I will provide stats that are contrary to nearly everything you just said
Originally Posted by Chadman
Not really. this is a fallacy that so called "knowledgeable" Steeler fans throw around. LBer play determines the quality of our D. Aaron Smith was our best DE because he was PRODUCTIVE not because he made LBers look good. Proof? In his prime Smith had several seasons with 60 plus total tackles (70 career high). None of his peers have done 60 tackles once. Keisel went to the probowl having 33 total tackles. Combine Keisels two highest sack totals and you get a number ( 8 ) that Smith did TWICE in single seasons.
the success of the Steelers 3-4 Defense is, primarily, dependant on the play of the DL. These guys set the tone, fill gaps & create space for the LB's to make plays. That in itself says that the stat lines for the DL for the Steelers are never going to give a great gauge as to how they are really playing.
Interestingly our "best" DE did not line up next to our most productive LBers (which "should" be the case if the linemen make the LBers). Porter and then Harrison lined up on the OPPOSITE side than Smith in the base. If we credit the line for LBers success, Kimo (next to Porter) was a heck of a better player than Smith (who can take pride in the greatness of Clark Haggins).
Our best run defense in two decades was during a season when our best DE of the era missed most of the season. We lose our best DE of the era and Casey is clearly past his prime what happened? When our LBers talented are healthy and playing well, our defense is fine regardless of the dlinemen in front.
Team Stats however might show how effective the Steelers 3-4 DL is. After all, as a unit, we can see their success representeted by the success of those around them.
Our run defense was fine when Hoke played in place of Casey. Our win percent is BETTER when he started than with Casey. When Mclendon played for an injured Casey last season we were fine, he is UNDEFEATED (3-0) as a starter.
Another thing to consider is this- if the DL is the tone-setter of the 3-4, the NT is the central cog to the DL success. Without good play from the NT, without dominant play from the NT, the DL is never going to be as effective as they could/should be. Don't think there is much doubt right now that Hampton isn't the same player he was 5 years ago. Neither Hood nor Keisel are dominant, in Chadman's opinion, this season. Is that reflected in Hampton's regression?
Again "team stats" are misleading, and to credit the line with team stats is wrong. If so the best Dline we have ever had was Keisel, aging Casey and Hood, the starting 3 for the majority of the 2010 season when our run defense was at its best. We know that aint true.
Comparing Heyward's value to Hood's is irrelevant. The Steelers need all the DE's to be effective, in whatever way they are asked to play. Hood is a little tank, while Heyward is an athletic beast. They are going to play differently. They will not garner the same results, individually. How different are the team stats with Hood in as compared to when Heyward is in? That is more the key indicator.
Fact is that we had Farrior and Harrison healthy, Timmons had his ONE breakout season, and Woodley had a typical year. The state of the LBers was GREAT, despite issues on the dline. for most of that season Troy was healthy too contibuting to the run defense as well.
The fact that our Dline does not need great play is shown in that WE NEVER DRAFTED DEs HIGH UNDER BC. Now that we do it does not make our defense any better. Even Casey who was drafted high gets replaced by no-names with little effect.
Interestingly this years defensing success is largely related to our improved secondary. Neither the line nor the banged up LBs are getting great pressure (sufficient perhaps not great), and we have the number one pass defense.