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Thread: LeBeau's next task: Build a Steelers defense to stop the option

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    Hall of Famer SteelCrazy's Avatar
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    LeBeau's next task: Build a Steelers defense to stop the option

    The godfather of the zone blitz stands at midfield, giving his Pittsburgh Steelers defense a one-word, pre-snap call whenever full-team training camp drills commence.

    Then, Dick LeBeau, 75 years young with a Hall-of-Fame reservoir of expertise siphoned across five decades as a ball-hawking cornerback and coach, walks to the sideline to observe how his signal is dispersed.

    He is using camp to construct a speed bump in the regular season against the rising wave of turbo-charged, no-huddle, read-option offenses.

    "You're going to see these up-tempo offenses more and more across the league this season," LeBeau told USA TODAY Sports. "So very early during our practice sessions, the offense will go a lot of no-huddle attack so our guys get comfortable with not only their up-tempo conditioning, but they get comfortable with the mechanics of getting the call relayed when you can't get huddled up.

    "You need to practice that because the up-tempo is another tool offenses have now to pressure defenses."

    The Steelers open Sept. 8 against the Tennessee Titans. And guess what? Tennessee's Jake Locker, who was a dual-threat quarterback at the University of Washington, might be asked to showcase those talents in his second season as a full-time NFL starter. Pittsburgh will likely be the first team to fully witness Locker's unleashed mobility in tandem with the talents of fleet Titans tailback Chris Johnson on options runs.

    LeBeau will be ready as zone-blitz force meets zone-read finesse.

    "Coach LeBeau is here refining his game for what the fast-break style of 2013 football is," Steelers free safety Ryan Clark says. "There's nothing coach LeBeau hasn't seen.

    "He's just trying to find ways to shorten our terminology, get us our calls quickly so we can just play football. ... In the past, we've been kind of scrambling with making calls. He's been fine-tuning that to where we control how his calls are disseminated through just one word."

    Veteran linebacker Larry Foote is LeBeau's mouthpiece.

    "Instead of saying the entire defense, coach will give us a key word," Foote, heading into his 12th NFL season, says. "Coach will say, 'Bus' or 'Bussie' for Jerome Bettis. As soon as guys hear 'Bus,' they know their assignments. We work on those shorter calls in our meetings and on the playing field.

    "The key thing is having the young guys pick it up quickly."

    LeBeau, who intercepted 62 passes (seventh-most in NFL history) from 1959 to 1972 with the Detroit Lions, has orchestrated the league's No. 1 defense in four of the past six seasons including the last two.

    "I don't know that anybody totally knows the secret because they haven't stopped it," LeBeau says of the read option.

    But the Steelers did contain Robert Griffin III to 8 yards rushing, 177 yards passing with a 47.1% completion rate in their 27-12 win over the Washington Redskins last October.

    "When you've got those great read-option quarterbacks, you can't make a mistake. It puts more pressure on your defense to be right," LeBeau says. "You can't afford to surrender the big play. Make them go the hard way."

    Coach Mike Tomlin says Pittsburgh's defense will be ready to say, "not so fast," if Locker does indeed follow in the read-option footsteps of RG3 and Colin Kaepernick.

    "In today's NFL, there are a myriad of things you have to be prepared for whether no-huddle or read option," Tomlin said. "We have to make sure we use this time to prepare to stop them. ... Even if it is not in our personality offensively, we have to make sure our defense receives the proper looks to defend people."

    On the first day of camp, Tomlin tweaked third-year cornerback Cortez Allen after he was burned by wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders on a 35-yard strike from Ben Roethlisberger.

    "Cortez, they aren't going to be throwing at Ike (Taylor, the Steelers' No. 1 corner)," shouted Tomlin. He took the opportunity to hammer home that point as Allen replaces Keenan Lewis, who signed with the New Orleans Saints in free agency.

    "You know who they'll be throwing at come September," Tomlin said. "Cortez needs to understand that. I'm sure he does.

    "We're here building a world championship-caliber team. We've got a lot of work to do."

    Fortunately for Tomlin, his tireless coordinator is already on the case.

    http://www.usatoday.com/story/sports...omlin/2601107/

  2. #2
    Legend hawaiiansteel's Avatar
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    Dick LeBeau preparing Steelers defense for up-tempo offenses

    By Neal Coolong on Jul 30 2013



    The new passing attacks of the NFL will feature more up-tempo packages. Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is preparing his unit from the ground up; starting with conditioning.

    How do you stop a read-option offense? Steelers coach Mike Tomlin suggests hitting the quarterback often. What about a high-tempo offense? Forcing incomplete passes will slow that down.

    Dick LeBeau likely spent the offseason in the lab coming up with ways to do this consistently, largely in part to the amount of offenses the Steelers - and the rest of the NFL - will face that uses elements of both of these in their game plans.

    The USA Today has a feature in regards to what LeBeau is doing in training camp to prepare the Steelers' defense for teams like Baltimore and New England that already run up-tempo offenses. Green Bay is on the schedule this year, and Aaron Rodgers' pinpoint accuracy and ability to throw on the move make the Packers' offense one of the best in the league.

    It's something LeBeau's defense is preparing for, and some might suggest it hasn't been prepared for enough in the past. The Steelers struggled early in the 2012 season against offenses that used quicker huddles and shorter passes to pepper the Steelers into submission - something they were able to counter more effectively in the past due at least partially to lesser capable quarterbacks and receivers.

    The season-opener in 2010, Atlanta's Matt Ryan drove his team up and down the field for four quarters, but when they got close to the red zone, the Steelers defense made a play. The Falcons failed to score a touchdown, and Ryan threw an interception late in the game after throwing one too many out-routes to wide receiver Roddy White - who had 13 catches on an eye-popping 23 targets in the game. Troy Polamalu intercepted the late-game pass, and the Steelers eventually got the win in overtime.

    Fast-forward to today, there are many talented quarterbacks like Ryan, and there are many talented receivers like White. The Steelers' Week 1 opponents, the Tennessee Titans, have an athletic and young quarterback, Jake Locker, who can divvy out passes between Kenny Britt, Kendall Wright or Nate Washington, and add in rookie Justin Hunter, they could be stacked at that position.

    While Locker can't be confused with Ryan, simple one-look throws while keeping a defense in a no-huddle-no-substitution look seems like a great way to empower a young quarterback to play above his past success.

    Rodgers and Tom Brady don't even need that to decimate an opposing defense.

    According to LeBeau, conditioning plays a big role in his preparation.

    ""You're going to see these up-tempo offenses more and more across the league this season," LeBeau told USA TODAY Sports. "So very early during our practice sessions, the offense will go a lot of no-huddle attack so our guys get comfortable with not only their up-tempo conditioning, but they get comfortable with the mechanics of getting the call relayed when you can't get huddled up."

    Figuring out how to hit the quarterback when he's out of the pocket and bat away passes to slow offenses down seems like the right path. Getting the horses extra laps to have the wind to keep doing it may be a key to the 2013 season.

    http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com...tempo-offenses

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    Is that really Lebeau's next task? I think he's already done a good job with that. I think his task is to figure out how to keep the defense in the top 5 after losing some serious top talentl

    2012: We beat the Redskins 27-12. They are a good example of the run-option. Redskins had a total of 169 yards passing and 86 yards running.

    2011: Steelers flip the script on the Cheaters and win 25-17. They're a pretty good example of up-tempo.

  4. #4
    Hall of Famer ikestops85's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Eich View Post
    Is that really Lebeau's next task? I think he's already done a good job with that. I think his task is to figure out how to keep the defense in the top 5 after losing some serious top talentl

    2012: We beat the Redskins 27-12. They are a good example of the run-option. Redskins had a total of 169 yards passing and 86 yards running.

    2011: Steelers flip the script on the Cheaters and win 25-17. They're a pretty good example of up-tempo.
    You must not have gotten the memo that LeBeau is way past his prime and is the reason that the Steelers are such an un-successful team. Thank God for Ben recognizing this and not try to score because the defense would just give that score right back.

    Just something I picked up from the poster formerly known as Crash.
    <a href=http://seahawknationblog.com/files/2011/02/roger-goodell.jpg target=_blank>http://seahawknationblog.com/files/2...er-goodell.jpg</a>

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    Quote Originally Posted by ikestops85 View Post
    You must not have gotten the memo that LeBeau is way past his prime and is the reason that the Steelers are such an un-successful team. Thank God for Ben recognizing this and not try to score because the defense would just give that score right back.

    Just something I picked up from the poster formerly known as Crash.
    Oh - I got the memos.... 400 MILLION times. I ran out of trash bags and toasted multiple commercial-grade shredders dealing with those memos ! We're the only team in the history of the league that consistenly allows a score on opening drives of the half and after the offense scores (and at the same time, consistently fields a top 5 defense).

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eich View Post
    Is that really Lebeau's next task? I think he's already done a good job with that. I think his task is to figure out how to keep the defense in the top 5 after losing some serious top talentl

    2012: We beat the Redskins 27-12. They are a good example of the run-option. Redskins had a total of 169 yards passing and 86 yards running.

    2011: Steelers flip the script on the Cheaters and win 25-17. They're a pretty good example of up-tempo.
    redskin's game isn't a good example. Guys were running wide open all day they just failed to catch the ball. The D broke up 3 or 4 passes but I remember 6 or 7 drops...

    http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/201210...ghts&tab=recap

    Redskin game is probably the reason DL wants to improve the D. On most days a team won't drop wide open TD passes like the one Hankerson dropped.

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    Quote Originally Posted by feltdizz View Post
    redskin's game isn't a good example. Guys were running wide open all day they just failed to catch the ball. The D broke up 3 or 4 passes but I remember 6 or 7 drops...

    http://www.nfl.com/gamecenter/201210...ghts&tab=recap

    Redskin game is probably the reason DL wants to improve the D. On most days a team won't drop wide open TD passes like the one Hankerson dropped.
    Pass coverage has been a general weakness of our D for years with a philosophy of "tackle the catch" more than "prevent the catch".

    I thought the Redskins game was a great example of defending the run-option. It simply was not effective against us.

    The Steelers swarmed Washington's precocious star on Sunday, keeping Griffin in check during a dominant 27-12 victory. Griffin completed just 16 of 34 passes for 177 yards and a score while managing 10 yards rushing.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Eich View Post
    Pass coverage has been a general weakness of our D for years with a philosophy of "tackle the catch" more than "prevent the catch".

    I thought the Redskins game was a great example of defending the run-option. It simply was not effective against us.
    we definitely did a good job vs the run portion but it still looks like the pass option it gives us fits.

  9. #9
    Pro Bowler skyhawk's Avatar
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    He has pretty much crossed everything off of his task list.

    His NEW task is to mold a defense that can once again create turnovers, turnovers, turnovers. It's the turnovers, stupid.

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