Through no interrogation – in almost an invitation to the rest of the teams that play the Steelers to use this information – the nation learned through Carson Palmer that Dick LeBeau is predictable. And, not only predictable but that the familiarity of past seasons with LeBeau’s system came to be an advantage for Palmer and the Oakland Raider offense.
I love LeBeau. Or is it that I love the ‘idea’ of LeBeau? His legendary defense used to strike fear into the opposing offenses. Used to. Or does it still? If you think about what Carson Palmer had to say a few weeks ago, it would appear that those who are familiar with playing the Steelers in the past decade or longer are salivating at the chance to take on this once renowned defensive scheme.
LeBeau has been criticized before about his predictability and refusal to adjust at times. One would be hard pressed to claim that that criticism is unfounded. Many of the Steelers losses have come from the defense’s inability to evolve over the course of a contest. The nature of the game allows for teams to make adjustments quarter to quarter, series to series – do you see how quickly binders of photos are produced of formations that players and coaches pour over while on the bench? As an offense tries different things to see what ‘works’ so too should the defense change. If an offense finds success somewhere, you would think a coach would make an adjustment to prevent that from happening again.
This either seems to be a foreign term to LeBeau or that he just can’t help it, it’s in his nature. It reminds me of that moment in Stars Wars Return of the Jedi when Luke Skywalker and the rest of the Endor team do a close flyby of the star destroyer good ol’ Darth Vader inhabits. Luke says ‘I shouldn’t have come. I’m endangering the mission,’ as you can tell that Vader feels Luke’s presence.
It’s like teams can sense what LeBeau is about to call. Like The Force between Jedi, offensive coordinators and quarterbacks can sense what LeBeau is about to bring… his tendencies if you will. Mike Munchak and Matt Hasselbeck are two Titans who are very familiar with LeBeau – not only from the last few contests against each other but also from Munchak’s rival relationship with LeBeau from the Houston Oiler and Cincy Bengal days. Now I’m sure LeBeau’s defense has evolved a bit since the 90′s, and he had the Titan’s number last season when the Steelers beat them handedly 38-17. But is the ol’ coot a little too habitual in his play calling in 2012? Those tendencies could very well be the deciding factor between a 3 yard loss or a 65 yard touchdown.
Let’s hope LeBeau has a few Jedi mind tricks up his sleeve (or as the NFL calls them, wrinkles) to help the Steelers D clamp down on the struggling Titans offense.