Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau has made it clear in a recent interview with 93.7 The Fan that his defense must force more turnovers in 2012, and he is confident that they will.
The Steelers defense finished last in the NFL in 2011 in defensive takeaways with 15, with 1 of those 15 coming via a fumble recovery on special teams. LeBeau, however, thinks it was an atypical year.
“Unquestionably the most disappointing thing was the turnovers,” said LeBeau, who reiterated what he said this past offseason during one of the OTA sessions. “We have to turn the ball over more than what we did last year and I\’m very confident we will. We have in the past and I just think that it was a very atypical year in that regard, and I\’m viewing it as that, but I\’m still stressing it with the team”
While not having outside linebackers James Harrison and LaMarr Woodley healthy last year very well could have played a large part in ranking last in 2011, LeBeau was not willing to use it as an excuse when given that opportunity.
“We definitely should have more turnovers no matter who\’s playing.”
LeBeau did state in the interview that he was proud that the 2011 defense was tops in the league in regard to points and yards allowed and that he was particular pleased with pass defense numbers. The 2012 version of the Steelers will certainly get a good test in those areas right out of the chute in week one as they take on the Denver Broncos and Peyton Manning.
LeBeau was asked when he will start preparing for Manning, who has a 2-1 record against the Steelers defensive coordinator since he returned to Pittsburgh.
“Will look at him in the regular preseason format for the opening game,” said LeBeau, who admitted what he does have some painful memories from facing Manning in the past. “I certainly don\’t need to look at him at Indianapolis, but I want to see if there\’s anything different that they\’re doing with him in Denver, which I doubt very seriously that they will be.”
“When you got a player like that you\’re not going to change too much. But we\’ll take a look at what they\’re doing with him and we know that its going to be a great challenge. He\’s a great player.”
If you think LeBeau is thinking about walking away from the game any time soon, he certainly gave no indication that he is ready to do just that and there is no goal right now in his mind when it comes to how many more years he wants to coach.
“I don\’t have a goal and I got a feeling that the powers that be will give me a hint when they think I\’m starting to pollute the water a little bit,” said the Hall of Famer. “I love being involved with the defense and with our players and as long as I have that feeling, and they act like they want me to coach them, I\’m more than willing to be here. I know all things come to an end, and nothing last forever, and I\’m comfortable with this, but right now I just focus on the next snap and try and correct where our guys are and get us ready for the season.”