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fordfixer
10-23-2009, 01:14 AM
Harris: LeBeau making winning adjustments

By John Harris, TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Thursday, October 22, 2009
http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsbu ... 49221.html (http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pittsburghtrib/sports/steelers/s_649221.html)

The genius of Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau isn't all that he's accomplished to this point in his illustrious career.

It's what coming next.

If someone knows what new looks the Steelers defense will unveil against Adrian Peterson, Brett Favre and the rest of the Minnesota Vikings on Sunday at Heinz Field, please let me know because I don't have the foggiest idea.

Which is precisely the point.

"It's always exciting when coach LeBeau puts a new defense in because you look at it and say, 'man, I wonder how teams are going to block this?'' outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley said Wednesday.

"You have guys dropping back that you wouldn't expect to drop back. You have guys rushing that you say maybe they should be dropping back.''

Sagely, LeBeau is mixing up his defensive calls like a blackjack dealer shuffles cards.

The spread offense is the new rage in the NFL. Admittedly, the spread presented some problems early this season for the Steelers, who were picked apart uncharacteristically via the short pass in back-to-back losses against Chicago and Cincinnati.

Of course, safety Troy Polamalu missing 4 1/2 games because of a knee injury presented some problems for the Steelers as well, but that's another story.

Give LeBeau major props. He's human. It took him a couple of games to not only figure things out but to incorporate elaborate blitzing schemes to keep offenses guessing.

Stalwarts such as 34-year-old linebacker James Farrior are benefitting from the change.

While retired Pro Bowl defensive lineman Warren Sapp suggested recently on NFL Network that Baltimore linebacker Ray Lewis, also 34, is running around blocks instead of taking them on, and that the Ravens' once dominant defense isn't what it used to be, Farrior is thriving as a key starter on the Steelers' No. 3 ranked defense.

Farrior was credited with five tackles and three quarterback hurries in the Steelers' 27-14 win against Cleveland. He made his biggest impact as an edge rusher, getting after Browns quarterback Derek Anderson.

"Each week it could be a different guy," Farrior said. "It just so happened I was one of the main guys.''

Although listed as an inside linebacker, LeBeau strategically positioned Farrior at outside linebacker in passing situations against Cleveland.

On third-and-10 in the first quarter, Farrior lined up on the left side as Woodley dropped into coverage. Lawrence Timmons, the other inside linebacker, lined up on the right side, replacing outside linebacker James Harrison, who shifted inside and blitzed. Farrior hit Anderson as he passed, forcing an incompletion.

On third-and-10 in the second quarter, Farrior blitzed from the left side, Harrison blitzed from his normal right side, Timmons dropped into coverage, and Anderson threw another incompletion.

Following a third-quarter holding penalty on Cleveland tackle Joe Thomas against Harrison, the Browns faced third-and-16 when LeBeau dialed up Farrior on a blitz. Farrior rushed from the right side, while Timmons came from the left. Farrior's pressure forced Anderson to step up, where he fumbled after being sacked by Timmons and Harrison.

"Great play-calling,'' Woodley said. "Guys are having great success rushing the quarterback. You've got to put them all over the field to keep teams guessing.''

Farrior, who has never appeared quicker as a pass rusher, credits LeBeau.

"When coach LeBeau breaks down tape, he goes back five, six years,'' Farrior said. "What they might do, what they've done in the past. Who the coaches and coordinators have coached with that might give him a key about something. He studies every detail."

BradshawsHairdresser
10-23-2009, 11:33 AM
Not sure if it was genius or not, but even LeBeau had to finally come to the conclusion that Farrior sucks in pass coverage.

Anyway, LeBeau made some adjustments that needed to be made. Let's hope he continues to keep pressure on opposing QBs.

NW Steeler
10-23-2009, 12:19 PM
Good point. May as well have Farrior just blitz straight on, cuz' he doesn't have the speed to cover or chase guys down anymore.

NorthCoast
10-23-2009, 12:22 PM
Again, anyone who minimizes the effect a coordinator can have on a unit is fooling themselves. With NFL teams so close in talent level, it is as much about schemes as anything else. We are truly lucky to have a DC like LeBeau.

SanAntonioSteelerFan
10-23-2009, 01:08 PM
When is Harrison going to get a spin move?

And does the fact that he's always getting pushed wide mean he can't bull rush as effectively as last year?

Did he get pushed wide a lot last year too? ... I can't remember ...