Dick LeBeau Super Bowl XLV Media Day Interview Transcript


QUOTES FROM PITTSBURGH STEELERS MEDIA DAY

DEFENSIVE COORDINATOR DICK LeBEAU

(on if it says anything that his defensive philosophy has held in the NFL) “Well I don’t think that there is any one way to do it, but it does say that in the hands of the right players, that it’ll work. It definitely validates that the system will work. The players are what make it work.”

(on the genesis of the zone blitz) “Necessity is the mother of invention. The run and shoot was very much invoked. Houston had Warren Moon, who was practically unstoppable with the people that he had, throwing the ball all over the place. The West Coast Offense was very similar to the run and shoot in terms of a quick release of the ball. It spread out the defense and cut it up. The blitzes that were in place at that time, they had the answers to. We defenders had to come up with something a little bit different and this was the thought that I had. I’d like to say it worked immediately, but we went through a lot of blind alleys. We just kept sticking with it. I think, again, this was in the early 80s, so it was about 30-something years ago and so I think it’s going to be around for awhile.”

(on how he manages to disguise his defenses) “That’s easy. You just get Troy Polamalu in your backfield and he’ll move around and disguise anything you want to do. Usually it works when he’s doing it. The players make it come to life. We give them parameters and let them create and we’ve got some pretty good creators. Troy and James Harrison are two fairly good players.”

(on if he can still learn from his players) “I hope so. I hope that I still learn something every day. That’s what I come to work for and I hope that I can impart a little bit of knowledge to them. It’s give and take. The players are the ones that make it cook.”

(on Aaron Rodgers) “Rodgers is the kind of guy that you know is going to make some plays. I’ve used this analogy and I think it’s accurate. He’s like a very good scorer in basketball. You know he’s going to get points. From a defensive standpoint, you’ve got to keep him from controlling the game and monopolizing the game. That’s what we have to try and do with Rodgers. He’s a great player. He can create, improvise with his feet, go to his second and third choice in the route because he has such a quick release. He sees the field and you know he’s going to make plays. At the same time, you have to limit those plays and keep the game in touch where your guys have a chance to win it.”

(on if preparing for the Super Bowl is any different than any other game) “I think you have to approach it like any other game. There’s a little more excitement involved. In the final analysis, it’s still going to be a football game, but it’s going to be played on a field 100 yards long, 53 1/3 yards wide. It’s going to be 60 minutes and the team that scores the most points is going to be the winner.”

(on the Rooneys and the stability of the franchise) “I think that anybody that knows anything about the Steelers knows their history and its stability. The record speaks for itself. They had in their formative years really some lean years, but I think once they got it, they’ve been at the top ever since. I think that speaks certainly to the management and the structure of the franchise.”

(on how much longer he sees himself coaching) “Certainly through the next seven days. I’ve been going one year at a time for a few years now. I always say that in order to work, you have to have somebody that wants you to coach. I’ve been fortunate in that regard. I just go each year and see if they still want me to coach. I think I’ve got a good chance of having a job next year and so I intend to be here. I hope so.”

(on if he thinks the Steelers will bring him back) “I think I’ve got a chance to keep my job.”

(on the nickname ‘Papa Coach’ and who gave it to him) “I don’t really know, but I’ve told them several times that I’m honored because they could call me ‘Grand Papa Coach.’ I could be a lot of these guys’ grandfathers. They’re still cutting me down in years pretty good when they call me Dad.”

(on his relationship with Dom Capers) “Dom Capers and I are really good friends. We worked together and coached on Bill Cowher’s first staff. It was Dom’s first coordinating job. I had been a coordinator for about 10 years before that. We had a lot of ideas to share, really, in those three years before Dom got the head job in Carolina. He did such a great job down there. We’ve remained friends throughout. He’s not particularly a strong friend of mine this week.”

(on how he and Capers worked together to develop their defense) “We worked together a great deal on everything we did. Coach Cowher was involved in that. Coach Marvin Lewis, who has gone on to having a very successful coaching career, was there and had input as it is with any coaching staff. The coaches get together and they share views and hopefully the end product is competitive.”

(on if he thought Kevin Green would become a coach) “We had him in training camp a couple years ago and he did a wonderful job with our players, and I knew instantly that he would make a great, great coach. He coached like he played and that was involving everything that he had. It’s not surprise to me at all that he’s very successful.”

(on his and Mike Tomlin’s faith and working together with similar beliefs) “I can’t think of too many coaches that I’ve known or worked with that don’t have a strong religious background. It’s almost a necessity in this profession because the ups and downs are bound to come. Sometimes more downs than ups and you have to have something to stay the course. Religion is very much a foundation for all of us.”

(on if he has helped his offense prepare for Capers’ defense) “This is probably the only Super Bowl ever that the players from either team could jump in the defensive huddle and understand the terminology and probably run the defense. I’m sure the nomenclature is different but they could figure it out. Certainly if you gave them two days of practice, either team could run the other team’s defense. I think that will help our offenses in that we could give them a really good picture of what the other team is going to be doing. At the same time, they could do the same thing for them. I think it’s a wash. It’s going to come down to who does what on Sunday afternoon.”

(on what stands out about his time in Green Bay) “They have a very hostile climate up there. It’s great. It’s a great city. Good people—really good people. Honest, hard working people. A great town; it’s still a small town atmosphere and they support the team tremendously there. Really, the only negative about the whole city or franchise was the weather. For a golfer, you couldn’t play until August.”

(on what advice he would give someone building a defense) “Be yourself, first and foremost. Don’t try to be somebody else. Establish your own beliefs and your own philosophy and then set about getting the nuts and bolts to implement that. It’s a trial and error business. You reinforce strengths and throw out the stuff that doesn’t work. We all have plenty of those. Hardly any great words of inspiration, but I believe that’s the way to do it.”

(on how the 3-4 defense has evolved) “It’s pretty neat, really, the way it has evolved. At one time, there weren’t very many people doing it. Now you can’t look at any team in the league where somebody isn’t going to run some kind of zone blitz. So the more people we have working on it, the more innovations that they can add to it, I think the broader the spectrum of what you can do from it. It may or may not fit your personnel, but I see it expanding, not contracting. I see more and more people doing it. I think that’s kind of neat.

(on if it was fun to be the architect of a defensive scheme) “I think history has proven that we had some good ideas.”

(on who are some of the coaches around the league that have coached under him and have implemented parts of his defense) “Unfortunately, I’m in year 37 here, so there have been quite a few.”

(on why that is an "unfortunately") “Wouldn’t we all want to be a little bit younger? The only good thing about being old is that you have a lot of experience. I’m long on experience.”

(on what he remembers about playing against the Lombardi teams) “They were always very well coached. They were prepared. They were never going to beat themselves. You had to beat them. They were very good at what they did.”

(on Brett Keisel) “His last three years have been exceptional really. Brett is the kind of player that he just keeps getting better because he works so hard. The high side of the coaching profession is definitely to see young men come in, improve, improve, improve and like this year, he was recognized and chosen for the Pro Bowl. Those are the kind of stories that you carry around with you forever in the coaching profession.”

(on his thoughts regarding Keisel’s beard) “I really think he is a much more handsome man without it, but I kind of like the record we’ve got with it on there.”

(on if he sees Capers coaching another 10-15 years) “Yeah, if he wants to. Fortunately, I’ve been able to make that choice. I’m doing what I want to do. I would be doing something with football if it wasn’t working in the NFL so as long as they’ll have me. That’s why I’m still here. I’m also blessed with some great players but certainly Coach Capers has the capability of continuing to grow and being a productive member of any team that he’s a part of as long as he wants to do it.”

(on being elected to the Hall of Fame and going to a Super Bowl in the past year) “I don’t think you could write a better script. Its right out of Hollywood, only I’m getting to live it. I still pinch myself in the morning when I get up. Is this really happening? It’s been dreams coming true, not a dream coming true. It’s been plural. How fortunate can you be?”

(on if he’d like a Hall of Fame ring on one hand and a Super Bowl ring on another) “I still have plenty of fingers.”

(on what it meant to have the entire team there) “I don’t think I could because there is no way to express what that really meant to me, what an honor that was and how humbling that was. First of all, that Coach Tomlin would take a day from preparation for the National Football League season and that the Rooney management would allow the logistics to set up for the whole team to come over there and be there with me. I told the team that I surely didn’t want to be there without them. I was just so blessed to have them there. I couldn’t really look over there at them too much. I wanted to make it through the speech. It was a memory of a lifetime and surely something that I’ll never forget.”

(on what makes Troy Polamalu so special) “I think you can say that all the positives that you can mention from character to athletic ability and they are reflective in Troy. Probably beyond all of that are his instincts. He’s probably the most instinctive player I’ve ever had. He has the amazing capability of studying film and being able to instantly apply that in the game situation. A lot of guys can get down to tendencies, formation, motion, but when it comes to pulling the trigger, they do okay. Troy is exceptional. That’s why he makes so many big plays.”

(on if you can teach Polamalu’s instinctual ability) “I don’t think you can really teach what Troy does, but you certainly want a man like that on your team to lead by action. The way he does things, he has a strong sense of faith. He’s a greatl family man. He’s always a great team member first. He has the intangibles that you would definitely, definitely want on your football team and teaching your young people how you become successful. I’m not sure you would want him teaching some of those Troy moves because only Troy can do them.”

(on if he will definitively say whether he would coach anywhere other than Pittsburgh next year) “Yeah, I’m going to coach in Pittsburgh as long as they’ll have me. If they tell me they don’t want me, I might stay in football. I think I’ve got a job.”

(on the challenges of facing great offensive players) “Emmitt Smith, Marshall Faulk, (LaDanian) Tomlinson, any of those great backs are great offensive players. You have to go into the game knowing they are going to make some plays. It’s really not unlike Aaron Rodgers. You have to keep that particular star from dominating the game. That’s much easier said than done but as a defensive planner, that’s what you have to do. You have to know that he’s going to make plays. They’re going to have some moments. You have to have your moments and keep the game in balance where your guys can win it.”

(on the success of the zone blitz in the first few years) “I can’t speak for Dom (Capers), but I’ve always felt that the players make the defense go. We had wonderful players. We had Carnell Lake. We had Rod Woodson. We had Greg Lloyd. We had Kevin Greene. What we had were great players. I think we all were smart enough to realize that it wasn’t the X’s and O’s. It was just the way the players were executing them. Now we’ve got good players again, both of us, and they’re doing pretty good.”

(on what a defensive coordinator can do until they get those kinds of players) “I’ve had plenty of them. Sometimes, unfortunately, you run out of time. You know what you’re looking for and you try to give your players the best chance to be successful and try to build your roster depth until you have enough to apply the pressure that’s necessary to control these tremendous offenses. Sometimes you run out of time in that situation. You know, there is an old saying and it’s true, ‘there are two kinds of coaches: those who’ve been fired and those who will be in some point in time.’ I think that’s why none of us as coaches get too carried away with the X’s and O’s. We know that the players go out on the field and they are the ones that win the game. We try to help them and put them in the best position. Coaching is simply looking at the video and seeing what you can do to help your players and when you’re not winning enough games, you usually end up looking somewhere else.”

(on Green Bay’s current team and his thoughts from back when he played) “Green Bay is a great franchise and they were great then and of course, with Lombardi, in that era. When you are fortunate enough to get to the Super Bowl, you know you are going to be playing against a heck of a football team and a tremendous offense. You don’t really pay that much attention to who that offense is. You know it’s going to be a challenge. You just look at who they’ve got and try to control them as much as you can, but you know that they’re going to make plays. Green Bay has a great offense. They are very representative that offenses that make it to the Super Bowl. You know that’s going to happen.”

(on handling a mobile quarterback like Aaron Rodgers) “Well they have to be disciplined and they have to study him and try to acclimate themselves to his habits because he’s going to do certain things because they are ingrained in all of us. We want to make them familiar with that and keep him from getting out continually. You know he’s going to get out some, but we just try to educate them to what he’s going to do and try to defend what they do best.”

(on if the emotions and adrenaline make this game difficult) “Hopefully after that first series of downs or so, it will be football as they know it. It’s definitely going to be more emotional before starting out, but the team that can adjust and focus and play good, solid football, regardless of the atmosphere, will win the game probably.”

(on the discipline of the Packers four-wide sets) “I think that their strength is that they go four or five-wide receivers. Many times, when the tight end is in there, he’s split out like the fourth wide receiver. The routes are all the same with them. The one common denominator in all of it is the quarterback. They’ve got a great quarterback. I don’t think they are any more disciplined than any other outstanding offense, it’s just the quarterback can see them and get the ball to them and that’s what makes them unique. They do a great job with it.”

(on when you worry about age when looking at your defense) “I think the answer to that is obvious. All they have to do is look at the coordinator and look up there and say, ‘Man, I’ve got to be pretty young. Look at how old that guy is!’ We keep everything in an area of relativity. Chronological age and physiological age are two different things. These guys are young physiologically and they can play at a National Football League level. Nobody lasts forever, but I could look at the video last year and see that these guys have a lot of good football left in front of them. I think this year’s numbers have reflected that.”

(on how he would describe Troy Polamalu to someone who had never seen him play) “I think I would describe him as the epitome of a competitor who prepares mentally and physically. He has the demeanor of a warrior. All of the things that they write the books about, they are embodied in Troy. He was born to play professional football and he’s one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

(on what is the most important thing in disguising his defense up until the snap) “Any maneuver that you can implement that keeps the quarterback from a dead read on you, they’re so good. They don’t have to be as good as Aaron Rodgers is to be effective if they can read you. He, unfortunately, can effectively read after the snap. You just have got to keep those guys—at least level the playing field enough that they’ve got to gather their information after the snap or as close to the snap as you can keep it. If they know before, you don’t have much of a chance.”

(on if thinks too much is made of defensive schemes) “I think there is no question that there is too much made of it. It doesn’t matter. There’s no one way to do it. I think you can have a great defense with a 4-3, 3-4, 5-2. There are 11 guys out there and the fields are the same dimensions. You have to keep the other team from crossing the goal line. You have to get their punter on the field and put their punter to work. I do think, as a coach, philosophically, you have to sort out what you believe and that’s what you teach. I think you can be successful with any style of defense. It’s just what you believe and what you can impart on the players. The bottom line is always going to be who is playing for you and how good are they because they are the ones, in the final analysis, who are going to go out there and make your defense successful.”

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