There has been a lot of speculation as to whether or not Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will return next year for what would be his 10th consecutive season with the team. On Thursday the 75-year-old defensive guru let it be known that he has every intention of returning in 2013 as long as head coach Mike Tomlin wants him back.
\'\'Let\'s just say I really like Pittsburgh and I really like working for the Steelers,\'\' LeBeau said on Thursday. \'\'Coach Tomlin will tell you if he wants me back or not. It will be up to Mike.\'\'
The Steelers defense got off to a rough start this season without the services of outside linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu for several games but will likely end the season ranked first or second overall in several statistical categories.
\'\'The truth of the matter is we didn\'t get off to a really good start on defense this year,\'\' LeBeau said. \'\'I don\'t think it was ever quite as bad as it was perceived to be, but we weren\'t playing the way we wanted to play. For, I\'d say over a month and a half now, our third down numbers have been good. We got a little behind early in all phases, but these guys stayed together and played pretty doggone good defense and got us back to where we like to be, up near the top of the bunch.\'\'
The unit, however, lacked greatly in the turnover and sack categories for a second season in a row and this is something that the architect of the zone blitz must fix next season. He will likely have to go about doing that with a few new starters in addition as there is likely to be some turnover on his side of the ball that could include the loss of Harrison, inside linebacker Larry Foote, nose tackle Casey Hampton and cornerback Keenan Lewis. Foote, Hampton and Lewis are all free agents, while Harrison could wind up being a salary cap causality.
LeBeau loves the game and his players and shows no signs of slowing down. 2013 would be his 55th consecutive season in the NFL and he surely would love to win one more championship for the city of Pittsburgh before calling it quits.
At one point during his talk with the media on Thursday LeBeau was asked a second time if he thought that he would be back next season and the coach politely answered, \'\'I love Pittsburgh.\'\'