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Old 01-31-2007, 02:47 AM   #1
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Default Prisuta: LeBeau confident in "Cover 2"

This is bound to cause some heart attacks among the faithful...


LeBeau confident in 'Cover 2'


By Mike Prisuta
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Wednesday, January 31, 2007

The concept of "Cover 2" is neither the polar opposite of the way Dick LeBeau likes to play defense nor foreign to the Steelers' unit he coordinates.

"We've always been a pretty big 'Cover 2' team," LeBeau said Tuesday. "At one time, we probably were a 'Cover 2' team. For the last three years, we've been close to a 50-percent 'Cover 2' team."

"Cover 2" was originated by then-Steelers defensive coordinator Bud Carson in the 1970s. The basic idea was to prevent big plays by positioning a pair of safeties, each responsible for 50 percent of the field, in deep coverage.

Former Steelers safety and former Steelers assistant coach Tony Dungy expanded "Cover 2" into what has become known across the NFL as the 'Tampa 2' during his days as the head coach of the Buccaneers (1996-2001). Dungy's innovation was to assign the middle linebacker deep-middle coverage responsibility in "Cover 2."

Dungy's Colts and Lovie Smith's Chicago Bears meet Sunday in Super Bowl XLI. Smith is a former Dungy assistant in Tampa. Both defenses feature the "Tampa 2" version of "Cover 2."

The Steelers are famous for using a zone-blitz, which LeBeau created in Cincinnati in the 1980s.

But that doesn't mean the Steelers haven't been well-versed in the principles of "Cover 2" all along, both in recent seasons and during LeBeau's first tour as an assistant under Bill Cowher from 1992-96.

"Hopefully, we've disguised it well enough that you can't tell before the ball gets snapped," LeBeau said.

Thus, if new Steelers coach and former Dungy disciple Mike Tomlin wants to emphasize "Cover 2" over the zone-blitz or the 4-3 front as opposed to the Steelers' standard 3-4, LeBeau believes the Steelers will have that covered.

"The head coach is going set the overall tenor and philosophy of our team," LeBeau said. "Whatever he would decide to do is what we're going to do.

"Now, you might say I'm a little bit of a 3-4 guy and our guys are 3-4 guys. And I think that will come into consideration, but it's up to Mike. Philosophically, whether it's the 3-4 or the 4-3, I don't think we'll have any trouble doing what we want to do, which is put pressure on the quarterback."

The Steelers' zone-blitz approach has always endeavored to do so by surprise because the Steelers have always favored a three-man line.

"In a four-man line, you're saying 'Here are our linemen and these are our linebackers,'" LeBeau said. "Now, you can still rush linebackers and drop linemen, but your linemen are identified as four down linemen in the 4-3. In the 3-4, you're saying, 'Here are our three linemen. You figure out which of our linebackers is going to be the fourth, or the fifth pass-rusher.'

"If we're going to go to 'Cover 2,' we'll only have four rushers. If we're going to a zone-pressure (zone-blitz), we'll have five or more. But we can still play some '2' coverage concepts behind a five-man rush."

LeBeau maintains the Steelers are capable of playing a four-man front because of the versatility of defensive ends Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel and the presence of backup nose tackle Chris Hoke.

And LeBeau considers "Cover 2" capability a necessity in today's game as a method of combating offenses that spread the field in search of the big play.

"I think you gotta play some '2' coverage," LeBeau said. "It would be very hard to find any team in college or pro ball that doesn't play some sort of 'Cover 2.'

"I don't think that anybody plays any coverage all the time. The quarterbacks are too good. Even Indianapolis, you might say, is a 'Cover 2' team. Probably (the Colts') run to the Super Bowl has come from the way their defense has played down the stretch, but it hasn't been all 'Cover 2,' I can promise you that."

http://www.pittsburghlive.com/x/pitt.../s_491036.html
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Old 01-31-2007, 07:16 AM   #2
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Default Re: Prisuta: LeBeau confident in "Cover 2"

we get caught up in labeling a defense by x y or z

Most teams play a lot of cover 2, Steelers use a 4-3 formation sometimes. I don't really care if it all works.

I am not a die hard 3-4 guy. Steelers no longer have the LBs to even play a 3-4 and it doesn't seem like it's as easy to find now with all the other teams playing that defense and drafting talent the Steelers could wait until the 3rd or 4th round for.
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Old 01-31-2007, 07:50 AM   #3
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Default Re: Prisuta: LeBeau confident in "Cover 2"

I've been saying this since we hired Tomlin. (Well, not on here since I'm new here)
We have been playing a kind of Cover 2 at times for several years. While it's not the formal "label" of our defense the scheme is not at all foreign to our coaches or our players.
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Old 01-31-2007, 08:14 AM   #4
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Default Re: Prisuta: LeBeau confident in "Cover 2"

In the 70's when we won 4 SB's, I believe they were using the 4-3. However, they had the guys they needed to fill those roles. (Most Steeler fans probably panicked when the 3-4 was brought in).

I think ANY defense will work super well as long as you have the right guys in the right place--but having the "right" guys is imperative for it to be effective.

Even though we might not use the 3-4 exclusively, it is our "main" scheme, and it's served us well--as evidenced by this article from the Dallas Morning News--and they call it the "Super D" in another part of the story. They call it that for a reason, and you'll see why when you read this.


Quote:
Six NFL teams used a 3-4 scheme as their base defense in 2006 and half of them have reached the conference semifinal playoff round. This comes on the heels of 3-4 defenses winning the last three Super Bowls.

The Cowboys finished 13th in the NFL in defense and 10th against the run this season. Four NFL teams played better 3-4s.

The Baltimore Ravens finished first in defense and second against the run. The New England Patriots finished sixth in defense and fifth against the run, and the San Diego Chargers finished 10th in defense and seventh against the run. All three teams play this weekend for the right to advance to the AFC Championship Game.

The Pittsburgh Steelers also fielded a Top 10 defense with their 3-4, finishing ninth overall and third against the run but failed to qualify for the playoffs with an 8-8 record.

The Steelers did win the Super Bowl last season with a defense that ranked in the top 5 overall and against the run. The Patriots won Super Bowls in 2003 and 2004, with defenses that ranked in the top 10 overall and against the run.

The only other NFL team to play a 3-4 in 2006 was the Cleveland Browns

The 3-4 has long been a great pass-rush scheme. The Giants under Bill Parcells set a franchise record with 68 sacks in 1985 with Hall of Famer Lawrence Taylor leading the charge. The Steelers, Ravens and Chargers have all led the NFL in sacks this decade in their 3-4s.

In fact, the Chargers and Ravens finished 1-2 in sacks this season. San Diego collected 61, Baltimore set a franchise record with 60, and New England finished fifth with 44.

When the quarterback does get the ball out of his hand, the 3-4 is an opportunistic defense. Seven NFL teams intercepted 20 or more passes this season and three of them played a 3-4. The Ravens led with 28 interceptions, the Patriots picked off 22 and the Steelers 20.
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Old 01-31-2007, 12:23 PM   #5
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Default Re: Prisuta: LeBeau confident in "Cover 2"

I was going to suggest that the cover 2 might inhibit the playmaking talents of Troy P. but then I remembered Bob Sanders and the Colts operate out of that system.

The cover 2 obviously removes some of the pressure from the CB's, maybe it'll free them up to make some plays on the ball.

The LBers should typically be mobile with an ability to cover TE's stride for stride.

It will very interesting to watch this transition take place.

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Old 01-31-2007, 12:42 PM   #6
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Default Re: Prisuta: LeBeau confident in "Cover 2"

I'm probably in the vast majority of us who couldn't tell a cover 2 from a cover 11; I guess I could tell a 4-3 from a 3-4, but I don't really pay attention... I'm just sitting there screaming "GET HIM!!! GET HIM!!!!"

That's all that matters to me; GET HIM!!!

hehe.


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Old 01-31-2007, 01:11 PM   #7
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Default Re: Prisuta: LeBeau confident in "Cover 2"

The Steelers have utilized the Cover 2 but as Lebeau stated, it has been disguised pretty well. That isn't his coverage of choice, obviously, but he seems amenable to Tomlin's input and direction, which can only benefit the team. I'm sure Lebeau will be cooking up quite a few new defensive schemes utilizing what he has and maybe picking up a FA or a draft pick to throw into the mix. Change can indeed be good and I believe the 2007 season is going to be chock-full of surprises.
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Old 01-31-2007, 01:20 PM   #8
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Default Re: Prisuta: LeBeau confident in "Cover 2"

Well I certainly didn't expect to see an interview where LeBeau would say comparing the intelligence required to design his zone blitz schemes to the brainpower behind the "Tampa Cover 2" is like comparing Picasso's work to finger painting by a pre-schooler.

Tomlin is not going to admit the Rooneys more or less told him that keeping LeBeau was a condition of getting the job and, even if he believes it, LeBeau is not going to admit he has little or nothing to learn from a kid HC who was born around the time LeBeau started coaching.

We will just have to wait until the draft and pre-season to note personnel moves and actual alignments before concluding how much change will occur.
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Old 01-31-2007, 01:46 PM   #9
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Default Re: Prisuta: LeBeau confident in "Cover 2"

Quote:
"Now, you might say I'm a little bit of a 3-4 guy and our guys are 3-4 guys. And I think that will come into consideration, but it's up to Mike. Philosophically, whether it's the 3-4 or the 4-3, I don't think we'll have any trouble doing what we want to do, which is put pressure on the quarterback."
Nothing like trying to ram a square peg in a round hole...
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Old 01-31-2007, 01:47 PM   #10
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Default Re: Prisuta: LeBeau confident in "Cover 2"

Quote:
Originally Posted by Atlanta Dan View Post
Well I certainly didn't expect to see an interview where LeBeau would say comparing the intelligence required to design his zone blitz schemes to the brainpower behind the "Tampa Cover 2" is like comparing Picasso's work to finger painting by a pre-schooler.

Tomlin is not going to admit the Rooneys more or less told him that keeping LeBeau was a condition of getting the job and, even if he believes it, LeBeau is not going to admit he has little or nothing to learn from a kid HC who was born around the time LeBeau started coaching.

We will just have to wait until the draft and pre-season to note personnel moves and actual alignments before concluding how much change will occur.
While you indeed may be correct with your assumption, Dan, and you more than likely are - Lebeau has always come across to me as a guy who can adjust to almost anything. It will be interesting to see what transpires with our D by putting these two minds together and seeing what they can cook up.
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