D. LeBeau article (ESPN)
PITTSBURGH -- The blame game -- with a twist -- continued to play out at Steelers headquarters with Dick LeBeau pointing a finger at himself for the problems Pittsburgh has had defensively. The Steelers have given up rushing yards and big plays at an alarming rate this season, and they yielded 55 points and 610 yards of total offense in a loss at New England last Sunday. “We’ve got to make sure that we get back to fundamentals,” LeBeau said Thursday. “We’ve gotten away from those and that’s on me. We’re leaving too many windows and we’re getting hit in some of those windows. We’re going to close them up. We’ve gone back to page one and you’re going to see an improved defense.” The Steelers’ defense has been unrecognizable compared to the ones usually led by LeBeau. Age has caught up with a unit that leads the NFL scoring defense, rushing defense and sacks since 2004 when LeBeau returned for a second stint as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator. And the Steelers have not gotten the kind of contributions from younger players such as Jarvis Jones and Cortez Allen that they had hoped for at the start of the season. But LeBeau said the Steelers’ problems stem from players not staying in their gaps and carrying out their assignments. When asked if that is a result of players trying to do too much, LeBeau said, “If I knew exactly why we’ve been getting out of position we wouldn’t be getting out of position. But we’ve got to stop getting out of position and get where we’re supposed to be and see what we’re supposed to see. Just play good, solid fundamental defense, and we’ll play well.” That the Steelers have not done that consistently has led to criticism of the 76-year-old LeBeau -- and raised questions about whether opposing teams have figured out one of the most innovative defensive minds in NFL history. “The play calling hasn’t changed. The playcaller hasn't changed. It's us,” free safety Ryan Clark said. “He's the same guy. We aren’t executing the way we're supposed to on game days and when you don't do that you become susceptible to big plays.” Steelers players have fiercely defended LeBeau this week. Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said he has not lost faith in LeBeau. "I'd rather not be in the situation where that type of question comes up," LeBeau said. "We're all in this together. We play bad and we all have a bad game. I certainly take my full ownership to that. We’re not going to duck our head, we're not going to tuck our tail. This is a league of competitors, we’re going out to compete, that’s what we’re going to do."