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hawaiiansteel
05-25-2012, 08:54 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers: Dick LeBeau Will Have the Best Defense in the NFL...Again

By Cian Fahey (Featured Columnist) on May 21, 2012

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/images/photos/001/710/091/127886616_crop_650x440.jpg?1337639065

Recently, Jeff Fisher challenged his St. Louis Rams team to lead the league in sacks this year. No disrespect to Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers, but they're unlikely to come anywhere near that goal, especially with the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense taking on a devilish form this off-season.

The Steelers should be the team penetrating opposing passer's pockets most often next year as they have made significant changes this offseason.

AFC North Lead Blogger Andrea Hangst recently wrote that the Baltimore Ravens would have the best defense in the AFC North. While I have a huge amount of respect for my friend's opinion, I strongly disagree and would like to outline my own opinion.

I believe the Steelers' defense will once again be the dominating group it was in 2008, but it will do so in a different style. That year, the Steelers dominated the running game and used that domination to prevent teams from passing against them.

Coaches were terrified to call five or even seven step drops against the Steelers because James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley were so effective coming off the edges. As a result, very few deep passes were completed throughout the whole year against them.

If you have been following my writing this offseason, then you will already know that I believe the Steelers are entering this season with a better secondary than they have had for a long time.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/article/media_slots/photos/000/435/574/109698981_crop_340x234.jpg?1337639106

Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and, to a lesser extent, Curtis Brown add a new dimension to the Steelers defense with their physical abilities. Unlike Deshea Townsend, William Gay and Bryant McFadden, the ghosts of the Steelers recent past at the position, the Steelers' current crop of cornerbacks excel in press man coverage.

Townsend, McFadden and Gay preferred to sit back in zones and rely on their agility to react to the ball and beat receivers to it. While they could not match up physically with their opponents, they could use their intelligence and quickness to get to the ball.

The Steelers' current corners can still do that with the added ability to shut down receivers one-on-one.

Keenan Lewis will move outside as a starter this year while Cortez Allen will become the nickel starter. Allen, in particular, is a fascinating addition. Last year, he shut down Rob Gronkowski when the Steelers beat the Patriots in the regular season.

With this new look secondary, the Steelers can do a multitude of new things.

Playing press coverage will disrupt the timing of opposing teams' offenses and force their quarterbacks to hold onto the football longer than intended.

That is presuming that the Steelers play press coverage on the play rather than look to trap the offense with a feigned coverage. Because the team's cornerbacks have the ability to play both man and zone coverage, the Steelers can mix more complex coverage schemes without exposing anyone, as they did in the past with William Gay and Ryan Clark.

More often than not, Clark was great last year when playing zone coverage. With better cornerback play, he will be able to carry out his own job without hesitation. While Clark will remain deep in zone, Troy Polamalu will be able to move closer to the line of scrimmage with more regularity this year than last.

Polamalu in the box is Polamalu at his best. He may not get as many interceptions if he moves closer to the line, but his overall impact on the opposing offense multiplies. Quarterbacks fear Polamalu, and when he is closer to the line, it is more difficult to see what he is going to do. Quarterbacks will generally check where he is after the snap when he is closer to the line.

The result of that? More hesitation. Meaning more time for the Steelers' pass rush.

It is not only the coverage that will help the Steelers' defense this year.

There is no doubt that losing Casey Hampton for however long will significantly hurt their run defense, but Steve McLendon showed last year that he can man the position for a stint. McLendon is certainly not Casey Hampton, but he is a two-way nose tackle opposed to a run stuffing specialist.

With McLendon on the field, the Steelers can expect a better push on the interior of the line.

Last year's first round draft pick, Cameron Heyward, should also take a step forward entering his second season. Heyward is a better pass rushing defensive end than both Evander Hood and Brett Keisel. He should see a lot of time in sub packages and the defensive line rotation.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/article/media_slots/photos/000/435/575/136322829_crop_340x234.jpg?1337639167

Sub packages and third downs will be pivotal this year for the Steelers' defense.

Last year, with James Farrior in the lineup, the Steelers were handicapped on third down. By the end of the year, Farrior was splitting time with Larry Foote because Farrior couldn't cope in coverage. When Farrior was on the field on third downs, he more often than not blitzing the quarterback.

Farrior is not a good blitzer to begin with. Add to that, his blitzes became predictable for opposing offenses to the point that they could pick him up before the snap and easily handle him. Larry Foote's presence on the field will improve the defense as a whole and allow the Steelers to blitz the explosive Lawrence Timmons more often.

Both Timmons and Foote are versatile enough to blitz or drop in coverage so the unit as a whole will be less predictable.

However, Foote himself may not be on the field on third downs this year.

Depending on how he copes in the preseason, third round pick Sean Spence could see significant time on the field for the Steelers in sub packages. Spence is a linebacker who dropped to the third round in the draft because of his size. His speed, however, could make him a very versatile option for the Steelers on third downs.

Much like Polamalu and Timmons, Spence would give the Steelers a physical specimen to maraud around the field or to send after the quarterback. Spence's best fit appears to be as a 4-3 OLB, but with the Steelers, he will be able to focus on this specific role in the nickel defense.

While Casey Hampton isn't likely to be available for Week 1 this year, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley will be.

Last year, both starting outside linebackers missed games at different times. James Harrison broke his orbital bone against the Houston Texans and missed four games. He was also suspended for Week 15. He finished the season with nine sacks in 11 games.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/article/media_slots/photos/000/435/578/130151478_crop_340x234.jpg?1337639237

Woodley was a much greater loss.

After Harrison missed a chunk of the first half of the season, Woodley went out with a hamstring injury in Week 8 and never returned to full fitness, despite appearing in the playoffs.

Prior to going out, Woodley was on one of his hot streaks. When they lost Harrison, Woodley notched 7.5 sacks in the next four games and finished the season with nine in 10 appearances.

Those nine came in eight games when Woodley was actually healthy.

Considering he did that with Jason Worilds and Lawrence Timmons starting across from him, the possibilities are endless when he plays with Harrison while they are both healthy. The exposure that Worilds and Chris Carter got last year can only have helped them.

That can come in handy if the Steelers want to bring in more pass rushers in sub packages like the New York Giants did last year.

The versatility of the Steelers defense entering this season is phenomenal. With a mad scientist like Dick LeBeau running the group, the prospects of what the Steelers will do this year makes me quiver slightly.

And I'm not even in the firing line.

Like the Steelers showed against the New England Patriots last year, they are not stubborn to the extent that they will always stick to their rigid 3-4 defense. LeBeau will use every possible player at his disposal to help the team.

He may have been forced to do so during that game last year, but the results can only encourage him to do it more moving forward.

Last year, NBC analyst Warren Sapp said this defense was "old, slow and over." It finished first in total defense and scoring.

This year, it's fast, young and experienced, or, in other words, the best defense in the NFL. No, not the AFC North...the N.F.L.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1190877-pittsburgh-steelers-dick-lebeau-will-have-the-best-defense-in-the-nflagain

RuthlessBurgher
05-26-2012, 01:52 PM
Dick LeBeau Will Have the Best Defense in the NFL...Again

And several spoiled Steeler fans will be hoping we get rid of him...Again. :roll:

Flasteel
05-26-2012, 02:48 PM
A lot of great points in this article...especially the ability to play both zone and press-man coverages. This is an evolution in LeBeau's philosophy of keeping everything on front of the defense and limiting the big play. He was chewed up underneath by so many smart accurate quarterbacks for so long, that he finally had no choice but to change.

It promises to be a huge upgrade to the defense, but it still will come down to the health of Woodley and Harrison. If we can't mount the outside rush, then we're screwed. I'm not as confident in Worlids and Carter as this author is. That said...I'm loving the potential of both our offense and defense more than maybe any other offseason.

RuthlessBurgher
05-26-2012, 03:00 PM
I'm loving the potential of both our offense and defense more than maybe any other offseason.

Haven't you heard? Our old senile D.C. refuses to change and never plays young talented players, and our new golf coach yinzer O.C. plans to turn us back into a 70's smashmouth offense and convert Ben Roethlisberger into Carson Palmer. Yoi! ;)

Flasteel
05-26-2012, 03:11 PM
Haven't you heard? Our old senile D.C. refuses to change and never plays young talented players, and our new golf coach yinzer O.C. plans to turn us back into a 70's smashmouth offense and convert Ben Roethlisberger into Carson Palmer. Yoi! ;)

Yeah, I've heard that noise somewhere. I think it was on a Ravens board or something.:p

Crash
05-26-2012, 03:37 PM
Yay. Hopefully he'll finally realize games are 60 minutes instead of 45.

Any fan who takes "pride" in their 2011 "#1 ranking" after the way Joe Flacco and Tim Tebow humiliated them is more of a fan of Dick LeBeau than they are of this football team.

Slapstick
05-26-2012, 03:41 PM
Yay. Hopefully he'll finally realize games are 60 minutes instead of 45.

Any fan who takes "pride" in their 2011 "#1 ranking" after the way Joe Flacco and Tim Tebow humiliated them is more of a fan of Dick LeBeau than they are of this football team.

So LeBeau's defense played well for 45 minutes and poorly for 15...

By way of comparison, Arians' offense played well for 15 minutes and poorly for 45...

So, it's LeBeau's fault...

Crash
05-26-2012, 03:50 PM
So LeBeau's defense played well for 45 minutes and poorly for 15...

By way of comparison, Arians' offense played well for 15 minutes and poorly for 45...

So, it's LeBeau's fault...

The defense has all the money Slap. $130 MILLION on defensive players alone last off season.

LeBeau's defense also struggled to open games, I believe 6 times they allowed teams to score on their opening drive.

They aren't old, slow, and done.

LeBeau's scheme however, is predictable, stale, and outdated.

hawaiiansteel
05-26-2012, 03:57 PM
The defense has all the money. $130 MILLION on defensive players alone last off season.



well, the offense does have this one player who is getting paid more than $100 million...

Crash
05-26-2012, 04:03 PM
well, the offense does have this one player who is getting paid more than $100 million...

Over 8 years.

But most of the BIG money, is on defense. Guys like Farrior, Smith, Ike, Troy, Hampton, James, Kiesel, they were all around close to a decade EACH. Do you know how much money that is when all of them see at least their 2nd (and more lucrative contract?)

While the offense, except for Hines and Heath, has been nothing but constant change since Ben was drafted.

BURGH86STEEL
05-26-2012, 04:09 PM
Over 8 years.

But most of the BIG money, is on defense. Guys like Farrior, Smith, Ike, Troy, Hampton, James, Kiesel, they were all around close to a decade EACH. Do you know how much money that is when all of them see at least their 2nd (and more lucrative contract?)

While the offense, except for Hines and Heath, has been nothing but constant change since Ben was drafted.

The defense had been under constant change since Ben was drafted.

Why don't you hold Ben accountable for the offenses inability to score more points?

hawaiiansteel
05-26-2012, 04:11 PM
Over 8 years.

But most of the BIG money, is on defense. Guys like Farrior, Smith, Ike, Troy, Hampton, James, Kiesel, they were all around close to a decade EACH. Do you know how much money that is when all of them see at least their 2nd (and more lucrative contract?)

While the offense, except for Hines and Heath, has been nothing but constant change since Ben was drafted.


three Super Bowl appearances in the last six years, winning two of them.

that strategy seems to be working...

Crash
05-26-2012, 07:35 PM
three Super Bowl appearances in the last six years, winning two of them.

that strategy seems to be working...

Then don't b*tch when the offense has issues when the defense has all the money.

Funny, the defense has all this big money for years, and yet the #1 priority for the offense, is to "protect" them.

Crash
05-26-2012, 07:39 PM
The defense had been under constant change since Ben was drafted.

I just named 6 guys on this defense who have been here almost 10 years each.

Now how many have Ben with Ben since 2004? Hines. Heath, Max. And Max was brought back last season and started the first two seasons of the Tomlin Era on the bench.

Ben is 30, and he's the OLDEST starter on his offense.

How many different #1 RBs? How many different #1-#2 WR combos? Centers? RTs? Guards?

Crash
05-26-2012, 07:40 PM
The defense had been under constant change since Ben was drafted.

Why don't you hold Ben accountable for the offenses inability to score more points?

Why don't you hold the defense accountable for 15 turnovers all year?

When they run the ball 58% on 1st down and 65% on first down in the red zone? I'm not going to blame Ben for handing the ball off.

Slapstick
05-26-2012, 08:29 PM
21st in scoring.

All the money is on defense? Isn't Ben the highest paid player on the team?

If Mendenhall makes it back in time for TC, there will be five 1st round picks starting on offense (Ben, Rashard, Heath, Pouncey, and DeCastro) along with two 2nd round picks (Gilbert and Adams) and a guy who was given a 1st round tender (Wallace)...the offense has talent in abundance...

Crash
05-26-2012, 08:42 PM
Isn't Ben the highest paid player on the team?

And like I said, $130 MILLION on three defensive players last year.

In a league thats phasing out defense.

Smart move.

Slapstick
05-26-2012, 09:07 PM
5 first round picks on offense...

2 second round picks on offense...

Wallace who received a 1st round tender...

BURGH86STEEL
05-26-2012, 09:56 PM
Why don't you hold the defense accountable for 15 turnovers all year?

When they run the ball 58% on 1st down and 65% on first down in the red zone? I'm not going to blame Ben for handing the ball off.
I agree the defense needs to create more turnovers going forward. The loss of Woodley and Harrison last season hurt the defenses ability to create turnovers. That tends to happen when a team loses it's best two pass rushers and they are not 100%. Even when the defense created turnovers, Ben had problems putting the ball in the end zone 30+ times. Steelers defense gave up less ppg then any defense in the league.

That sure looks like selective % picking. Regardless of the %'s, Ben needs to produce more passing TD's when the opportunities are presented. There were many opportunities where he could had passed for more TD's last season but didn't deliver. Maybe if Ben can throw for more TD's it will minimize the opportunity for 4th QT come backs for opposition.

I am not as excited about the offense as many. We will see different formations and play designs but the orchestrator of the offense on the field will be the same. I believe there are going to be some growing pains for the offense. The offensive line may struggle at times due to lack of playing time together. It may take 2 to 3 seasons for Ben to be comfortable within the offense. I am not convinced that Ben will put in the extra work necessary to become a consistent 30+ TD QB in Haley's offense. Ben's helped this team win a lot of games doing things his way. I am not sure his way of doing things will be as effective as he ages. Play smarter, not tougher.

Crash
05-27-2012, 01:12 AM
That sure looks like selective % picking. Regardless of the %'s, Ben needs to produce more passing TD's when the opportunities are presented.

Then start using him. Case in point, Texans game, down 10-7 we get a first down deep in Texans territory.

Reverse to Brown.

HB option pass (not thrown) to Moore.

Shotgun draw to Redman, stuffed.

Three chances to take the lead down 3 points, Ben didn't see the ball ONCE.


I am not convinced that Ben will put in the extra work necessary to become a consistent 30+ TD QB in Haley's offense.

Ben will never get 30 TDs in Haley's offense even when he's playing well because we have to appease management and run the ball.

If Ben throws for 30 TDs in any season after II's run the ball emphasis? The defense is having bad year and we miss the playoffs.


Ben's helped this team win a lot of games doing things his way. I am not sure his way of doing things will be as effective as he ages. Play smarter, not tougher.

Use Ben, appreciate Ben, and stop worrying about obsessing over the running game. Then the rest takes care of itself.

They don't want to do that? Send him on his way. The majority of his work comes from inside the pocket anyway. If they want to take away the minute amount of improvising he does? Why are you paying him?

NorthCoast
05-27-2012, 08:32 AM
Dont agree with the writer that Troy's best value is when he plays close to the line. He makes most of his gamechanging plays when covering deep. Plus, his age means he has to watch how many hits he takes with the big boys at the LOS.

RuthlessBurgher
05-27-2012, 08:45 PM
more of a fan of Dick LeBeau than they are of this football team.

Coming from a guy who considers one player in particular to be the ultimate speciman who cannot possibly ever do anything wrong, but considers everyone else associated with this team (from the owner to the front office to the coaches to the other players to the fans) to be complete buffoons...that's rich.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Crash
05-28-2012, 12:30 AM
Coming from a guy who considers one player in particular to be the ultimate speciman who cannot possibly ever do anything wrong, but considers everyone else associated with this team (from the owner to the front office to the coaches to the other players to the fans) to be complete buffoons...that's rich.

Pot. Kettle. Black.

Not accurate. I've ripped Ben for poor play when it's warranted.

But the way fans, media, even ownership protect LeBeau is laughable.

Discipline of Steel
05-28-2012, 06:44 AM
Richard LeBeau will be the first person inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame twice, once as a player and a second time as a coach.

birtikidis
05-28-2012, 08:23 AM
We shoulda let all those big money players on d walk. The we coulda had the highest paid offense that couldn't score. And we should have reached for every possible first round target we could. And we should fire the architect of one of the best defenses of all time. And we should throw every play.

Jooser
05-28-2012, 09:57 AM
Ignore button in 3, 2, 1..... but, I'd virtually be ignoring the bulk of every thread, seeing how one person invades, no INFESTS every thread and turns it into their own personal crusade to eviscerate D!ck Lebeau, the defense, the front office, the Rooneys, or anything else not Ben Roethlisberger or Bruce Arians related. This is getting old quick. Seriously, come out of the closet, troll, and declare your love for Ozzie and the Ratbirds, or at least go join their forum and explain how bad their organization is to those fans because frankly we don't care how bad you think the Steelers organization is. We love the Steelers and the family and front office that run it.

Rant off...

-Joos

Crash
05-28-2012, 01:55 PM
Richard LeBeau will be the first person inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame twice, once as a player and a second time as a coach.

Um, no. He won't be.

Crash
05-28-2012, 02:03 PM
Ignore button in 3, 2, 1..... but, I'd virtually be ignoring the bulk of every thread, seeing how one person invades, no INFESTS every thread and turns it into their own personal crusade to eviscerate D!ck Lebeau, the defense, the front office, the Rooneys, or anything else not Ben Roethlisberger or Bruce Arians related. This is getting old quick. Seriously, come out of the closet, troll, and declare your love for Ozzie and the Ratbirds, or at least go join their forum and explain how bad their organization is to those fans because frankly we don't care how bad you think the Steelers organization is. We love the Steelers and the family and front office that run it.Rant off...-JoosAre you done?

Crash
05-28-2012, 02:11 PM
We shoulda let all those big money players on d walk. The we coulda had the highest paid offense that couldn't score. And we should have reached for every possible first round target we could. And we should fire the architect of one of the best defenses of all time. And we should throw every play.What's the point of shelling out all this money on defense if LeBeau continues to back off and not put them in position to make plays late in games? You clowns don't get it, I WANT LEBEAU TO ALLOW HIS PLAYERS TO PLAY THE SAME WAY IN THE 4TH QUARTER AS THEY DO IN QUARTERS 1-3. How many more 4th quarter leads do they have to blow before you guys get the hint?

Don't have to throw every play. But you can't stay as predictable as they are on first down and expect the offense to have success. Near 50-50 on first down, that has to be the goal. If it isn't? Haley has failed.

If they want a full back? Go get a full back and send David Johnson on his way. They want to start using RBs out of the backfield as pass catchers? Go sign LT to be the 3rd down back.

Don't make changes just for the sake of doing it. Add legitimate pieces to the offense so those changes can succeed as well.

birtikidis
05-28-2012, 03:24 PM
What's the point of shelling out all this money on defense if LeBeau continues to back off and not put them in position to make plays late in games? You clowns don't get it, I WANT LEBEAU TO ALLOW HIS PLAYERS TO PLAY THE SAME WAY IN THE 4TH QUARTER AS THEY DO IN QUARTERS 1-3. How many more 4th quarter leads do they have to blow before you guys get the hint?
I would say the same for the offense. For years we've gotten conservative in the fourth quarter. Then when we NEED a play we haven't made it. I can think of a few examples, but the one that stands out in my mind the most is when we lost to the Bengals a year or two ago. The D was struggling, but we were winning. Then there's a pick 6.

Don't have to throw every play. But you can't stay as predictable as they are on first down and expect the offense to have success. Near 50-50 on first down, that has to be the goal. If it isn't? Haley has failed.
I agree. that's why we need to be more effecient at running the ball. As of right now, our best weapon, the play action, is totally out of the repetoire because we can't run the ball effectively. I'd love to see Ben fake the hand off, the full back draw the MLB to the line of scrimmage and then see Ben roll out and throw it to Wallace one on one. But since we can't run the ball, we don't draw the safeties to the box. Since the safeties are deep Wallace is double covered. Since BA sold his soul for the deep ball, and the bubble screen isn't there, the play doesn't work.
If they want a full back? Go get a full back and send David Johnson on his way. They want to start using RBs out of the backfield as pass catchers? Go sign LT to be the 3rd down back.
I totally agree. except, we have a guy who can catch out the back field. It's what Mendenhall was supposed to be good at.
Don't make changes just for the sake of doing it. Add legitimate pieces to the offense so those changes can succeed as well.
Exactly. We've had the best defense in the league for years. We jump all over the defense, but fans forget that we were without James and Wood for a good part of the year. Don't change just because you think we need to. But also remember the situation.

I'm stressed and at work, so if some of that doesn't make sense, blame it on drug addicts, cause they're pi$$ing me off.

Crash
05-28-2012, 03:39 PM
I would say the same for the offense. For years we've gotten conservative in the fourth quarter. Then when we NEED a play we haven't made it. I can think of a few examples, but the one that stands out in my mind the most is when we lost to the Bengals a year or two ago. The D was struggling, but we were winning. Then there's a pick 6.

The pick 6 was in the first half. They had a 20-9 lead in the 4th quarter when they decided to do what people want and try to run the ball. We all saw how that turned out because LeBeau had his defense (that gave up 3 points all day before the 4th quarter) play back.

birtikidis
05-28-2012, 03:44 PM
was that the game with the kick return for a td in the 4th?

Crash
05-28-2012, 03:45 PM
was that the game with the kick return for a td in the 4th?

No. They had a big lead in Cincy.

Crash
05-28-2012, 03:46 PM
In fact the first 3 points they gave up in Cincy that year LeBeau had his defense play prevent on that series also.

That happens a lot too. In the last 5 minutes of the 1st half? If we're on defense? We are in prevent.

Discipline of Steel
05-28-2012, 09:47 PM
Um, no. He won't be.

Well...my opinion carries just as much weight as yours. In fact, mine might carry a bit more since Ive been a Steeler fan since the early 70s and you are, what, 17 ?

Crash
05-28-2012, 10:30 PM
Well...my opinion carries just as much weight as yours. In fact, mine might carry a bit more since Ive been a Steeler fan since the early 70s and you are, what, 17 ?

Assistant coaches will not be inducted into the HOF.

Reality please.

hawaiiansteel
06-01-2012, 01:50 AM
Dick LeBeau - 5/30 Video from Steelers.com:

http://www.steelers.com/video-and-audio/videos/Dick-LeBeau---5-30/96475711-827c-484d-9347-5d42ee075f5a

hawaiiansteel
06-05-2012, 03:47 PM
Steelers News Bulletin: LeBeau vs. Belichick

by Neal Coolong on Jun 4, 2012

http://cdn3.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/4244633/127886616_extra_large.jpg

Random thoughts often go through my head during the day. One landed today to the point I wanted to scrawl it out and see how it took.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is well known for his ability to put his system first, demand his players follow it to a T and in that, utilize those players to the best of their abilities.

He is dynamic with his defense (serving as the defensive coordinator), presenting multiple looks through several successful seasons.

Dick LeBeau contrasts with that philosophy in a few ways. LeBeau is static in his base approach. There are wrinkles, obviously, but Pittsburgh’s base defense has been a 3-4 for going on two decades now. LeBeau does just fine getting the most out of his players (Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison wasn’t drafted, Joey Porter was a third round pick, Ike Taylor barely even played cornerback when he was selected in the fourth round), but his approach is much more consistent – conservative even.

Yet, both coaches have multiple Super Bowls, and will go down as two of the better defensive minds of their era.

Thinking about it from a bigger picture perspective, it seems Belichick’s philosophy really leans on his confidence in his coaching ability, eye for talent and trusting of his position coaches to execute an ever-changing defensive strategy.

LeBeau’s suggests he trust his players – longtime veterans like Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark – understand the defense he’s coached, and will always be able to adjust when necessary.

Not that either of them are incapable of doing what the other does, they just choose their own way. Lots of different ways to get from Washington, D.C. to Manhattan.

Maybe that philosophy hindered Belichick’s defense last year. They ranked at or near the bottom in yards allowed, and not particularly impressive in points allowed, either. His borderline amazing ability to maintain a quality secondary filled with younger, lower-level prospects hit a bit of a snag last season, and while scoring big on linebackers like Jared Mayo (first round pick) and Rob Ninkovich (very underrated free agent signing), his team’s pass rush was weak at best. And yet, they still made the Super Bowl.

How often will Belichick’s defense, statistically, be as poor as they were in 2011? They put up great performances in two playoff wins (Ninkovich did what the Steelers could not, contain QB Tim Tebow), and it’s tough to label their Super Bowl loss to New York as a defensive breakdown.

While the Steelers’ one-and-out playoff performance wasn’t a shimmering example of LeBeau’s excellence, they led the NFL in scoring defense for the second straight year, and that was with several veterans in the front seven missing extensive time (every week, a starter was missing and each front seven starter missed at least one game, except ILB Lawrence Timmons - but he was moved out of position due to those injuries several times). They led the league in scoring and pass yards allowed, but they were among the bottom half of the league in sacks, and had, I believe, the lowest takeaway total ever for a playoff team. It’s hard to say this defense will be much, if any, less than what it was last year.

Doesn’t it seem as if these two teams – both with reason to believe their offenses will score a fair amount of points this year – are on a collision course? Is this finally the year for two of the game’s best over the last 11 seasons to square off one more time in the playoffs? The Harrisons and the Bradys and the Polamalus and the Wilforks, and the other last-standing members of dynasty-level teams, doing battle to settle it all? Maybe I’ve just wiped the dust off some bad 2001 memories courtesy of Mr. DeFeo’s column on Kordell Stewart, but I think the Patriots and Steelers will square off twice this year.

And the second one will be epic.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/6/4/3063243/Pittsburgh-steelers-new-england-patriots-dick-lebeau-bill-belichick#storyjump

hawaiiansteel
06-08-2012, 06:55 PM
LeBeau: Steelers defense will be fine

June 8, 2012 12:00 am
By Ed Bouchette / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette


Three months from tomorrow, the Steelers will open the 2012 season where they ended their 2011 season five months ago today.

Denver! Slowly they turned, step by step, inch by inch. They do not wish to replay that old Niagara Falls trick of theirs in Denver when they open this season Sept. 9.

It hit particularly hard a defense that finished the regular season as the best in the NFL in several important categories, but one that was shredded by Broncos quarterback Tim Tebow. If he could do it, what might Peyton Manning do to them this time?

"I sure hope we do a little bit better out there than we did the last time, and we will," coordinator Dick LeBeau promised. "I think we're playing a pretty good quarterback, though."

LeBeau was quick to note that 2011 team ranked No. 1 in scoring defense, total defense and pass defense. Yet, he said he still has no answer for the 316 passing yards Tebow struck them for on 10 completions, including the only play from scrimmage in overtime, his 80-yard touchdown strike to DeMaryius Thomas.

"If I had an answer for that, it wouldn't have happened. But I can tell you this, in the National Football League, a game like that can happen every Sunday, and does happen somewhere around the league. And I don't care what your stats are,

"I don't care who you have out there, the other people have skilled people, too. It only takes a couple plays as we saw, and it's a lot of yards and a lot of points and you end up losing."

LeBeau's defense also took some hits after the season when the Steelers cut linebacker James Farrior, defensive end Aaron Smith, cornerback Bryant McFadden -- all 2011 opening-day starters -- longtime backup nose tackle Chris Hoke retired, and cornerback Willliam Gay signed with Arizona.

Yet there isn't much competition for starting jobs.

Ziggy Hood replaced Smith at left end and stayed there last season, although he will be pushed by Cameron Heyward. Larry Foote takes over at the buck linebacker spot for Farrior, yet he has another big talent behind him as was the case when Lawrence Timmons pushed Foote all the way to sign with Detroit in 2010. LeBeau raved about rookie Sean Spence, a third-round draft choice from Miami.

"I don't have any concerns about Larry playing the buck, but we're going to have to replace numbers there. Somebody is going to have to step up in there. We have some guys who are experienced and some who are not. But I do like our draft choice. He's done everything any first-year player could do in coaching sessions without pads. I think we're in the right direction there."

The most intense competition comes at left cornerback, where Keenan Lewis and two draft picks from 2011, Cortez Allen and Curtis Brown are competing to replace Gay, who replaced McFadden after the first game last season.

"I definitely feel good about Cortez and Curtis," LeBeau said.

What he did not feel good about last season -- aside from the stunning loss in Denver -- was the number of turnovers his team produced. It managed only 15, including just four fumble recoveries, their fewest since they could find records starting in '66.

"That's something we have to get better at,'' LeBeau said. "Just preach it and practice it. Turnovers are funny, one year you're up there, the next year you're not. But I see no reason why we were as low as we were last year. That's not good. We have to improve that number."

Remembering Max Starks

As he did once this time last year, Ben Roethlisberger wore Max Starks' No. 78 at practice. He said it was to honor him. Starks remains an unrestricted free agent as he rehabs from ACL surgery in January. It is possible the Steelers will re-sign him; they did that last year after the fourth game of the regular season.

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/lebeau-steelers-defense-will-be-fine-639449/

Crash
06-08-2012, 07:08 PM
"I sure hope we do a little bit better out there than we did the last time, and we will, I think we're playing a pretty good quarterback, though."

Atta boy Dick, get that "Well we played a great QB" excuse out there early.

hawaiiansteel
06-08-2012, 09:14 PM
Steelers’ Troy Polamalu: Broncos offense was simple

by SI.com
June 8, 2012

http://sitracking.files.wordpress.com/2012/06/136236201.jpg

Steelers’ Troy Polamalu said the Denver Broncos offense was simple. That offense beat the Steelers in the wild-card round of the playoffs last season. (Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Guess six months isn’t enough time to get over a playoff loss. At least that’s the thinking of Pittsburgh Steelers safety Troy Polamalu.

Polamalu said the playoff loss to the Denver Broncos is puzzling because their offense was not hard to figure out.

“There were so many things about him that were like playing a veteran and so many things like playing a rookie,” Polamalu told Yahoo! Sports when speaking about of Tebow. “When things break down, (Tebow) is a little like (Steelers quarterback) Ben (Roethlisberger).

Whether he played like a rookie or veteran, Tebow threw for 316 yards and two touchdowns against the league’s #1 ranked defense in the Broncos 29-23 overtime victory in the wild-card round last season. He also ran for 50 yards and a score.

When asked about the Broncos offense, Polamalu said “it was an incredibly simple offense that you just don’t think can work in this league, but it worked for them with the kind of talent they had.”

http://tracking.si.com/2012/06/08/steelers-troy-polamalu-broncos-offense-was-simple/