Tag:Dick LeBeau
Posted on: January 26, 2011 7:08 pm
 

LeBeau says he'll only coach in Pittsburgh

Posted by Andy Benoit

A surprising Super Bowl storyline developing is the future of Steelers coordinator Dick LeBeau. His contract expires after the season and some believe he could leave Pittsburgh. D. LeBeau (US Presswire)

ESPN’s Chris Mortensen said on Wednesday that it is a 49.5 percent chance LeBeau returns and a 50.5 percent chance that he goes to Arizona. Ken Whisenhunt has been delaying his decision on the Cardinals’ new defensive coordinator (Billy Davis was fired earlier this month) because, presumably, he wants someone from the Steelers staff (Whisenhunt, of course, used to be a part of that staff).

If that’s still the plan, Whisenhunt will have to make a run at linebackers coach Keith Butler or secondary coach Ray Horton (two names that have been lobbed out there). According to Pro Football Talk, LeBeau told NFL Network on Wednesday that if he’s coaching in the NFL, he’ll be wearing black and gold. “With this defense, with this group of men, they’ll have to run me out of here,” LeBeau said.

LeBeau also said in an Alex Marvez FOX Sports article, "We're pretty busy still. That's a good thing. We're looking forward to getting things done this year and seeing if we can get a little better on defense next year."

Obviously, it behooves LeBeau to quell any distractions this week. But these are plainspoken words – hard to imagine he’s being anything less than honest.

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Category: NFL
Posted on: January 24, 2011 2:07 pm
Edited on: January 24, 2011 6:08 pm
 

Early look at Super Bowl XLV Packers vs. Steelers

Posted by Charley Casserly

It’d be hard to ask for a better matchup in Super Bowl XLV than the Green Bay Packers vs. the Pittsburgh Steelers. These are the hottest teams in their respective conferences. Both have big-name quarterbacks, playmakers on offense and a host of Pro Bowl caliber contributors in their well-coached 3-4 defenses. It’s no wonder the oddsmakers and pundits are forecasting a close game. Here is an early overview of the matchup.

Three "X" FactorsB. Roethlisberger (US Presswire)

1. Super Bowl experience

The Steelers, only two years removed from winning Super Bowl XLIII, have an edge in experience that will come in to play both on and off the field. Having been in four Super Bowls myself, here is how I see the edge manifesting itself:

There are a lot of off the field distractions the players and staff have to deal with. These include ticket requests, media requests, family and friends travel, etc. The coaches have to manage these distractions while determining how much of the game plan to install at home and how much to install after arriving in Dallas. Some teams like to put in the game plan before they get to the Super Bowl site in order to have it done before the majority of distractions set in. Others want to wait so as not to have the players get bored or stale the week of the game.

The Steelers and their staff have dealt with this conundrum before. The Packers, for the most part, have not.


2. The two weeks to prepare and rest

I think this could favor or hurt Green Bay – we won't know until the game. On the one hand Green Bay is on a roll. They have faced elimination in their last five outings. They survived and, thus, have momentum. The two-week break could disrupt that momentum.
 
On the other hand, the break may be just the thing they need to get recharged. If they had to play next week, they maybe would run out of gas.

 
3. Green Bay’s familiarity with defensive scheme

The Packers may have an edge over many, if not all, of the opponents that the Steelers have played this year. That edge? They play the same 3-4 defense as Pittsburgh. Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau worked together in Pittsburgh when LeBeau was the defensive backs coach when Capers was the defensive coordinator (1992-94). This will help Green Bay more than other teams that have had to prepare for Pittsburgh this season, as Green Bay will have had a better look in practice from their scout team in imitating Pittsburgh's defense.

 
Two key statistical categories that could come into play

 
1. Sacks per pass play

In terms of sacks per pass play, the Steelers offense ranks 30th in preventing sacks, while the Packers defense ranks third. On the other side of the ball, Green Bay's offense is 20th in sacks per pass play while Pittsburgh’s defense is sixth. Just watching film, it would seem Green Bay has the edge here. The statistics agree.
 
Both teams will have the opportunity to sack the opposing QB. I believe it comes down to which QB can avoid the pressure and still make a play. Conversely, which team when they get that free defender can bring the opposing QB down? Ben Roethlisberger is not only mobile, he is big and strong. He can throw with defenders draping off of him. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, is quicker a foot than Roethlisberger and can avoid defenders. 

 
2. Rushing

The Steelers run defense is ranked number one in the NFL. The Packers rushing offense is ranked 24th. This is a clear advantage for the Steelers. How will the Packers be able to run the ball? I believe their best chance will be to spread the Steelers out to make them defend the pass first, then come back with the run second. In other words, set up the run with the pass.

 
Three matchups of note (Green Bay offense vs. Pittsburgh defense)

 
1. Green Bay Wide Receivers vs. Pittsburgh CB's

The Packers have a decided edge here. The two things the Steelers must do to negate this edge is a.) jam the receivers off the line to disrupt their timing on their routes in their rhythm passing game and b.) do a good job tackling when Green Bay’s wideouts catch the ball. Greg Jennings, Donald Driver, James Jones and Jordy Nelson are all fantastic at running after the catch.

 
2. Green Bay's OT’s vs. Pittsburgh’s OLB’s

This is an edge for Pittsburgh. Most defenses only have one good pass-rusher. Pittsburgh has two in James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley. Green Bay has to either make sure they help their OT's in some way (likely with a RB chipping or a TE staying in to block). The Packers cannot let the Steeler OLB's go one on one against Chad Clifton, Bryan Bulaga, backup T.J. Lang or one of their backs.

 
3. Green Bay’s center Scott Wells vs. Pittsburgh’s NT Casey Hampton

This is an advantage for Pittsburgh in terms of size and strength. If the Packers can't find a way to control Hampton by helping Wells or devise a running scheme to take advantage of Hampton's tendency to over-pursue (such as having the RB cut back against the grain in the opposite direction of Hampton's initial movement), they will struggle to run the ball.

 
Three matchups of note (Green Bay defense vs. Pittsburgh offense)


1. Green Bay’s NT B.J. Raji vs. Pittsburgh’s C (Maurkice Pouncey or Doug Legursky)

Raji will have a decided edge over whoever Pittsburgh plays at OC (Pro Bowl rookie Maurkice Pouncey hopes to play on his bad ankle; third-year pro Doug Legursky is the backup). It is the same principle that Green Bay faces in running the ball against Casey Hampton: you need a plan to negate the edge that the opposing NT has over your C. B. Raji (US Presswire)

2. Green Bay’s nickel defense vs. Pittsburgh’s run offense

Green Bay will line up in their nickel defense on running downs and dare teams to run the ball. (Often times, they have just two defensive linemen in these packages.) If the Packers do this, the Steelers have to take advantage and run the ball effectively.

3. Green Bay’s OLB Clay Mathews vs. Pittsburgh OT's (LT Jonathan Scott, RT Flozell Adams)

Both OT's for Pittsburgh, Scott and Adams, are backup players. Mathews, like James Harrison, is one of the best pass-rushers in the NFL. Mathews has to win his matchups against the Steelers tackles. The Packers do a good job moving him around to get him into favorable matchups. Can the Steelers figure this out and find a way to block him? 
 

Beyond the statistics and matchups: two more things to watch  

1. Will Green Bay employ a strategy similar to New England's plan against the Steeler defense? The Patriots spread the Steeler defense out and had a lot of success passing the ball. I think that is the best plan to beat the Steeler defense – and I think the Packers have the ideal personnel to execute that plan.

 
2. Will the Steelers try to run the ball to the outside early in the game to make those big Packer defensive linemen run to the ball? The hope here is that doing so will make those D-linemen tire and wear down as the game goes along. Fatigued defensive linemen, of course, are less effective against both the run and pass later in the game.

 
Prediction
 
This is a very even game, but I give the edge to the Steelers because of the slight edge at QB and their greater big game experience. I think the difference in the game will be Roethlisberger making more plays against the pass-rush than Rodgers. 




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Posted on: January 23, 2011 4:28 pm
 

Report: Dick LeBeau a 'free agent' after 2010

Posted by Will Brinson

We hear all the time about players who are potential free agents. (Case in point: Peyton Manning, who doesn't have a contract for 2011 ... yet.) But what about the coaches? Case in point: Dick LeBeau, who's contract will reportedly expire following the 2010.

LeBeau, the Hall of Fame player (there's a distinction, and he's in for playing, but "not for coaching") who also happened to architect Pittsburgh's vaunted defense, will be a free agent after this season, according to ESPN.

There appear to be three possible outcomes from LeBeau hitting the market. One, he returns to the Steelers. Two, he retires. And three, he heads to Arizona.

The return to Pittsburgh is obvious, because he's had so much success there and the personnel in place is ideal for his system.

The retirement is a possibility because, as youthful as LeBeau still looks, he's 73.

And Arizona makes sense, because the Cardinals were terrible on defense in 2010, have former Steelers coaches Ken Wisenhunt and Russ Grimm on staff in the desert and don't currently have a defensive coordinator. (Also, old people go to the desert when they want to step away from work and play more golf, so that makes sense too.)

If LeBeau did jump to Arizona, he'd have his work cut out for him, but engineering a turnaround for that defense would be possible -- just not easy -- and would provide a pretty nice cherry on top of LeBeau's already superb career.

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Posted on: January 20, 2011 6:35 pm
 

Whisenhunt could be looking East for help

Pittsburgh LB coach Keith Butler could be pursued by Arizona (Getty). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

It looks like Cardinals coach Ken Whisenhunt is going after a few of the Steelers defensive assistant coaches in order to fill Arizona’s defensive coordinator spot.

As the Arizona Republic’s Kent Somers blogs today, Whisenhunt wants to talk to Pittsburgh LB coach Keith Butler for the position (the Cardinals already interviewed Greg Manusky but he took the Chargers job instead). Thing is, Whisenhunt has to wait until next week at the earliest to ask the Steelers for permission to talk to Butler, because Pittsburgh is still alive in the playoffs.

But here’s why Butler (pictured at right) might want to stay in Pittsburgh: he supposedly will take over the Steelers defensive coordinator role when Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau decides to retire (though that doesn’t appear to be happening in time for next season).

If Butler’s not interested in Whisenhunt's offer – or if Pittsburgh declines to let Arizona interview him – the Cardinals could go after Steelers secondary coach Ray Horton. As Somers writes, Horton “knows the LeBeau scheme as well as anyone.”

If that’s the case, perhaps the Cardinals should do what makes the most sense for them: ask for permission to speak to – and then hire – LeBeau himself.

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Posted on: November 16, 2010 4:45 pm
Edited on: November 16, 2010 4:55 pm
 

Top Ten With a Twist: Potential head coaches



Posted by Josh Katzowitz

With Wade Phillips getting the pink slip last week and with much discussion about the job security of Minnesota’s Brad Childress, it’s become obvious that it’s that time of the year when fans debate the merits of firing the coach of their favorite teams. That obviously equals bad times for coaches like Marvin Lewis, John Fox, Gary Kubiak, Norv Turner, Josh McDaniels and Mike Singletary.

Since Phillips is gone and Childress might as well be gone, let’s dive into the intriguing possibilities of who will be available – some long-time assistants who hunger for their first shot at a head coaching job, some former head coaches who wouldn’t mind getting back into the business and maybe a college coach or two who want to test himself at the pro level.

Many of the following likely will get interviews after the season when the current coaches who can’t work themselves off the hot seat clean out their offices. Until then, let’s speculate on who might be available.

10. Dick LeBeau: I know, I know. He’s probably not going anywhere, and his three-season stint as the Bengals coach wasn’t so good (12-33). But LeBeau has been such an innovator on defense, I’d like to see the Steelers defensive coordinator get another shot at running a team. It’s not going to happen, because he’s 73 years old, but there would be a ton of smiling faces around the league if he got another chance.

9. Rob Ryan: We need – I mean, we NEED – another Ryan brother as a head coach in the NFL. Aside from being the most entertaining coach out there today – publically, at least – Rex Ryan has done a wonderful job turning the Jets into Super Bowl contenders. Now, Rob Ryan, the Browns defensive coordinator, needs to get his chance. With the marked improvement in Cleveland, does Ryan deserve the shot? Probably not at this point. But how awesome would it be if somebody gave him a job?

8. Mike Zimmer:
He arguably performed his best coaching job of his career last year when, despite the death of his wife and of Bengals WR Chris Henry, the defensive coordinator led Cincinnati’s defense to the No. 4 ranking in the NFL. For as long as the Bengals have tried to improve their defense, Zimmer finally was the one to make it happen. Cincinnati’s defense ranks 15th this season, but his players respect him and his coaching style. At some point, you’d think a team will take a chance on him.

7. Jon Gruden/Bill Cowher: Yes, they’ve both got lucrative analyst deals with ESPN and CBS, respectively, and both seem to do a pretty nice job (although Gruden spends a little too much time being a little too positive on his Monday Night Football gig). It’s hard to tell if Cowher is serious about getting back into coaching, but it wouldn’t be hard to believe Gruden wanting to jump at the chance (those are the whispers you hear, at least). He just seems hard-wired for the long hours, and it wouldn’t be surprising at all if he were to return. For Cowher, it’d probably have to be the perfect job. And I’m not sure that kind of job will appear in the offseason.

6. Marty Mornhinweg: The 5-27 mark he recorded while coaching the Lions is pretty difficult to swallow. But one of the biggest achievements this season made by Mornhinweg – the Eagles offensive coordinator – has been the transformation of QB Michael Vick from a playmaker with brilliant talents to a complete quarterback that’s nearly unstoppable with his legs and his arm. The Eagles rank second in points scored and third in yards per game, and much of that is a credit to Mornhinweg.

5. Cam Cameron: It’s a testament to Cameron that the Ravens, previously known as a strong defense that couldn’t score points, are now known as a high-powered offense that has a more difficult time stopping opponents. Cameron has weapons (QB Joe Flacco, RB Ray Rice, a plethora of receivers), and he knows how to use them. It might not happen for a few more years, but Cameron deserves another chance (if a prospective owner can overlook the 1-15 season he had while running the Dolphins).

4. Perry Fewell: He had a taste of head coaching last season after the Bills fired Dick Jauron and made Fewell the interim. He led Buffalo to a 3-4 record – looking back on it, it was almost miraculous – but he and the rest of the coaching staff were fired anyway. Now, he’s the Giants defensive coordinator , and not surprisingly, they’re the No. 1 defense in the NFL in yards allowed.

3. John Fox:
He doesn’t have much longer in his current role, as the head coach in Carolina, and despite the team’s putridicity (?) this season, he remains a well-respected figure in the league. Why, you ask? Well, he led the Panthers to Super Bowl XXXVIII, two seasons after a George Seifert-led Panthers squad went 1-15. Overall, he’s 72-65 as the coach in Carolina, and you can be sure Fox will have a job somewhere in the NFL. And quite possibly as a head coach.

2. Jim Harbaugh: If the Stanford head coach still wants an NFL job, he will have an excellent shot to get one. The brother of Ravens head coach John Harbaugh, Jim – a 14-year NFL QB who made the Pro Bowl in 1995 – has done wonders in Palo Alto. The previous two coaches before Harbaugh went a combined 16-40, and in the past two seasons, the Cardinal has gone a combined 17-6. He already interviewed for the Jets job that Rex Ryan eventually won two years ago, and it seems like it’s only a matter of time before he beats out somebody else for a head coaching position.

1. Leslie Frazier: How long will it take before Frazier – perhaps the most respected assistant coach in the league - finally lands the head coaching position he so obviously wants? Well, considering his office is just down the hallway from Childress’, it would make sense for Minnesota to hire its current defensive coordinator when it fires Childress. For a defense that hadn’t been good in more than a decade before Frazier took over, he’s transformed the unit and made himself indispensible. No doubt about it, he should be a head coach.

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Posted on: November 13, 2010 1:47 pm
 

Helmet to helmet hits could be result of offenses

J. Harrison has been fined heavily for illegal helmet-to-helmet hits (US Presswire). Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Big congratulations must go to the Steelers this week. They weren’t fined once – not even one time! – for illegal hits. Considering James Harrison is still employed by the organization, that’s a pretty good accomplishment.

On a more serious note, S Troy Polamalu thinks he knows why the illegal helmet-to-helmet hits became such a big problem. He agrees with his defensive coordinator, Hall of Famer Dick LeBeau, that the coaching staff can continue to tweak the players’ techniques so there’s less of a chance of dangerous hits, but ultimately, Polamalu thinks they’re going to be nearly impossible to get rid of completely.

In part, it’s because many offenses are so wide open that defenders have to cover more area than ever before. That means there’s more momentum when a defender actually makes contact with an offensive player.

"The game has evolved in a sense that, of course, people are bigger and faster now, but it's also evolved in a sense that it's not eight guys in the box every down and two guys in the backfield," Polamalu told the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "When you start spreading teams out and you start getting space and distance – and you've got to get that burst to make that hit – that's why you're seeing a lot more hits than normal. It's because of the way offenses are playing."

The notion isn’t so ridiculous. LeBeau, after all, agrees.

Another good point from Polamalu here: "Back in the day, it was easier to make open-field tackles in the box. You could see what was coming, for the most part. But when you're running all these fast crossing routes and you're spreading people out, those hits you're seeing are pretty much from spread offenses: big shots down the field, crossing routes. … It's never a safety coming downhill (and) hitting a running back in the mouth."

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Posted on: August 10, 2010 11:30 am
 

LeBeau happy to be back at Steelers practice

Posted by Josh Katzowitz

Here’s a nice little interview with Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau after he returned to practice following his Hall of Fame induction on Sunday.

LeBeau has a very good reputation in the NFL as being a great dude, and that was pretty evident when the Steelers organization left training camp to travel to Canton to watch the induction ceremony. 

After practice Monday, he talked to the media, including the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review .

My favorite question and answer? This one.

Q: Who did you leave in charge while you were gone and how did they do?

A: “John Mitchell is the assistant head coach but each coach kind of shared their duties equally. I figured it would take three of them to do my job.”

Nice.

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Posted on: August 7, 2010 8:02 pm
 

LeBeau calls Canton bigger than meeting the Prez

Posted by Will Brinson

Dick LeBeau's speech for his induction into the NFL Hall of Fame in Canton was pretty spectacular (also awesome: the new introduction videos narrated by Steve Sabol -- more on that later). Mainly because he's incredibly funny and is a 72-year-old who looks like he's 49, which is pretty impressive.

At one point, he was discussing his opportunity to meet President Barack Obama and went into a pretty good yarn about how Obama eventually yelled out "Where's Dick LeBeau? Everyone knows him!"

LeBeau apparently jumped around, waving his hand and whatnot, because, obviously, he was pretty excited. He used that story as a platform to point out how thrilling his induction into the Hall of Fame truly feels.

"And with all due respect Mr. President," LeBeau said during his speech. "I think this thing is a little bigger."

That's probably an arguable point, depending on who you're talking to. At the same time, though, anyone who wins a Super Bowl (or hosts "The View") gets to meet the President.

You have to have a pretty incredible career within the NFL -- especially considering the silly rule that doesn't count time spent both as a player and coach, which in LeBeau's case has always hurt his candidacy -- to make it to Canton.

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The views expressed in this blog are solely those of the author and do not reflect the views of CBS Sports or CBSSports.com