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Thread: Steelers defense wants to be ‘legendary’

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    Steelers defense wants to be ‘legendary’

    Steelers defense wants to be ‘legendary’

    By Alan Robinson
    Published: Monday, August 27, 2012



    Steelers linebacker Chris Carter plays for James Harrison against the Bills at Ralph Wilson Stadium Aug. 25, 2012

    There are alterations all around them, yet nothing has changed for the old-reliable Steelers’ defensive regulars. They don’t expect to be good, they expect to be the best. And they certainly anticipate being better than last season, when they were No. 1 statistically in the NFL.

    “We are striving to be legendary,” safety Ryan Clark said of the defense’s not-immodest expectations.

    They still have an age-old problem; with an average age of 30, they could be the NFL’s oldest defense. They might start the season in less than two weeks without injured outside linebacker James Harrison, the disruptive pass rusher whose edginess not just personifies the Steelers but energizes them.

    They also are without James Farrior, the longtime captain whose retirement has stripped them of some of their character, continuity and cohesiveness.

    Regardless, the Steelers still believe in coach Mike Tomlin’s oft-repeated mantra: The standard is the standard. And for the Steelers’ defense, that is being the NFL’s gold standard, no matter the season or the personnel.

    In separate interviews Monday, both Clark and Troy Polamalu mentioned how the Steelers have been frustrated at not being able to play up to the level of the 2008 defense, which was Steel Curtain-like in its dominance despite taking on one of the toughest schedules of any Super Bowl winner.

    To Polamalu and Clark, that is the standard.

    “I don’t remember that defense doing much wrong,” Clark said. “But last year’s defense, even though we were No. 1, it didn’t look like that and that’s what we are striving for.”

    “We could run the same defense 10 times and change positions and make it 10 different defenses to a quarterback,” Polamalu said.

    This defense’s development is being overlooked in part due to all the scrutiny of new coordinator Todd Haley’s offense. But defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is designing some new gimmicks too, his players say, even as outside linebacker Chris Carter, nose tackle Steve McLendon, cornerback Keenan Lewis and nickel back Cortez Allen all see their roles expand greatly.

    Clark likes how a defense that had a franchise-low 15 turnovers in 16 games last season has forced seven in three preseason games, three against Buffalo on Saturday.

    “Where we’ve gotten better is the Ziggy Hoods, the Steve McLendons and these guys picking up their play and putting more pressure on the quarterback and making plays,” Clark said. “I think the youth movement has helped us.”

    While this unmistakably LeBeau defense might not have as many options strategically due to so many new players possibly being on the field, Polamalu believes it could wind up being an upgrade over last season’s top-ranked unit.

    “The only thing that really limits us in how we prepare for a game is definitely not age, or slowness,” Polamalu said. “We’re limited only by what we as a defense can understand. … Guys like Cortez, Steve and Chris Carter don’t understand the defense on the level of the guys who played it before them. The more and more they’re able to develop, the more and more we’re able to expand our defense. And we can be as good as we’ve ever been as long as we can communicate well and play cohesively.”

    Carter said there is a healthy pressure on the newer players because, “I don’t want to cause a drop-off in a guy’s play because I’m not taking care of my job.”

    Just as Clark mentioned Hood and McLendon, Polamalu singled out Allen as being a potential difference maker.

    “The nickel position to me is one of the most important positions on this team. You can be anything from just a nickel [back] to Charles Woodson. You can take that defense to a whole another level,” Polamalu said. “Cortez is playing a major role. He’s able to match up with smaller guys, like a Wes Welker, all the way to a [265-pound Rob] Gronkowski.”

    Then there’s the intangible Hampton believes the Steelers will never lack.

    “I expect us to be better than we were last year,” Hampton said. “We always have a chip on our shoulders.”

    http://triblive.com/sports/2482300-8...#ixzz24rlvN4u9

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    At this point, they have trouble stopping the run. I'd like to see them focus on fixing that other than this legendary talk.
    Even if Bill Belichick was getting an atomic wedgie, his face would look exactly the same.

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    I'm with Troy, I think Cortez is the secret sauce that makes this defensive recipe work.

    Cortez in the nickle frees up Troy and Timmons to do a lot more. Plus if you stop screwing around with Timmons on the outside that will help too.

    Cortez is a big kid that can tackle too, so I think you also mix up what you do with him and with 3 big CBs, you can blitz the corners now more than you could in the past because we have a trio that should be able to play press with their size.

    At the end of the day, Cortez frees Timmons to go after the QB more. And it frees Troy to roam to make more plays. And the more you send Timmons up the middle at the QB, the more other guys will come free to get to the QB because Timmons is the one guy no one wants hitting their QB.

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    Quote Originally Posted by steelblood View Post
    At this point, they have trouble stopping the run. I'd like to see them focus on fixing that other than this legendary talk.
    I'm not into the legendary talk either. I am not worried about the rush D; it will be there. But anytime teams talk like this they always seem to fail, like Philly saying they were the Dream Team last year. Whatever. Stay humble and do your talking on the field. Legendary.....this isn't 2008, it's 2012. How many of these guys are what they were in 2012?

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    Quote Originally Posted by lloydroid View Post
    I'm not into the legendary talk either. I am not worried about the rush D; it will be there. But anytime teams talk like this they always seem to fail, like Philly saying they were the Dream Team last year. Whatever. Stay humble and do your talking on the field. Legendary.....this isn't 2008, it's 2012. How many of these guys are what they were in 2012?
    I suspect the writer overstated a bit for effect.

    All I think they got is the same old same old...the standard is the standard.

    And then he pushed them a little further to reflect that the standard is being legendary.

    And from Clark or Polamalu, they're probably being overly critical of themselves and saying they won't be satisfied unless this defense lives up to the legendary standard.

    We hear over and over that the standard is the standard.

    Behind closed doors, I bet Mike T reminds these guys that they standard is 6 Lombardis, being the greatest dynasty ever, being legendary in every way.

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    I remember on the final drive of AZ in the SB, they were saying, "If we stop them, this D will be considered legendary." They stopped them, but in no way is the 2008 D considered "legendary." It was a good D, no doubt, but they won't be mentioned in the same breath as the "1976 Steelers, 1985 Bears or 2000 Ravens." Fact is, if that D was legendary, they wouldn't have gave up the lead in that game after being up 20-7 heading into the 4th Q. That is not a legendary D. It was good, but not legendary.

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    Quote Originally Posted by lloydroid View Post
    I remember on the final drive of AZ in the SB, they were saying, "If we stop them, this D will be considered legendary." They stopped them, but in no way is the 2008 D considered "legendary." It was a good D, no doubt, but they won't be mentioned in the same breath as the "1976 Steelers, 1985 Bears or 2000 Ravens." Fact is, if that D was legendary, they wouldn't have gave up the lead in that game after being up 20-7 heading into the 4th Q. That is not a legendary D. It was good, but not legendary.
    They may not be mentioned by media folks in that same breath, but if you look at the numbers (and weigh the era they currently play in), that defense does stack up well among the "great defenses" of the past. You watched that defense; I watched that defense. You didn't think they stood out, even within the Steeler tradition?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Shoe View Post
    They may not be mentioned by media folks in that same breath, but if you look at the numbers (and weigh the era they currently play in), that defense does stack up well among the "great defenses" of the past. You watched that defense; I watched that defense. You didn't think they stood out, even within the Steeler tradition?
    They were good, for sure. They gave up very low PPG, in any era, really. But did that D seem dominant to you, like, scary to teams kind of dominant? The other teams mentioned all terrorized other teams. They were just off the charts good. Pgh, in 2008 did have the #1 pass D, #1 rush D and #1 overall D. That is pretty damn impressive, for sure. But I still don't put them up there with the very best Ds of all time. They don't pass the eye ball test and they did give up a lead of 20-7 heading into the 4th Q of the SB. Do you think the 1985 Bears would have given up a lead of 20-7 in the 4th Q. of the SB? I don't. Or the 2000 Ravens? Nope.

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    Wasn't 2008 the year we had the most ridiculous strength of schedule in the league in quite sometime? Maybe even since the merger?

    I think it was.

    That defense was legendary in my mind.

  10. #10
    Quote Originally Posted by flippy View Post
    I'm with Troy, I think Cortez is the secret sauce that makes this defensive recipe work.

    Cortez in the nickle frees up Troy and Timmons to do a lot more. Plus if you stop screwing around with Timmons on the outside that will help too.

    Cortez is a big kid that can tackle too, so I think you also mix up what you do with him and with 3 big CBs, you can blitz the corners now more than you could in the past because we have a trio that should be able to play press with their size.

    At the end of the day, Cortez frees Timmons to go after the QB more. And it frees Troy to roam to make more plays. And the more you send Timmons up the middle at the QB, the more other guys will come free to get to the QB because Timmons is the one guy no one wants hitting their QB.
    I don't wanna know anything about Cortez's secret sauce.

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