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Old 01-26-2007, 04:51 AM   #1
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Default LeBeau says he, Tomlin share same philosophy

LeBeau says he, Tomlin share same philosophy
Friday, January 26, 2007

By Gerry Dulac, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

MOBILE, Ala. -- This is getting a little ridiculous for Dick LeBeau.

It is one thing to work for a head coach who was in high school when LeBeau was finishing his sterling National Football League playing career.

Dick LeBeau is Very impressed with new head coach Mike Tomlin
But when the new head coach is half your age?

When he was born the same year you retired as a player in 1972?

"Life takes some funny turns," LeBeau said, wearing a bemused look.

LeBeau, who will return as the Steelers' defensive coordinator, was 20 years older than his former boss, Bill Cowher. He was still playing at Ohio State when Cowher was born in 1957.

But LeBeau, 69, is a little more than twice the age of the Steelers' new coach, Mike Tomlin, who is 34. He likely has ripped more defensive schemes from a playbook than Tomlin has devised in six previous seasons of coaching in the NFL.

None of that, though, appears to bother LeBeau, a former NFL head coach himself.

"I'm very impressed with him," LeBeau said. "He seemed like a very intelligent man who knows what he wants to do. I was impressed with his poise and his confidence."

One of Tomlin's first priorities as the Steelers' coach was to retain LeBeau, who will be 70 in September, to run the defense, an indication he is not ready to abandon the 3-4 defense the Steelers have played since Cowher became coach in 1992.

When he decided to retain all but one of the defensive assistant coaches -- only secondary coach Darren Perry will not be brought back -- Tomlin sent another strong signal that he is not ready to switch to the type of defense he learned under Tony Dungy at Tampa Bay and employed last year as defensive coordinator of the Minnesota Vikings.

Tomlin is a disciple of Dungy's cover-2 defense, also known as the Tampa-2, a scheme that lacks the amount of fire-zone blitzes and single coverages favored by LeBeau. But when asked if he is married to that approach, Tomlin said, "I'm married to being a fundamentalist.

"I had to make adjustments to what I envisioned my package being when I went to Minnesota to fit the personnel. That's just part of coaching. I'm married to an approach to the game. It's more about how you do what you do, as opposed to specifically what you do. Yes, it has to be sound. But it's the quality of the detail, the belief in the men who not only install it but the guys who do it."

Even Detroit Lions coach Rod Marinelli, who was the defensive line coach in Tampa Bay when Tomlin was the secondary coach, said his former co-worker would have no problem using a 3-4 defense with the Steelers.

"He's a teacher," Marinelli said. "It's not what you're doing -- it's how you're doing it."

All that is encouraging news to LeBeau, the father of the fire-zone blitz.

"They've been drafting here for 15 years for the 3-4 defense, so, obviously, we're put together to play the 3-4," LeBeau said during a break in practice sessions at the Senior Bowl. "I don't see us, philosophically, at odds at all.

"I have a great deal of confidence in this group. I feel we can be very productive. I think our players like our scheme. I can tell you this -- we'll be an attack defense, no matter what our front is."

LeBeau is the oldest of the assistant coaches who have been retained or will be hired by Tomlin. And he is part of a graybeard staff that also includes offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, who is 55, and new quarterback coach Ken Anderson, who is 57. Tomlin also is considering the hiring of Buffalo Bills assistant offensive line coach Larry Zierlein, who will be 62 in July, to replace Russ Grimm. Throw in defensive line coach John Mitchell, 55, and Tomlin, who will enter only his seventh season as an NFL coach, is surrounding himself with a wealth of coaching experience.

"It hasn't been any conscious effort to select men in that regard," Tomlin said. "More than anything, it's been about good people who happen to be good coaches. And, not that we all think the same, but guys who have the base core football values that I have -- that as coaches we need to be teachers. Success is built on fundamentals, muscle memory and execution."

LeBeau has been a part of the defense for eight seasons. He joined Cowher's original staff as secondary coach in 1992 and became the defensive coordinator in 1995. LeBeau left in 1998 to join the Cincinnati Bengals as defensive coordinator, then returned to the Steelers in 2004 when Tim Lewis was fired. Only Mitchell (1994 to present) has had a longer stint as a defensive assistant coach with the team.

Tomlin became aware of LeBeau when he was a secondary coach at the University of Cincinnati (1999-2001) at the same time LeBeau was the Bengals' head coach.

"Dick LeBeau is Dick LeBeau," Tomlin said. "Everybody knows Dick. I'm sure he doesn't remember, but, when I was coaching at University of Cincinnati, he was across town at the Bengals, and I'd run into a bunch of those guys and studied a bunch of their tape. They were good to us."

Now they can watch tape together.

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Old 01-26-2007, 06:36 AM   #2
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Default Re: LeBeau says he, Tomlin share same philosophy

I'm sorry, 83 - I-Want-Troy's-Hair already posted this article in the Welcome to Coach Tomlin thread at 12:43 AM this morning.

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