My Thoughts on LeBeau and Arians Returning in 2012

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Dick LeBeau

Is it finally time for Dick to quit? Image Courtesy of bleacherreport.com

Don’t get me wrong, Dick LeBeau is an innovator and one of the greatest Coordinators to ever coach in the N.F.L..  He has done an amazing job over the years of building this Steelers Defense, and had some wonderful successes.  However, success has not always been had throughout LeBeau’s tenure, especially in these past few seasons.  That is why I feel that Dick LeBeau’s performance as a Defensive Coordinator in recent years must come under at least some scrutiny.

Past 4th Quarter Meltdowns and Sub-Par Strategy:

I know I know, Dick LeBeau is the master of the Defense, he can never come under scrutiny.  Yet as it has been illustrated over the last few years: When the 4th Quarter starts, the Steelers’ Defense has the ability and has shown a knack to cave-in:

Take 2009 for example.  The Steelers’ Defense allowed FIVE 4th Quarter Meltdowns to happen in a season that saw them miss out on the Playoffs after a Super Bowl winning 2008 year.  The meltdowns on Defense can be attributed to shoddy play by the members of the Defense, but also blame needs to be placed to a lack of intelligent strategy and game-planning.  Oh I forgot to mention, it’s not like the Steelers were playing the ‘11 Saints either.

Three of those 4th Quarter meltdowns were against teams with losing records (Bears, Chiefs, Raiders).  Oh and it was Matt Cassel and Bruce Gradkowski that sliced and diced the LeBeau soft-zone crap.  Not John Elway!  These were teams ranked 21st and 32nd in passing TD’s for the season, and LeBeau’s wonderful strategy ensured 5 TD’s through the air in both of those games.  Not to mention, Gradkowski and Cassel shredded the Steelers’ Defense in the 4th Quarter like they were a Freddy Krueger victim.  Then you factor in the first loss to Cincinnati and the loss to Baltimore, and you have four losses (the other one to the Bears can be attributed to Arians’ play-calling, and Jeff Reed’s crappy kicking as well) that cost the Steelers a Playoff berth.

Heck, even in 2008, it’s not like Big Ben and the Offense didn’t have to come and save the day once and a while.  They made up for what could have been losses in Jacksonville, Baltimore (meeting #1), and then most importantly Super Bowl XLIII.  Had the Steelers blown that game, Dick LeBeau would have been almost fully responsible for his second Super Bowl loss in the state of Florida.  Dick’s Defense gave up 14 points in the 4th Quarter, and moved the ball almost at will.  Heck, had Whisenhunt not attempted to run his way through the 1st Half, Arizona could have hung at least 45 on the Steelers Defense that day.

In addition to the meltdowns, I would bring up LeBeau’s issues against the Patriots, Saints, Packers, etc. or any team that has loved to spread them out over the years, get them out of their base personnel, and feast on the dink and dunk routes that the Steelers give up due to a lack of press coverage, but that would cause me to start voiding my bowels.  The fact that it took LeBeau until this season to start pressing these WR’s  in these Offenses and rushing the QB’s up the middle is sad in a way.

Last Weekend’s Cherry On Top of the Crap-Laden Sundae:

There was so much wrong with Pittsburgh’s Defensive strategy this past weekend that I’m having trouble typing this without going into fits of rage.  However, here are some of the “greatest hits:”

Why the heck wouldn’t you at least bracket or commit another guy to Demaryius Thomas after the 2nd Quarter?  The dude is running free down the field and he’s Tebow’s #1 option!  Sure we can blame Ike Taylor all we want, but the fact Dick didn’t go to his tried and true strategy of soft-zone to close a game (which would have been a perfect time to use it) was moronic!

I distinctly told my friend after the coin toss: “Dude, Denver can’t go 80 yards and get a TD on a 15 play drive.  Tebow’s accuracy will cost him and they will get a FG at best if the Steelers just play smart and go zone.  Under no circumstances should they go man-on-man, because Denver will try to end it with one big play.”

Lo and behold, I finished those statements right as the ball was snapped.  Of course, Dick LeBeau wasn’t listening or the thought didn’t even cross his mind that Denver would have trouble going 80 yards and converting 3rd Downs while their running game was having an off-day.  All I can say is that a quick score was needed by Denver, the Broncos played to win, and you played not to lose yet again, Dick.  It was the most asinine strategy I’ve ever seen!  You left poor Ike hanging out to dry in 0-Coverage and it looked worse than the Fitzgerald from Warner play in Super Bowl XLIII.

Or how about allowing Tebow to roll to his Left the entire game as well?!  Every national media outlet and even if you watched a Half of any of Denver’s final three games illustrated a huge hole in Tebow’s game: Throwing to his Right.  The dude couldn’t do it, but he could do one thing well, throwing to his left.  Each of Denver’s previous three opponents didn’t allow it to happen, so you would figure that LeBeau would employ a similar strategy.  Wrong!  Tebow hit his WR’s to his left all day long!  No pressure supplied and barely any harassment whatsoever.

How about some Safety and CB Blitzes to confuse and harry Tebow?  Oh right, there were none!  Sure, play 10 in the box, but dear God would it kill you to use William Gay, Polamalu, or even Ike Taylor off the edge once or twice?  A Sack strip in a game like this would have been monumental!  But no!  Not for Dick LeBeau, let’s no use our best DB Blitzers and let them get eaten alive by a WR corps missing their #2 guy in Eric Decker.

Hell, and what was with Woodley (and also James Farrior since 2008) in pass coverage the amount of time he was?  The dude does one thing well (rush the passer), and you take it away from him to cover pass catchers not even looked at by Tebow?  Unacceptable!  You needed to bring some outside heat on Timmy with him and Deebo, but no….gotta have the 270 lb. guy in coverage all game long!

Tim Tebow, not Aaron Rodgers, not Tom Brady, not Peyton Manning, but Tim Tebow shredded your Defense and its steaming pile of manure-like strategy.  A guy that throws for under 50% in the regular season throws for over 300 yards eats you alive?  Ok, Dick, fine.  Just know that you won’t be getting a free pass from me.

2011: An Honest Look At Dick and the Defense’s “Success”:

This is a Defense that may be statistically imposing and to his credit has been during Dick’s tenure.  However, take a look at what Dick’s supposedly amazing Defenses have done against actual competition in the past few years and then come and talk to me.  2011 will provide us with a terrific example:

First off, let me say that it’s less than difficult to accumulate great Defensive stats when your team is feasting on Cleveland and Cincinnati four times each and every season.  Moreover, taking advantage of Tarvaris Jackson, Curtis Painter, Blaine Gabbert, Matt Hasselbeck, Tyler Palko, Kevin Kolb, Colt McCoy, Andy Dalton and Kellen Clemens is something that any Defensive Coordinator that is considered competent SHOULD be doing.

Sure, Dick had a nice game against the Patriots because he went to press coverage and actually checked New England’s WR’s at the l.o.s..  Friggin’ finally!  Only after 7 years of getting abused by Tom Brady does the guy learn to press the Patriots’ elite smurf WR’s!  It’s a miracle!

Yet having a lax pass rush and allowing a 92 yard drive to the Ravens and an immobile Joe Flacco in a must win game and not outfoxing Cam Cameron?  Pathetic.  Allowing 38 points on opening day to Baltimore?  Lazy.  Barely even planning for the zone-running-scheme against the Texans and allowing them a 10 minute TD drive out of the gate?  Jagoffery.  Not devising a scheme to even Sack Alex Smith and not even forcing a turnover?  Joke.  Then you tack on the Tebow thing?  Absolutely despicable.

Total and complete garbage, Image Courtesy of post-gazette.com

For those of you giving Dick a “free pass,” let me ask you one simple question: If it was any other Defensive Coordinator in charge after this last performance (Jim Haslett, Tim Lewis, etc.) in addition to the amounts of blown leads and bed-crapping performances over the last few years, would you defend them in the same way?  Yeah, that’s what I thought.

If this was the first and only time something like last Sunday happened, I would chalk it up to bad luck and a lack of judgement.  However, this type of lackadaisical strategy and play has happened too often to the Defense late in games in 2011 in addition to seasons past, and there has remained one constant through it all: Dick LeBeau. The double-standard must end now, and people at least should start questioning Dick’s future with the club 2012 and beyond.  The dude is not bullet-proof ladies and gents., and we should at least put his performance as a Coordinator into question.

Conclusion

If what took place in 2011 is considered “The Standard” now, and people are fine with it, then ok.  I’ll support this team through thick and thin and I always will.  I may not agree with what is done, but I’m on board 100%.  Yet as a fan and human being with critical thinking skills, I still have the right to question specific moves that are made by the franchise for better or worse.  It’s not a head-hunting attitude, all I feel like is that these coaches need to be held accountable for their performances during not only 2011, but the last half decade as well.

Does it mean that they don’t deserve to keep their jobs?  That was entirely up to the Front Office, but these guys along with everybody else on the roster and coaching staff needed to be disciplined thoroughly for that putrid display put on last Sunday.  I guess they didn’t get that proverbial “memo.”  All I can say now is that I hope this was the right move, and that I’ll always support the Steelers no matter what they do.

 

Let your angry comments and criticism begin

 

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