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Pittsburgh Steelers Defense Must Wake up and Regain Their Swagger

November 9th, 2013 at 8:28 PM
By Mark Mihalko

What a weird week and season is has been for the Pittsburgh Steelers. Face it, the stars have aligned in some alternate universe where the Pittsburgh Pirates are the championship contenders in the city and the once proud Steelers franchise is at the bottom of their division. Insane, honestly, insane.

'Steelers vs. Bills' photo (c) 2007, Cynthia Closkey - license: http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0/
What makes it even more insane is the fact that both fans and the media are questioning the long term validity of defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau. That was especially the case this we after the Steelers debacle against the New England Patriots, one of the worst defensive performances in the history of the franchise. It was so bad, it almost appeared as if the Patriots had the defensive huddle bugged and knew exactly what to call at every turn.

Of course, that is not the first time in 2013 where that same scenario has played out. In fact, it has been a trend that started a few seasons ago when the turnover and sack drought seemed to begin. Some fans and staunch LeBeau supporters will put all the blame on the players, the talent and general manager Kevin Colbert for his drafts. Yes, that does play a role, but it also does not help that the Steelers’ defense is stale and predictable.

Yes, statistically the defense has been tremendous ranking near the top for multiple seasons. Why, because of the talent of the players and not the play calling and scheme as many realize. Looking back at 2013, there were so many similarities in certain games to the meltdown in New England. A perfect example can be found in the loss to the Chicago Bears, it was clear that the Bears play calling was spot on for the plays being called by the Steelers’ sideline.

When the Steelers blitzed up the middle, they had a quick hit to the outside dialed up. When the Steelers would overload, they already had the protection set in that direction. The disturbing thing to think about is the fact that the Bears were an NFC opponent and one that is relatively unfamiliar with the Steelers on a seasonal basis. If they can predict what defensive calls the Steelers will make, it is no wonder why AFC opponents have success and the Patriots drove exact point home

Sure, all of this could be a coincidence, and maybe all the LeBeau supporters are right and it is the talent pool, but honestly, the tape does not lie. Sure, LeBeau deserves a chance to turn this defense around; after all, he has a place in NFL lore as the father of the Zone Blitz scheme. Yet, if the Steelers do not change their philosophy soon, he may not have much time left. One look at 2013 will bear that out, as the exotic blitzes are down and the defense plays more like a passive Tampa-Two scheme, than the famed Blitzburgh defense of years gone by. In reality, maybe it is time to question the lack of creativity coming from the defensive side of the ball.  

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Tags: Dick Lebeau, Football, NFL, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Steelers

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