I realize that even making mention of a topic like this to Pittsburgh Steelers fans could cause some significant outrage. But even with that, I will broach the subject of defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and his future with the Steelers franchise. But I promise Steelers fans, it’s going to be OK.
In no way am I suggesting that LeBeau cannot coach anymore, or that this defense is bad under LeBeau. Quite the contrary, since LeBeau took over the defense in 2004 the Steelers have never ranked lower than 12th in points allowed and 9th in yards allowed for a season. In fact the Steelers defense has been statistically first in either yards or points for six seasons. His zone blitz scheme out of a 3-4 base defense is something many teams have adopted and modified in an attempt to mimic the results of what LeBeau has been able to accomplish.
It seems that regardless of which players are on the roster LeBeau has found a way to be successful. In years where the pass rush hasn’t been as good the emphasis turned to coverage and tackling. In years where the pass rush was on point they simply teed off on teams.
However, at 75 years old do the Steelers need to be thinking forward about how to approach LeBeau’s eventual retirement? Philosophically, the question I keep asking myself is would the Steelers be better to promote from within, using a coach that knows that system and for the sake of continuity? Or should the Steelers reach out to someone more established within the league, but could bring a new system with them?
It’s a tough call, and not one I am prepared to make at this point. But it won’t shock me at all–especially if the Steelers struggle again like last season–that LeBeau doesn’t at least consider retirement at the end of the season.