Originally Posted by FanSince72
First of all let's get one thing straight; Dick LeBeau did not "invent" the Zone Blitz - he simply refined it as many Defensive Coordinators have for years. The Zone Blitz has been around for about 40 years and was used extensively by the Miami Dolphins in the early 70's and Bill Arnsparger is often credited with "inventing" it.
That said, LeBeau did use the ZB in ways that were very creative and for a while it was a defensive scheme that was difficult to game-plan against and was thus very successful for a long time. But these days, virtually every team in the league is using some version of the ZB and as a result, most teams have a plan for playing against it.
LeBeau was a great DC and in some ways still is but my biggest complaint with him is that he doesn't seem to be able to adapt to an ever more changing game and he tends to rely on "Old School" methods and this was demonstrated quite clearly when the rules changed regarding the way defensive players can hit offensive players. Being an "Old School" player and coach, LeBeau (like many other such players who became coaches) learned to play defensive football in an era when hitting and intimidation was commonplace and he, naturally, passed on that mindset to his players. This worked for many years and the old "Imposing Your Will" approach, which included a good deal of token hitting and overkill tackling was often all that was necessary to basically scare the shit out of an opponent to the point where receivers shied away from crossing routes or other situations that might result in some crushing blow.
Nowadays, with the rules beefed up to eliminate such contact, LeBeau seems lost. He now (possibly for the first time in his career) has to think of ways to defend against offenses without relying on physicality and to play more as one might play a game of chess and he doesn't seem to be able to do that. He has (thankfully) concentrated more on the Secondary which has improved greatly but has become way too "soft" in the 10 to15-yard area and the line play - particularly in the blitzing department has suffered and I think it's because he can no longer rely on brute force as he has in the past.
Today's game is more about guile and cunning than simply an elbow to the head and I think LeBeau is too steeped in the old physical game (and too old to want to try to change gears now) to try to develop a more cerebral approach to the game.
I can't figure out how you can say LeBeau cannot adapt. This year with OLBers who underperformed he still managed to have the top defense in the league. In his scheme the OLB are to set the tone and pressure the QB. I'd say that is adapting to his players fairly well. You can't blame LeBeau for the vanishing act Woodley has performed. He rushed the QB over 19 times in the bengal game and ended with no sacks. All this while being blocked man on man by either a tackle or a TE, against one of the worst Olines in the game. That is unacceptable. Harrison generated little QB pressure this year either. That was not by design, but more due to underperforming players. Equip LeBeau with some players who can get to the QB and his D will improve even more, along with the turnovers that have been lacking.