View Full Version : The Whiz vs. Father of the Zone Blitz

01-25-2009, 05:22 PM
The Whiz vs. Father of the Zone Blitz

PITTSBURGH - Much has been made - and will continue to be made over the next week - about how well Arizona Cardinals head coach Ken Whisenhunt knows Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger and the rest of Pittsburgh's offensive personnel.

But the Steelers will have an ace in the hole when they play Arizona next Sunday at Tampa's Raymond James Stadium in Super Bowl XLIII.

Perhaps nobody knows Whisenhunt and his offensive tendencies as well as Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

When Bill Cowher was Pittsburgh's head coach, the Steelers would end every Wednesday practice by having their offense compete against the defense in five third-down situations. The winner had bragging rights for the week. It's a tradition Mike Tomlin has continued.

From 2004 through 2006, that end-of-practice ritual pitted LeBeau against Whisenhunt, then the Steelers' offensive coordinator.

"Coach Cowher kept track of that, so whoever Bill was mad at that day, the other guy won," said LeBeau. "We still do it every week. It's a good thing. It's a competitive one-on-one. That takes care of all the bickering from the assistants. It is a lot fun."

But does it give LeBeau insight into Whisenhunt's offense?

"I think it's a wash because anything that I would know about Coach Whisenhunt, he would know about me," LeBeau said. "We will be trying like heck to get one-up on each other, just like out on the golf course. It's going to come down to how our players play. I know that he will have some good stuff for us."

As will LeBeau for Whisenhunt.

The father of the zone blitz defense, LeBeau and his schemes have tortured opponents over the years, and this season is no different. The Steelers allowed the fewest points, total yards and passing yards in the NFL, while ranking second in rushing yardage allowed and sacks.

Working against LeBeau and his defense helped Whisenhunt.

"I enjoyed the match-ups," Whisenhunt admitted. "I always felt that they made us better as far as being able to understand how to pick things up. I am very grateful for that opportunity. At times, it was frustrating in practice, especially when Coach (Bill) Cowher would yell at us when we weren't doing anything good against them. I really think that it did prepare us."

Perhaps those practice battles, the ones the coaches had on the golf course - both are scratch players - and a game in 2007 in Arizona won by Whisenhunt's Cardinals, 21-14, will help ease the sting for each man knowing that one of them is going to be severely disappointed in a week.

"It is different because they are my friends," said LeBeau of Whisenhunt and Arizona assistant coach Russ Grimm.

"You want your friends to be successful, and this is one game that I would prefer that they would not be. I have really ambivalent feelings because I really think a lot of both of those men. Ken and I are close friends. We played golf together all the time. We were at the same skill level, so we could never be on the same side because nobody would ever let us play together."

Why should the Super Bowl be any different?

Copyright Observer Publishing Co.

01-26-2009, 06:08 AM
Well in 6 days we will all find out who might have the edge. I can't imagine how much this theory will get abused on media day.

01-26-2009, 08:00 AM
I was watching the AFCCG last night and realized that there was many times when Pittsburgh had 7 in the box and would only rush 4 (more times than not).

Then I also noticed that the ratbirds attempted to rush 5 more often that I remembered and the O-line and RBs did a great job of protecting Ben.

And finally, I noticed two things. One if you rush too many to get Ben, Ben is reading the hot read (most likely Holmes) and it's off to the races. Two, if your Warner you have to determine where the blitz is coming from and on many of the odd man rushes it was difficult to tell where that was coming from until the snap of the ball.

Yeah, good luck with that game planning Whiz.

01-26-2009, 09:19 AM
Two, if your Warner you have to determine where the blitz is coming from and on many of the odd man rushes it was difficult to tell where that was coming from until the snap of the ball.

But Warner releases the ball so fast that we will never be able to get to him :chuckle: I guarantee that LeBeau will have something special just for Whiz come Sunday.