or not due to finances.

I've been saying the same thing for 2 years but everyone wants to pretend like it could never happen. You could even run a hybrid this year with Woodley as a "swing" player who goes between 4-3 DE and 3-4 LB. That way you could essentially keep the same players on the field and switch on the fly.

BURGH86STEEL
05-19-2009, 05:30 PM
Wondering if 4-3 might be in the offing sooner than we think... Casey is a FA after this season, and will not likely be cost effective to re - sign... let Keisel walk as well, and all of a sudden there is a lot of potential flexibility in terms of personnel there. Say, Smitty, Hoke (who has always been more the 1 gap, penetrating type of tackle anyways), Ziggy, and Woodley down, Harrison playing a 4 - 3 Sam with Farrior in the middle and Timmons moving to a Will backer like he played in college. Or if we want to go smaller up front, use Ziggy and Smitty inside and put Woodley and Davis at the ends... still the same general idea, though, and a direction we may be headed like it or not due to finances.

I've been saying the same thing for 2 years but everyone wants to pretend like it could never happen. You could even run a hybrid this year with Woodley as a "swing" player who goes between 4-3 DE and 3-4 LB. That way you could essentially keep the same players on the field and switch on the fly.

2 years and still no change. I don't think Tomlin will mess with the defense when it is not broken.

Oracle
05-19-2009, 06:50 PM
while i don't expect to see a pure 4-3 in 2009 or 2010. it's very likely we see some hybrid or flex packages very soon. that's what lebeau does best. disguise his looks. we have a few different guys who are flexible enough to position themselves either hand down or standing up, and then either rush or drop back (ex- harrison 99 yard INT) while still being able to adjust to pass or run if they happen to guess wrong. if dicky has the right personnel he can do some amazing things. the more i think about it, hood must have been a deliberate choice based on his skill set because he sure doesn't look like a prototypical steeler 3-4 DE. i also don't think tomlin's preference will come into play as long as lebeau is around. his results are too good to go forcing a change based on philosophy.

stlrz d
05-19-2009, 08:07 PM
Wondering if 4-3 might be in the offing sooner than we think... Casey is a FA after this season, and will not likely be cost effective to re - sign... let Keisel walk as well, and all of a sudden there is a lot of potential flexibility in terms of personnel there. Say, Smitty, Hoke (who has always been more the 1 gap, penetrating type of tackle anyways), Ziggy, and Woodley down, Harrison playing a 4 - 3 Sam with Farrior in the middle and Timmons moving to a Will backer like he played in college. Or if we want to go smaller up front, use Ziggy and Smitty inside and put Woodley and Davis at the ends... still the same general idea, though, and a direction we may be headed like it or not due to finances.

I've been saying the same thing for 2 years but everyone wants to pretend like it could never happen. You could even run a hybrid this year with Woodley as a "swing" player who goes between 4-3 DE and 3-4 LB. That way you could essentially keep the same players on the field and switch on the fly.

I predict next season the first sentence of that post will be, "I've been saying the same thing for 3 years but everyone wants to pretend like it could never happen."

:P

steelernation77
05-19-2009, 08:39 PM
The 4-3 will not happen.

Why? Because it'd be effin idiotic.

When you train all your players to play a 3-4 , it'd be dumb to make them switch positions and have totally different responsibilities

The Steelers had one of the best defenses in franchise history last season, I really don't see why the team would change, or why any of you would even be slightly enthusiastic about a change.

mshifko
05-19-2009, 09:17 PM
ziggy's going to fit in fine with this defense...i don't expect too much from the get go, but i can easily see him helping out this year...his size/athleticism will allow us to do a lot of different things from that DE spot

i love seeing stories like this about lebeau coming up with new stuff...so glad we have the coaching staff we do, no reason we can't have another successful season

papillon
05-19-2009, 10:10 PM
Lets say the Steelers convert some linemen to 43 linemen and switch some backers to fit the 43, etc. Do we have the right athletes and secondary players to play a 43? That's the question.

Pappy

feltdizz
05-20-2009, 12:09 AM
The 4-3 will not happen.

Why? Because it'd be effin idiotic.

When you train all your players to play a 3-4 , it'd be dumb to make them switch positions and have totally different responsibilities

The Steelers had one of the best defenses in franchise history last season, I really don't see why the team would change, or why any of you would even be slightly enthusiastic about a change.

going to the 4-3 would be like trading Big Ben for Michael Vick...

why the hell would we change to the 4-3 when we already have stunts that mirror the 4-3 and our D was #1?

talk about changing just to change.

phillyesq
05-20-2009, 07:55 AM
The 4-3 will not happen.

Why? Because it'd be effin idiotic.

When you train all your players to play a 3-4 , it'd be dumb to make them switch positions and have totally different responsibilities

The Steelers had one of the best defenses in franchise history last season, I really don't see why the team would change, or why any of you would even be slightly enthusiastic about a change.

going to the 4-3 would be like trading Big Ben for Michael Vick...

why the hell would we change to the 4-3 when we already have stunts that mirror the 4-3 and our D was #1?

talk about changing just to change.

Count me among those who hates the idea of a 4-3. The Steelers run the 3-4 better than anybody -- just look at their defensive rankings over the years. Why change?

If you assume, for the sake of argument, that the Steelers go 4-3, and use Smith, Hoke, Hood and Woodley, where is the depth? You're going to teach two guys in their 30s new responsibilities, with no depth behind them, and take an extremely effective 3-4 OLB and convert him to DE. Why? What is the appeal? I just don't get it.

flippy
05-20-2009, 08:02 AM
3-4, 4-3, 2-5 who cares what we call it??? We've got players with positional flexibility that can be used in a lot of creative ways.

When you look at some of our recent top picks (Timmons, Wood, Hood) they seemed better suited for a 4-3. But then you have Harrison and Hampton are built for the 3-4 and those are our 2 most valuable guys in the system.

And then Smitty, Keisel, and Farrior all could work in either system, but they're all getting older.

Whatever we do, let's just put the best 7 guys on the field together and figure out how to use the best of their skills to the defense's advantage.

Oviedo
05-20-2009, 08:13 AM
The point you are all missing is how hard it is getting to restock the 3-4 defense. You have a major problem at NT starting next season. This last draft showed how few true 3-4 NTs there are and now you have 12 3-4 teams all wanting the same type of players. You also have the issue of the time it takes to convert player to 3-4 OLBs from college DE.

Remember that we effectively have to ignore a significant part of the college defensive line talent pool that comes out every year because of the unique requirements we have for 3-4 DEs who played DT in college and college DEs that can convert to OLB. Not sure that can continue indefinitely as more and more teams switch to the 3-4 and want the same types of players.

As far as depth on the DL I think it is better than many may think. Remember that the only guy who really doesn't fit is Hampton and he is likely gone after this season. Kiesel would be a very good 4-3 DE as would Woodley. Bruce Davis is a natural 4-3 DE who could rotate to both sides to spell Woodley and Kiesel. Hood and Smith could play DT and Hoke could probably rotate in with them. You are really about 2 players short of a good game day rotation and have not yet factored in Eason, Kirschke, and the rookie Harris (natural 4-3 DT) plus you have Paxson and Clements on the practice squad both of whom are natural 4-3 DTs.

I have no idea whether they would every change and really don't care as long as they remain a top 3 defense. I just bring it up because it is thought provoking and a good off season topic because so much of the other stuff is boring. I would just caution never say never. Not because of our defense slipping but because it all goes back to the talent pool you have to draw from and how many times you can fish the same pond without all the big fish being gone. When you are the only guy there it is much better than 12 other people showing up and fishing the same pond.

papillon
05-20-2009, 08:41 AM
The point you are all missing is how hard it is getting to restock the 3-4 defense. You have a major problem at NT starting next season. This last draft showed how few true 3-4 NTs there are and now you have 12 3-4 teams all wanting the same type of players. You also have the issue of the time it takes to convert player to 3-4 OLBs from college DE.

Remember that we effectively have to ignore a significant part of the college defensive line talent pool that comes out every year because of the unique requirements we have for 3-4 DEs who played DT in college and college DEs that can convert to OLB. Not sure that can continue indefinitely as more and more teams switch to the 3-4 and want the same types of players.

As far as depth on the DL I think it is better than many may think. Remember that the only guy who really doesn't fit is Hampton and he is likely gone after this season. Kiesel would be a very good 4-3 DE as would Woodley. Bruce Davis is a natural 4-3 DE who could rotate to both sides to spell Woodley and Kiesel. Hood and Smith could play DT and Hoke could probably rotate in with them. You are really about 2 players short of a good game day rotation and have not yet factored in Eason, Kirschke, and the rookie Harris (natural 4-3 DT) plus you have Paxson and Clements on the practice squad both of whom are natural 4-3 DTs.

I have no idea whether they would every change and really don't care as long as they remain a top 3 defense. I just bring it up because it is thought provoking and a good off season topic because so much of the other stuff is boring. I would just caution never say never. Not because of our defense slipping but because it all goes back to the talent pool you have to draw from and how many times you can fish the same pond without all the big fish being gone. When you are the only guy there it is much better than 12 other people showing up and fishing the same pond.

What about the back 4? Are the athletes/players we have back there a fit for the 43?

Pappy

RuthlessBurgher
05-20-2009, 08:57 AM
Too bad there weren't message boards in the 70's.

Everyone would have been saying "Why would we ever switch to a 3-4? It will never happen. Our 4-3 defense is the greatest of all time! How can you ever top Greenwood, Greene, Holmes, and White up from with Ham, Lambert, and Russell behind them?"

Slapstick
05-20-2009, 09:24 AM
What about the back 4? Are the athletes/players we have back there a fit for the 43?

Pappy

Yes. The coverage demands in a 4-3 zone scheme versus a 3-4 zone scheme aren't that different...

The Steelers do have some man coverage packages as all NFL teams do, but they play zone for the most part...

ramblinjim
05-20-2009, 09:46 AM
3-4, 4-3, 2-5 who cares what we call it??? We've got players with positional flexibility that can be used in a lot of creative ways.

When you look at some of our recent top picks (Timmons, Wood, Hood) they seemed better suited for a 4-3. But then you have Harrison and Hampton are built for the 3-4 and those are our 2 most valuable guys in the system.

And then Smitty, Keisel, and Farrior all could work in either system, but they're all getting older.

Whatever we do, let's just put the best 7 guys on the field together and figure out how to use the best of their skills to the defense's advantage.


Well said Mr. Flippy. How often do the Steelers run a stock base 3-4 anyway without Lebeau's magic sprinkled in? This defense has so many wrinkles that sometimes it probably looks like a 2-5 or a 1-6 to the opposing offensive coordinators. If we go towards a 4-3 and we have four brawlers on the DL and 3 outstanding backers......I think I'll take that.

Could Harrison play Middle Line-backer in a 4-3? I'm just curious because I have visions of Mike Singletary if that happens....... I realize Harrison may not quite have the size but he has the "mean" to play that spot.

As long as our defense is feared, we can play a 2-5 for all I care.

Slapstick
05-20-2009, 09:50 AM
I've said this before, but the switch to a 4-3 wouldn't have to be the sea change that some people seem to think it is...the players' assignments don't have to be so different...

I wouldn't put Harrison in the middle in a 4-3...he is too good of a pass rusher...I would put him on the strong side so that he could rush off the edge in a zone blitz and because he is probably the Steelers' best tackler...

Oviedo
05-20-2009, 10:05 AM
I've said this before, but the switch to a 4-3 wouldn't have to be the sea change that some people seem to think it is...the players' assignments don't have to be so different...


Exactly. It would not be as hard as many think.

stlrz d
05-20-2009, 11:07 AM
3-4, 4-3, 2-5 who cares what we call it??? We've got players with positional flexibility that can be used in a lot of creative ways.

When you look at some of our recent top picks (Timmons, Wood, Hood) they seemed better suited for a 4-3. But then you have Harrison and Hampton are built for the 3-4 and those are our 2 most valuable guys in the system.

And then Smitty, Keisel, and Farrior all could work in either system, but they're all getting older.

Whatever we do, let's just put the best 7 guys on the field together and figure out how to use the best of their skills to the defense's advantage.

I know our D was good but I still prefer they put 11 men on the field. :P



Oviedo - I get your point about more teams switching to the 3-4 making it tougher to find players, but also keep in mind those teams have to identify and then draft the RIGHT players. The Steelers have excelled at this and there's no guarantee other teams will do as well.

When the Steelers had great success with the 3-4 in the 90s other teams made the switch to the 3-4 thinking they would do as well. They didn't, coaches were fired, they went back to the 4-3 and the Steelers just kept rolling with the 3-4. :)

Oviedo
05-20-2009, 11:29 AM
3-4, 4-3, 2-5 who cares what we call it??? We've got players with positional flexibility that can be used in a lot of creative ways.

When you look at some of our recent top picks (Timmons, Wood, Hood) they seemed better suited for a 4-3. But then you have Harrison and Hampton are built for the 3-4 and those are our 2 most valuable guys in the system.

And then Smitty, Keisel, and Farrior all could work in either system, but they're all getting older.

Whatever we do, let's just put the best 7 guys on the field together and figure out how to use the best of their skills to the defense's advantage.

I know our D was good but I still prefer they put 11 men on the field. :P



Oviedo - I get your point about more teams switching to the 3-4 making it tougher to find players, but also keep in mind those teams have to identify and then draft the RIGHT players. The Steelers have excelled at this and there's no guarantee other teams will do as well.

When the Steelers had great success with the 3-4 in the 90s other teams made the switch to the 3-4 thinking they would do as well. They didn't, coaches were fired, they went back to the 4-3 and the Steelers just kept rolling with the 3-4. :)

I hope that they continue to roll but I have a real concern about the ability to rebuild a 3-4 DL post-Smith, Hampton and Kiesel. It is the NT position that concerns me the most because I just think you have to be elite at that position and those players are fewer and fewer because college defenses are reacting to spread offenses and big run stuffers are not being groomed.

papillon
05-20-2009, 11:42 AM
So, let me see if I understand this as some have advocated. Because other teams are going to the 34 and finding NTs for a 34 will become more and more difficult the Steelers should consider a transition to the 43?

I would propose that as there is more demand for a specific position more college defensive linemen will begin to make themselves available to play that position and thus making it easier to find a quality nose tackle.

I would find it almost unfathomable that because Casey Hampton retires or is released that the Steelers would abandon the #1 defense and its scheme for a new scheme. That would indicate that Hampton should be the highest paid defensive player and he is not.

I don't see it happening while the Steelers are getting quarterback pressure from Harrison, Woodley and now Timmons to the tune of 26-30 sacks per year. The NFL is a passing league and if you can't defend the pass you may as well look to next year. The first step in defending the pass is quarterback pressure and no one did it better than the Steelers last year.

Pappy

Slapstick
05-20-2009, 04:24 PM
So, let me see if I understand this as some have advocated. Because other teams are going to the 34 and finding NTs for a 34 will become more and more difficult the Steelers should consider a transition to the 43?

I would propose that as there is more demand for a specific position more college defensive linemen will begin to make themselves available to play that position and thus making it easier to find a quality nose tackle.

I would find it almost unfathomable that because Casey Hampton retires or is released that the Steelers would abandon the #1 defense and its scheme for a new scheme. That would indicate that Hampton should be the highest paid defensive player and he is not.

I don't see it happening while the Steelers are getting quarterback pressure from Harrison, Woodley and now Timmons to the tune of 26-30 sacks per year. The NFL is a passing league and if you can't defend the pass you may as well look to next year. The first step in defending the pass is quarterback pressure and no one did it better than the Steelers last year.

Pappy

There are lots of different ays to pressure a QB...

Once LeBeau retires, if Tomlin and Butler (the heir presumptive, I suppose) are more comfortable running a 4-3, then so be it...it appears that the players drafted recently and resigned would be more than capable of succeeding in that alignment...

papillon
05-20-2009, 04:35 PM
So, let me see if I understand this as some have advocated. Because other teams are going to the 34 and finding NTs for a 34 will become more and more difficult the Steelers should consider a transition to the 43?

I would propose that as there is more demand for a specific position more college defensive linemen will begin to make themselves available to play that position and thus making it easier to find a quality nose tackle.

I would find it almost unfathomable that because Casey Hampton retires or is released that the Steelers would abandon the #1 defense and its scheme for a new scheme. That would indicate that Hampton should be the highest paid defensive player and he is not.

I don't see it happening while the Steelers are getting quarterback pressure from Harrison, Woodley and now Timmons to the tune of 26-30 sacks per year. The NFL is a passing league and if you can't defend the pass you may as well look to next year. The first step in defending the pass is quarterback pressure and no one did it better than the Steelers last year.

Pappy

There are lots of different ays to pressure a QB...

Once LeBeau retires, if Tomlin and Butler (the heir presumptive, I suppose) are more comfortable running a 4-3, then so be it...it appears that the players drafted recently and resigned would be more than capable of succeeding in that alignment...


If this is how the Steelers get to the 43 then, so be it. I don't see the Steelers in a 43 while D1ck Lebeau draws breath on this earth and he's the Steeler defensive coordinator.

Pappy

Starlifter
05-20-2009, 05:32 PM
nothing more than a total gut feeling BUT every year there's a rookie in the NFL that makes an immediate impact. Think Jevon Kearse, Kendrell Bell etc. One of those players that teams passed on that ends up having everyone ask 'why didn't we pick that guy?'. For some reason I can't explain, I think Ziggy may have a year like that......

Dear god, do we really have over 3 months until the opener?????.........arrrrghhhh.

Slapstick
05-20-2009, 05:43 PM
If this is how the Steelers get to the 43 then, so be it. I don't see the Steelers in a 43 while D1ck Lebeau draws breath on this earth and he's the Steeler defensive coordinator.

Pappy

I agree 100%...but, I believe that Tomlin will be around much longer than LeBeau...