In 2004, coach Dick LeBeau took over the Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense for the second time as the defensive coordinator. In that time, the Steelers finished top five defensively eight times and number one overall, five times. LeBeau has had a lot to do with the defense’s success over that span. The Steelers are now in their second consecutive season without a winning record. It seems age is always the easy answer when talking about the Steelers’ defense. However, LeBeau feels it’s neither the age of the defense age or his age when it comes to getting the defense back on track. LeBeau is 76 years old and hopes to return in 2014 with the black and gold.
“I’ve been blessed to be able to coach this long, and I want to coach, obviously. Because I am a coach,” LeBeau told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Again, we’ll have to see if people want you to coach.”
The problems with the Steelers’ defense could simply be depth. After losing linebacker and signal-caller Larry Foote in Week 1, the Steelers were forced to rely on rookie linebacker Vince Williams to fill in for the long-time veteran. The defense tried to place more depth in the inside, by making safety Troy Polamalu more of a linebacker in their defensive scheme. Without Polamalu’s presence in the back end of the defense, the deep ball has hurt the Steelers.
Change has struck the defense quite a bit in the last two seasons. Immeasurable leadership and talent walked out the door with Casey Hampton, James Harrison, Aaron Smith, James Farrior, and Chris Hoke. Replacing these men have not been easy, but as the season progressed in 2013, the emergence of Jason Worilds and Cameron Heyward were uplifting.
“This is the time only to think about our players and getting them better,” LeBeau said. “But I feel great. I feel strong, and we’ll see if people want you to come back.”
After 50-plus seasons in the National Football League, there is nothing LeBeau has not seen. He has led the Steel Curtain to success one season after the next. LeBeau’s 3-4 defensive scheme has spoken for itself in the last decade; the creator of the famous zone blitz should absolutely be brought back in 2014.