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Hawaii 5-0
05-25-2012, 08:50 PM
Pittsburgh Steelers: Dick LeBeau Will Have the Best Defense in the NFL...Again

By Cian Fahey (Featured Columnist) on May 21, 2012

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/images/photos/001/710/091/127886616_crop_650x440.jpg?1337639065

Recently, Jeff Fisher challenged his St. Louis Rams team to lead the league in sacks this year. No disrespect to Robert Quinn, Chris Long, Kendall Langford and Michael Brockers, but they're unlikely to come anywhere near that goal, especially with the Pittsburgh Steelers' defense taking on a devilish form this off-season.

The Steelers should be the team penetrating opposing passer's pockets most often next year as they have made significant changes this offseason.

AFC North Lead Blogger Andrea Hangst recently wrote that the Baltimore Ravens would have the best defense in the AFC North. While I have a huge amount of respect for my friend's opinion, I strongly disagree and would like to outline my own opinion.

I believe the Steelers' defense will once again be the dominating group it was in 2008, but it will do so in a different style. That year, the Steelers dominated the running game and used that domination to prevent teams from passing against them.

Coaches were terrified to call five or even seven step drops against the Steelers because James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley were so effective coming off the edges. As a result, very few deep passes were completed throughout the whole year against them.

If you have been following my writing this offseason, then you will already know that I believe the Steelers are entering this season with a better secondary than they have had for a long time.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/article/media_slots/photos/000/435/574/109698981_crop_340x234.jpg?1337639106

Keenan Lewis, Cortez Allen and, to a lesser extent, Curtis Brown add a new dimension to the Steelers defense with their physical abilities. Unlike Deshea Townsend, William Gay and Bryant McFadden, the ghosts of the Steelers recent past at the position, the Steelers' current crop of cornerbacks excel in press man coverage.

Townsend, McFadden and Gay preferred to sit back in zones and rely on their agility to react to the ball and beat receivers to it. While they could not match up physically with their opponents, they could use their intelligence and quickness to get to the ball.

The Steelers' current corners can still do that with the added ability to shut down receivers one-on-one.

Keenan Lewis will move outside as a starter this year while Cortez Allen will become the nickel starter. Allen, in particular, is a fascinating addition. Last year, he shut down Rob Gronkowski when the Steelers beat the Patriots in the regular season.

With this new look secondary, the Steelers can do a multitude of new things.

Playing press coverage will disrupt the timing of opposing teams' offenses and force their quarterbacks to hold onto the football longer than intended.

That is presuming that the Steelers play press coverage on the play rather than look to trap the offense with a feigned coverage. Because the team's cornerbacks have the ability to play both man and zone coverage, the Steelers can mix more complex coverage schemes without exposing anyone, as they did in the past with William Gay and Ryan Clark.

More often than not, Clark was great last year when playing zone coverage. With better cornerback play, he will be able to carry out his own job without hesitation. While Clark will remain deep in zone, Troy Polamalu will be able to move closer to the line of scrimmage with more regularity this year than last.

Polamalu in the box is Polamalu at his best. He may not get as many interceptions if he moves closer to the line, but his overall impact on the opposing offense multiplies. Quarterbacks fear Polamalu, and when he is closer to the line, it is more difficult to see what he is going to do. Quarterbacks will generally check where he is after the snap when he is closer to the line.

The result of that? More hesitation. Meaning more time for the Steelers' pass rush.

It is not only the coverage that will help the Steelers' defense this year.

There is no doubt that losing Casey Hampton for however long will significantly hurt their run defense, but Steve McLendon showed last year that he can man the position for a stint. McLendon is certainly not Casey Hampton, but he is a two-way nose tackle opposed to a run stuffing specialist.

With McLendon on the field, the Steelers can expect a better push on the interior of the line.

Last year's first round draft pick, Cameron Heyward, should also take a step forward entering his second season. Heyward is a better pass rushing defensive end than both Evander Hood and Brett Keisel. He should see a lot of time in sub packages and the defensive line rotation.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/article/media_slots/photos/000/435/575/136322829_crop_340x234.jpg?1337639167

Sub packages and third downs will be pivotal this year for the Steelers' defense.

Last year, with James Farrior in the lineup, the Steelers were handicapped on third down. By the end of the year, Farrior was splitting time with Larry Foote because Farrior couldn't cope in coverage. When Farrior was on the field on third downs, he more often than not blitzing the quarterback.

Farrior is not a good blitzer to begin with. Add to that, his blitzes became predictable for opposing offenses to the point that they could pick him up before the snap and easily handle him. Larry Foote's presence on the field will improve the defense as a whole and allow the Steelers to blitz the explosive Lawrence Timmons more often.

Both Timmons and Foote are versatile enough to blitz or drop in coverage so the unit as a whole will be less predictable.

However, Foote himself may not be on the field on third downs this year.

Depending on how he copes in the preseason, third round pick Sean Spence could see significant time on the field for the Steelers in sub packages. Spence is a linebacker who dropped to the third round in the draft because of his size. His speed, however, could make him a very versatile option for the Steelers on third downs.

Much like Polamalu and Timmons, Spence would give the Steelers a physical specimen to maraud around the field or to send after the quarterback. Spence's best fit appears to be as a 4-3 OLB, but with the Steelers, he will be able to focus on this specific role in the nickel defense.

While Casey Hampton isn't likely to be available for Week 1 this year, James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley will be.

Last year, both starting outside linebackers missed games at different times. James Harrison broke his orbital bone against the Houston Texans and missed four games. He was also suspended for Week 15. He finished the season with nine sacks in 11 games.

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/article/media_slots/photos/000/435/578/130151478_crop_340x234.jpg?1337639237

Woodley was a much greater loss.

After Harrison missed a chunk of the first half of the season, Woodley went out with a hamstring injury in Week 8 and never returned to full fitness, despite appearing in the playoffs.

Prior to going out, Woodley was on one of his hot streaks. When they lost Harrison, Woodley notched 7.5 sacks in the next four games and finished the season with nine in 10 appearances.

Those nine came in eight games when Woodley was actually healthy.

Considering he did that with Jason Worilds and Lawrence Timmons starting across from him, the possibilities are endless when he plays with Harrison while they are both healthy. The exposure that Worilds and Chris Carter got last year can only have helped them.

That can come in handy if the Steelers want to bring in more pass rushers in sub packages like the New York Giants did last year.

The versatility of the Steelers defense entering this season is phenomenal. With a mad scientist like Dick LeBeau running the group, the prospects of what the Steelers will do this year makes me quiver slightly.

And I'm not even in the firing line.

Like the Steelers showed against the New England Patriots last year, they are not stubborn to the extent that they will always stick to their rigid 3-4 defense. LeBeau will use every possible player at his disposal to help the team.

He may have been forced to do so during that game last year, but the results can only encourage him to do it more moving forward.

Last year, NBC analyst Warren Sapp said this defense was "old, slow and over." It finished first in total defense and scoring.

This year, it's fast, young and experienced, or, in other words, the best defense in the NFL. No, not the AFC North...the N.F.L.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/1190877-pittsburgh-steelers-dick-lebeau-will-have-the-best-defense-in-the-nflagain

Steeldude
05-26-2012, 12:52 AM
Lebeau isn't going to play a press coverage. He will have the DBs sit back and hope the offense makes a mistake. Lebeau has become more and more passive with his defensive plans over the years. It will be another year of the same bland blitzes, if they blitz much at all.

Losing Hampton didn't hurt the Steelers' run defense. Hampton will most likely be even worse than he has been for the last 3 years. Losing Hoke is what hurt. Fat NTs, like Hampton over the last few years, are a dime-a-dozen. They should have released Hampton.

tanda10506
05-26-2012, 01:15 AM
Lebeau isn't going to play a press coverage. He will have the DBs sit back and hope the offense makes a mistake. Lebeau has become more and more passive with his defensive plans over the years. It will be another year of the same bland blitzes, if they blitz much at all.

LeBeau has shown plenty of times that he can change it up to win, look at this year in New England. I agree there were times where he should have and didn't, but overall he's done well. When we play zone we don't really wait for mistakes, we cause mistakes. Our lack of pass rush last year was mainly due to missing Woodley, Harrison, and Keisel for multiple games, not because of bad blitzes, and that lack of pass rush is why no mistakes were forced. LeBeau has been running the defense and getting at QB's for a long time, due to injury last year it didn't work out, but every other year it has worked out well, and it will this year too.

As for the main article, I'm not sure if we will be #1 but we will be damn good. Baltimore lost Johnson and Redding to FA and Suggs to injury plus Ray Lewis is 37, they will be taking a step back this year. I actually think because of the FA losses and Suggs' injury that the Bengals will have a better defense then the Ravens this year also. Losing Mario Williams may set the Texans back who had a great defense last year. I think the 49er's though will likely have the #1 offense, with us at #2 or #3. Regardless of the rankings though our defense will be better. We were #1 this year but only a few times did we look like a #1 defense, most of the time we looked like a #10 even if the stats said otherwise. Although I think the Ravens will be stepping back, I'm still not certain if we will be even a top 3 defense. I think we will be a top 5 for sure but with our schedule and the new players adapting I just don't see #1, but that's okay because instead of the offense being #21 this year it will be #5!:tt03::tt03:

steeltheone
05-26-2012, 01:44 AM
Lebeau isn't going to play a press coverage. He will have the DBs sit back and hope the offense makes a mistake. Lebeau has become more and more passive with his defensive plans over the years. It will be another year of the same bland blitzes, if they blitz much at all.

Losing Hampton didn't hurt the Steelers' run defense. Hampton will most likely be even worse than he has been for the last 3 years. Losing Hoke is what hurt. Fat NTs, like Hampton over the last few years, are a dime-a-dozen. They should have released Hampton.

I agree...I do worry about Clark, his pass coverage skills are below average now.

FrancoLambert
05-26-2012, 04:25 PM
I also believe Casey's on the big decline, saw him get blown off the ball too many times last year.
We need to go with youth there and live with their bigger upside and accept their growing pains.
I hope these high expectations for our young corners are proven true. If so, our D, statistically #1, will play more like a #1 defense in a big shutdown spot.

lipps83
05-26-2012, 11:46 PM
LeBeau has shown plenty of times that he can change it up to win, look at this year in New England.

I love Dick (pun intended?) as much as anybody but it took him 8 years to figure out how to stop Tom Brady. I wouldn't count that as a bonus.

steeltheone
05-27-2012, 12:41 AM
We beat the Patriots in the regular season before....Playoffs were ( are the problem)

LVSteelersfan
05-27-2012, 01:27 AM
Can't wait for the season to start. As with any year, it could be disappointing, but I feel this team will be a team to be reckoned with. It is a tough schedule though, so only time will tell if the new offense gels soon enough so they don't get off to a slow start. I hope they eat Peyton Manning alive in game 1.

Kingmagyar
05-27-2012, 12:10 PM
I really think last year's ranking was off because of the easy schedule against weak offensive teams and the amount of truly poor QBs that we faced. There will be no such luck this year facing the likes of:

Tavaras Jackson 159 yards
Curtis Painter 60 yards
Blaine Gabbert 109 yards
Tyler Palko 167 yards
Kellen Clemons 91 yards
Colt McCoy 209 yards
Seneca Wallace 177 yards

The game against Brady was brilliant however and I believe with better CB play then William Gay could give this team could be one of the better defenses as always, but I don't brag about that number one status too much against the above competition and I would never assume we are really that good either. Seinfeld's Cosmo Kramer was the best in his karate class only to find out later he was in a class of children.

Bayz101
05-27-2012, 12:56 PM
LeBeau has always benefited from talented defensive athletes, and our talented defensive athletes benefit from having LeBeau as their coach.

Ricco Suavez
05-28-2012, 11:51 AM
With all the limelight on the "new" offense and a draft dominated by offensive picks, I feel the defense is not getting any scrutiny this off season. First, this unit is laced with older veterans on the wrong side of 30, (what I would not give to be in that age range though) Troy, JH, Clark, Foote, Kiesel, Hampton are all in key positions. We saw what injuries can and did do to us late last year and the fact is the older a player is even in great shape is more likely to sustain injuries. Also Vets are vets for a reason and that is longevity and experience and that means more games played which again take a toll on an athlete as he ages. Do not get me wrong the players afore mentioned still have gas in their tanks but I believe the key to the defense is how our younger players step it up this season including a rookie or two. Second I would not care if we take a step back on defense this year in statistical departments if we can just create more turnovers. Another year in last place in turnovers will just not get it. Turnovers are game changing plays and we made fewer than anyone last year. Hopefully the offense turns the ball over less and we can pick up some Ints. and fumbles this year.

tony hipchest
05-28-2012, 03:28 PM
if i have to place money on dick lebeau or anybody else, my money is on dick lebeau.

i like our mixture of youth and veteran leadership. our one major flaw is that we have troy polamalu who i believe is the most irreplaceable defender in the nfl.

i'll take that "problem" any day of the week.

Ricco Suavez
05-28-2012, 03:48 PM
Troy is a player who, when, healthy is as dominant a player on defense in the likes of L Taylor, R Lott, and Joe Greene. In the last forty years of NFL viewing I have never seen players on defense like the ones I mentioned, I have seen groups that collectively played to a high standard, such as the 85 Bears but as individuals Troy ranks up there with the best ever.

tony hipchest
05-28-2012, 08:13 PM
Troy is a player who, when, healthy is as dominant a player on defense in the likes of L Taylor, R Lott, and Joe Greene. In the last forty years of NFL viewing I have never seen players on defense like the ones I mentioned, I have seen groups that collectively played to a high standard, such as the 85 Bears but as individuals Troy ranks up there with the best ever.i couldnt agree more. i have often said that troy is the most dominant defender that teams have to scheme an entire offense around since reggie white and LT. going back 40 years lott and greene are certainly right there on top. if i could take off my hater cap i would probably include d. sanders as well.

troy is right there in that all time dominant group.

dick lebeaus great defense has been phenominal with a healthy troy to work with and i expect much of the same in '12. if sean spence were entering his 3rd year in the system, i think we could be deadly.

Rick5895
05-29-2012, 04:30 AM
I love Dick (pun intended?) as much as anybody but it took him 8 years to figure out how to stop Tom Brady. I wouldn't count that as a bonus.

Up until last season we didn't have the CB's to play the press man that can beat Brady. We saw a difference in that game because we have young physical corners who can play press coverage.

Hawaii 5-0
05-29-2012, 02:16 PM
Dick LeBeau Has Both A Big Nickel & Dime To Spare In 2012

Tuesday, May 29th, 2012 by Dave Bryan

With more and more offenses starting to use the hybrid tight ends like the New England Patriots use Rob Gronkowski and Aaron Hernandez, defenses will be eaten alive if they do not match up with hybrid type defenses. The buzz words you will hear more and more this year, as far as defenses go, is “Big Nickel”.

Pat Kirwan of SiriusXM NFL Radio recently wrote about the “Big Nickel” and noted the teams he thought had the personnel to use it. One of those teams he listed was the Pittsburgh Steelers and it should come as no surprise as the Steelers used it last year in their win over the Patriots. We saw glimpses of it since that game and we will likely see even more of it in this upcoming season.

To recap, the “Big Nickel” utilizes three safeties, one of which usually plays down in the box and matches up against a flexed out tight end or stays in tighter if the formation is condensed to help play the run. Kirwan asked several defensive coaches about the three safety defense and the response he got was, “You gotta have the right kind of hybrid safety to do it right." The “Big Nickel” safety has to be able to play as a linebacker when the offense condenses the set, and of course, he has to match up on a flexed tight end when they spread out the formation.

The right kind of hybrid safety the Steelers used last season in the “Big Nickel” was of course Troy Polamalu. He played that role when the Steelers brought Ryan Mundy into the game as an extra safety when an extra cornerback was also brought into the game. This of course meant the nose tackle came off the field as well as a linebacker.

What is interesting about the game against the Patriots last season is that the Steelers defense was incredibly stretched thin in that game at linebacker. James Farrior and James Harrison did not play due to injuries and Jason Worilds was inactive for that game as well with an injury. Both Larry Foote and Stevenson Sylvester started inside and Lawrence Timmons continued to have to play outside in place of Harrison. If that was not enough, the Steelers also lost LaMarr Woodley in that game when he suffered his hamstring injury. At one point later in the game the “Big Nickel” defense featured Timmons, Foote and rookie Chris Carter at linebacker. Not the ideal personnel for the package, but it worked nonetheless.

Not only did the defense use the “Big Nickel” in that game, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau also used the “Dime” as well with rookie Cortez Allen serving as a fourth cornerback on the field alongside Ike Taylor, William Gay and Keenan Lewis. While Patriots quarterback Tom Brady still finished the game with a 101.8 quarterback rating (a stat that gets more useless by the year), he was also held to under 200 yards passing and the Patriots offense gained just 241 yards in total. Gronkowski had 94 yards of that offense, but superstar wide receiver Wes Welker was held to just 39 yards receiving thanks mostly to Taylor banging him around quite a bit in man coverage.

While the Steelers defense will not have to employ the “Big Nickel” or “Dime” every week in 2012, you can bet that they will at some point. They also figure to do so with Timmons back inside where he belongs and a healthy Harrison and Woodley outside. While Polamalu will likely continue to be that hybrid type safety to come up and play in the box, you have to wonder if maybe rookie linebacker Sean Spence might be able to fill that same role later on in the season to help lighten the wear and tear on Polamalu playing down low. While Spence is indeed considered a linebacker by the Steelers, his college tape shows him flying around the field like Polamalu does. This is why you have heard me refer to Spence following the draft as a possible “nickelbacker” type.

As far as “Dime” defense possibilities go this year, the Steelers did allow Gay to walk via free agency and now Lewis and Allen will battle to see who starts outside opposite Taylor. Your fourth cornerback on the field in “Dime” situations this year, assuming he doesn't win the starting nickel cornerback job, will be Curtis Brown. Although Brown did not receive any snaps on defense last year, we did get to see what type of tackler he was on special teams, where he will continue to contribute in 2012. A few of the Pittsburgh media have also noted how he stuck out during the first OTA session last week. Even though it was just football in shorts, it is worth noting.

So while Kirwan notes that a few teams still are working on ways to combat the offenses that feature the hybrid tight ends, LeBeau has been on it for a while now. Not only does he have a “Big Nickel” at his disposal, but a young “Dime” version as well.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/05/dick-lebeau-has-both-a-big-nickel-dime-to-spare-in-2012/

lardlad
05-30-2012, 08:43 PM
i couldnt agree more. i have often said that troy is the most dominant defender that teams have to scheme an entire offense around since reggie white and LT. going back 40 years lott and greene are certainly right there on top. if i could take off my hater cap i would probably include d. sanders as well.

troy is right there in that all time dominant group.

dick lebeaus great defense has been phenominal with a healthy troy to work with and i expect much of the same in '12. if sean spence were entering his 3rd year in the system, i think we could be deadly.

Troy is something. He is productive 98% reliable (once in a while he guesses wrong) but he does things you don't see others do at any position. It's great when you watch a game to know your at seeing one of the best ever.

tony hipchest
05-30-2012, 10:47 PM
nice article on the nicle and dime packages. when sean spence was first drafted my first though was that lebeau may tinker with him in sub packages as a big nickel variant.

Troy is something. He is productive 98% reliable (once in a while he guesses wrong) but he does things you don't see others do at any position. It's great when you watch a game to know your at seeing one of the best ever.

amen!

Hawaii 5-0
06-01-2012, 01:49 AM
Dick LeBeau - 5/30 Video from Steelers.com:

http://www.steelers.com/video-and-audio/videos/Dick-LeBeau---5-30/96475711-827c-484d-9347-5d42ee075f5a

Hawaii 5-0
06-05-2012, 03:43 PM
Steelers News Bulletin: LeBeau vs. Belichick

by Neal Coolong on Jun 4, 2012

http://cdn3.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/4244633/127886616_extra_large.jpg

Random thoughts often go through my head during the day. One landed today to the point I wanted to scrawl it out and see how it took.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is well known for his ability to put his system first, demand his players follow it to a T and in that, utilize those players to the best of their abilities.

He is dynamic with his defense (serving as the defensive coordinator), presenting multiple looks through several successful seasons.

Dick LeBeau contrasts with that philosophy in a few ways. LeBeau is static in his base approach. There are wrinkles, obviously, but Pittsburgh’s base defense has been a 3-4 for going on two decades now. LeBeau does just fine getting the most out of his players (Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison wasn’t drafted, Joey Porter was a third round pick, Ike Taylor barely even played cornerback when he was selected in the fourth round), but his approach is much more consistent – conservative even.

Yet, both coaches have multiple Super Bowls, and will go down as two of the better defensive minds of their era.

Thinking about it from a bigger picture perspective, it seems Belichick’s philosophy really leans on his confidence in his coaching ability, eye for talent and trusting of his position coaches to execute an ever-changing defensive strategy.

LeBeau’s suggests he trust his players – longtime veterans like Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark – understand the defense he’s coached, and will always be able to adjust when necessary.

Not that either of them are incapable of doing what the other does, they just choose their own way. Lots of different ways to get from Washington, D.C. to Manhattan.

Maybe that philosophy hindered Belichick’s defense last year. They ranked at or near the bottom in yards allowed, and not particularly impressive in points allowed, either. His borderline amazing ability to maintain a quality secondary filled with younger, lower-level prospects hit a bit of a snag last season, and while scoring big on linebackers like Jared Mayo (first round pick) and Rob Ninkovich (very underrated free agent signing), his team’s pass rush was weak at best. And yet, they still made the Super Bowl.

How often will Belichick’s defense, statistically, be as poor as they were in 2011? They put up great performances in two playoff wins (Ninkovich did what the Steelers could not, contain QB Tim Tebow), and it’s tough to label their Super Bowl loss to New York as a defensive breakdown.

While the Steelers’ one-and-out playoff performance wasn’t a shimmering example of LeBeau’s excellence, they led the NFL in scoring defense for the second straight year, and that was with several veterans in the front seven missing extensive time (every week, a starter was missing and each front seven starter missed at least one game, except ILB Lawrence Timmons - but he was moved out of position due to those injuries several times). They led the league in scoring and pass yards allowed, but they were among the bottom half of the league in sacks, and had, I believe, the lowest takeaway total ever for a playoff team. It’s hard to say this defense will be much, if any, less than what it was last year.

Doesn’t it seem as if these two teams – both with reason to believe their offenses will score a fair amount of points this year – are on a collision course? Is this finally the year for two of the game’s best over the last 11 seasons to square off one more time in the playoffs? The Harrisons and the Bradys and the Polamalus and the Wilforks, and the other last-standing members of dynasty-level teams, doing battle to settle it all? Maybe I’ve just wiped the dust off some bad 2001 memories courtesy of Mr. DeFeo’s column on Kordell Stewart, but I think the Patriots and Steelers will square off twice this year.

And the second one will be epic.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/6/4/3063243/Pittsburgh-steelers-new-england-patriots-dick-lebeau-bill-belichick#storyjump

tanda10506
06-05-2012, 07:43 PM
Steelers News Bulletin: LeBeau vs. Belichick

by Neal Coolong on Jun 4, 2012

http://cdn3.sbnation.com/entry_photo_images/4244633/127886616_extra_large.jpg

Random thoughts often go through my head during the day. One landed today to the point I wanted to scrawl it out and see how it took.

Patriots head coach Bill Belichick is well known for his ability to put his system first, demand his players follow it to a T and in that, utilize those players to the best of their abilities.

He is dynamic with his defense (serving as the defensive coordinator), presenting multiple looks through several successful seasons.

Dick LeBeau contrasts with that philosophy in a few ways. LeBeau is static in his base approach. There are wrinkles, obviously, but Pittsburgh’s base defense has been a 3-4 for going on two decades now. LeBeau does just fine getting the most out of his players (Defensive Player of the Year James Harrison wasn’t drafted, Joey Porter was a third round pick, Ike Taylor barely even played cornerback when he was selected in the fourth round), but his approach is much more consistent – conservative even.

Yet, both coaches have multiple Super Bowls, and will go down as two of the better defensive minds of their era.

Thinking about it from a bigger picture perspective, it seems Belichick’s philosophy really leans on his confidence in his coaching ability, eye for talent and trusting of his position coaches to execute an ever-changing defensive strategy.

LeBeau’s suggests he trust his players – longtime veterans like Casey Hampton, Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark – understand the defense he’s coached, and will always be able to adjust when necessary.

Not that either of them are incapable of doing what the other does, they just choose their own way. Lots of different ways to get from Washington, D.C. to Manhattan.

Maybe that philosophy hindered Belichick’s defense last year. They ranked at or near the bottom in yards allowed, and not particularly impressive in points allowed, either. His borderline amazing ability to maintain a quality secondary filled with younger, lower-level prospects hit a bit of a snag last season, and while scoring big on linebackers like Jared Mayo (first round pick) and Rob Ninkovich (very underrated free agent signing), his team’s pass rush was weak at best. And yet, they still made the Super Bowl.

How often will Belichick’s defense, statistically, be as poor as they were in 2011? They put up great performances in two playoff wins (Ninkovich did what the Steelers could not, contain QB Tim Tebow), and it’s tough to label their Super Bowl loss to New York as a defensive breakdown.

While the Steelers’ one-and-out playoff performance wasn’t a shimmering example of LeBeau’s excellence, they led the NFL in scoring defense for the second straight year, and that was with several veterans in the front seven missing extensive time (every week, a starter was missing and each front seven starter missed at least one game, except ILB Lawrence Timmons - but he was moved out of position due to those injuries several times). They led the league in scoring and pass yards allowed, but they were among the bottom half of the league in sacks, and had, I believe, the lowest takeaway total ever for a playoff team. It’s hard to say this defense will be much, if any, less than what it was last year.

Doesn’t it seem as if these two teams – both with reason to believe their offenses will score a fair amount of points this year – are on a collision course? Is this finally the year for two of the game’s best over the last 11 seasons to square off one more time in the playoffs? The Harrisons and the Bradys and the Polamalus and the Wilforks, and the other last-standing members of dynasty-level teams, doing battle to settle it all? Maybe I’ve just wiped the dust off some bad 2001 memories courtesy of Mr. DeFeo’s column on Kordell Stewart, but I think the Patriots and Steelers will square off twice this year.

And the second one will be epic.

http://www.behindthesteelcurtain.com/2012/6/4/3063243/Pittsburgh-steelers-new-england-patriots-dick-lebeau-bill-belichick#storyjump

First off, we don't play them this season at all unless it is in the playoffs so we won't play them twice.

As for who is the better coordinator, I will stay fair and say that LeBeau has had better players. That said, Belicheck gets most of his credit for what he did while cheating. It's pretty easy to be a DC if you know where the ball is going, all you have to do is put a guy there. The Patriots defense had a lot of good players when they went 18-1, but since then they have lost players every year and only replaced a few, which I'm sure had a role on their terrible defense this year. I don't give Belicheck credit for ANYTHING during spygate and his defense hasn't been that great year in and year out since then. What I will say for Bellicheck is his defense will rise to the occasion in the playoffs and they do have a great ability to stop the run if focused on. LeBeau may have had better players year in and year out, but he never CHEATED, stopping the run has been a guaranteed thing for us, and we rise up in the playoffs AND big regular season games. LeBeau will change things up occasionally when needed but overall he has put the same style of defense (formation, style of players, etc.) on the field every game and with all these years for opposing teams to figure it out, it was still #1 in a "down" year for us. Belicheck is good, but IMO he's not close to LeBeau.

Hawaii 5-0
06-10-2012, 03:16 AM
Dick LeBeau Confident That Steelers Defense Will Improve Turnovers

Sunday, June 10th, 2012 by Dave Bryan

In 2011 the defense of the Pittsburgh Steelers was good, if not great, in several statistical categories as they led the league in pass defense and scoring defense. While the run defense finished eighth, a category defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau admits that he wants to lead the league in every year, the biggest improvement he would like to see his unit make in 2012 is in the turnover category, and he is confident they will.

"Well I would say upping the turnovers is definitely number one," said LeBeau on Thursday when asked if improving turnovers was more important than improving against the run or putting more pressure on the opposing quarterback this upcoming season. "I think our pressure on the passer was good. We led the league in pass defense," said LeBeau. He continued on, "We led the league in scoring defense, so I always want to be one against the run, but we weren't. I think we were eight, but we were one in scoring. So there's no question in my mind that turnovers are where we've got to give a better number than what we had last year and I'm confident we will, we always have, but we didn't last year. Until we do it, the number is what it is," concluded the Hall of Famer.

It's no wonder why the defensive genius would point to the need of turnovers. Last year the team was last in the league with just 15 takeaways, which consisted of 11 interceptions and 4 fumble recoveries, 1 of which came courtesy of special teams. It was the lowest number of takeaways a LeBeau led defense has ever posted in all of his years as a defensive coordinator.

While LeBeau said that pressure on the passer was good last year, it certainly did not help that outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley both missed considerable time last year with injuries. In addition, inside linebacker Lawrence Timmons was forced to play outside quite a bit due to the injuries. Those aren't excuses mind you, but it is worth noting. The 35 sacks the defense registered last season was the lowest number posted by a Steelers defense since they registered 36 in 2007. More sacks equates to more opportunities for turnovers.

There is no magic formula for creating turnovers, but LeBeau did give more thoughts on it as the team heads into their mandatory mini-camp next week. "Just preach it and practice it," LeBeau said. "Turnovers are funny, one year you're up there, the next year you're not. But I see no reason why we were as low as we were last year. That's not good. We have to improve that number."

LeBeau is confident that they will and so am I.

http://www.steelersdepot.com/2012/06/dick-lebeau-confident-that-steelers-defense-will-improve-turnovers/