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Old 01-20-2009, 10:28 PM   #1
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Default Dick LeBeau - Assistant Coach of the Year

2008 PFW/PFWA awards: Assistant Coach of the Year

LeBeau’s zone blitzes and talented, veteran ‘D’ key combo for Steelers

By Mike Wilkening
Jan. 20, 2009

It isn’t every day that a coach refers to an 18th-century Prussian king when talking about his defensive philosophy. But the point Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau was trying to make comes across clear whether history class was something you relished or just an occasion to mark time.

“I’m a bit of a history buff,” said LeBeau, whose zone-blitz schemes have become part of NFL legend. “It was Frederick the Great who said, ‘He who defends everything defends nothing.’ We’re willing to concede that the opponent is going to make some plays.”

But opponents just haven’t made a lot of plays vs. the Super Bowl-bound Steelers during the 2008 season, which goes a long way in explaining why LeBeau garnered Assistant Coach of the Year honors from Pro Football Weekly and the Professional Football Writers of America. It’s the second time in five seasons in his second stint as the Steelers’ defensive coordinator that he has received the award. LeBeau, 71, also was honored in ’04, when the 15-1 Steelers advanced to the AFC championship game.

The ’08 Steelers were stout and sound in all facets of defense during the regular season. They allowed fewer yards per game than any other (237.2). Their pass defense, led by Pro Bowl S Troy Polamalu, allowed only 156.9 yards per game, tops in the NFL. The Steelers surrendered only 23 passes for gains of 20 yards or more — 10 fewer than the teams tied for second in this category.

Their run defense also was outstanding. Only the Vikings allowed fewer rushing yards per game. No team allowed fewer yards per carry than Pittsburgh.

Asked what he would remember most about this defense, LeBeau marveled at how it can swarm — and how it regroups.

We’re a fast defense at all levels,” LeBeau said. “They can play together, and they can take a punch.

“Teams are going to have a series of good plays against you. And these guys, they don’t blink. They continue to play.”

They were also capable of creating havoc for opposing quarterbacks.

The Steelers notched 51 sacks, four off the club record. ROLB James Harrison’s 16 sacks set a franchise mark. LOLB LaMarr Woodley, a star in the making, notched 11˝ sacks.

If Harrison and Woodley weren’t difficult enough for opponents to handle, there was the prospect of speedy ILBs Lawrence Timmons (five sacks) and James Farrior (3˝ sacks) breaking through on the blitz. Rugged DLE Aaron Smith added 5˝ sacks.

“We think that surprise is important, and to have surprise, you have to have variety,” LeBeau said.

He added, “With players like this, it works pretty good.”

Continuity has been a major key for the Steelers’ defense. Nine of the 11 starters have been first-stringers for multiple seasons in LeBeau’s defense, and key backups like S Tyrone Carter, CB Deshea Townsend and NT Chris Hoke also have multiple years of experience in the system.

“These are all proven, veteran guys,” LeBeau said of his defense. “They understand the game, and they understand where each other is going to be.”

The respect between LeBeau and his players is mutual.

“He’s almost like a father figure to us,” Harrison said of LeBeau, who has 50 years of NFL experience as a player and coach. “He can teach you anything you want to know.”

And LeBeau relishes teaching students who care deeply about their craft.

“I have a great, great bunch of players who play hard every week and study the game and make my job easy,” he said.

All-time winners — Assistant Coach of the Year

2008 Dick LeBeau / Pitt.
2007 Jason Garrett / Dall.
2006 Rex Ryan / Balt.
2005 Ron Rivera / Chi.
2004 Dick LeBeau / Pitt.
2003 Romeo Crennel / N.E.
2002 Monte Kiffin / T.B.
2001 Mike Mularkey / Pitt.
2000 Marvin Lewis / Balt.
1999 Dom Capers / Jax.
1998 Brian Billick / Minn.
1997 John Fox / N.Y.G.
1996 Dave Campo / Dall.
1995 Pete Carroll / S.F.
1994 Dom Capers / Pitt.
1993 Ray Rhodes / G.B.
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Old 01-20-2009, 10:42 PM   #2
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Default Re: Dick LeBeau - Assistant Coach of the Year

1/4th of the winners are Steelers coaches.
Knute Rockne: The secret is to work less as individuals and more as a team. As a coach, I play not my eleven best, but my best eleven.
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Old 01-20-2009, 11:45 PM   #3
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Default Re: Dick LeBeau - Assistant Coach of the Year


"You win by attrition. You impose your will on your opponent." ~ Mike Tomlin
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Old 01-21-2009, 07:38 AM   #4
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Default Re: Dick LeBeau - Assistant Coach of the Year

Congrats LeBeau. Great read on him and thanks for sharing Mesa. Now if everyone would just be intelligent enough to get this guy in the HOF.
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Old 01-21-2009, 07:43 AM   #5
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Default Re: Dick LeBeau - Assistant Coach of the Year

Congratulations Coach Lebeau! Well deserved honor!

Now get your boyz ready for February 1st - we want to see you again hoisting the greatest honor of all!

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Old 01-21-2009, 07:43 AM   #6
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LeBeau is highly appreciated
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