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Dick LeBeau Wants To Coach Next Season


If defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is not back with the Pittsburgh Steelers next season, it will be because they don’t want him back as the 76 year-old Hall of Famer made it known on Thursday that he has no plans to retire.

“I’ve been blessed to be able to coach this long, and I want to coach, obviously. Because I am a coach,” said LeBeau, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “Again, we’ll have to see if people want you to coach.”

To say that the Steelers defensive severely underperformed this season would be an understatement and it has been mostly a result of their failure to not give up the big play, stop the long run and tackle consistently. Those are three things that LeBeau has always stressed that his defense needs to do over the years in order to be successful.

As far as stopping the run goes, the Steelers defense has allowed an average of 4.33 yards per carry heading into their Sunday night game against the Cincinnati Bengals. That high average is the result of six running plays of 23 or more yards that gained a total 334 yards. Remove those six plays and the average drops all the way down to 3.46, which would be good for second best in the league heading into Week 15. However, if you cherry pick stats from one team, you have to pick them for all teams.

We have talked all season about the big passing plays allowed by the Steelers defense and in the loss this past Sunday to the Miami Dolphins they allowed their 12th one of 40 yards or more.

As far as sacking the opponent’s quarterback goes, that too has hit a new low for a LeBeau led defense as the sack per pass attempt ratio currently sits at 6.07% for the season. In case you are curious, that ranks them 26th in the league in that stat.

However, when asked Thursday if he thinks his defense needs rebuilding when it comes to stopping the big play, LeBeau stated that he doesn’t believe that to be the case.

“We’ve had some games that there haven’t been any big plays in. In the past when we’ve led, it was almost every game,” said LeBeau. “The biggest malady that we have experienced this year is significant, big yardage plays, which we have to eliminate. I definitely don’t think that the defense needs rebuilding. Maybe their coach is getting a little old [Smiles]. I think the players can still get it done. I do.”

If LeBeau is not back next season, the Steelers more than likely would turn the defense over to linebackers coach Keith Butler, who has been considered by many to be the defensive coordinator in waiting for several years now. With the transformation from older to younger players on the defensive side of the ball likely to be 99% completed during the upcoming offseason, team president Art Rooney II will have to decide if the old to young transformation will also include a switch from LeBeau to Butler.

As for LeBeau, he’s only focused on these final three games.

“This is the time only to think about our players and getting them better,” LeBeau said Thursday. “But I feel great. I feel strong, and we’ll see if people want you to come back.”

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About Dave Bryan

I am, I'm me. 40 something, retired and a life long Steelers fan.
  • Jason

    I certainly don’t think Lebeau is responsible for all the struggles of this defense as he certainly doesn’t have the necessary parts to run his defense effectively. However, people torch Haley for every mistake on offense despite this patchwork O-line and very few playmakers on offense. Maybe people feel Lebeau has earned the benefit of the doubt, which is fair, but the double standard is clear. Tough to call for Haley’s head when the D has cost us just as many games. Hopefully whatever they decide to do they don’t botch it like Arians “retirement”.

  • Jollyrob68

    Time to move on.

  • Jollyrob68

    Time to move on, Time for a fresh perspective with Butler or someone new. Time for Dick to go in the FO

  • 20Stoney

    I don’t think there is anything wrong with LeBeau’s schemes. I do think there is a lot wrong with the guys that are trying to run them. At some point he is going to have to retire, and since most of his long time players are gone or going, now might be the best time.

  • SumnerYoung

    I am of the camp that thinks Lebeau has earned the right to at least have a shot to right the ship. I think he should be the DC for next season definitely. If the team is bad again next year, I think every coach, including Lebeau and Tomlin, will be on the hot seat, and some, if not all, will be handed their walking papers. That being said, I didn’t have high expectations for this year (7-9, I thought) and I don’t for next year either.

  • Chris Maxwell

    Please retire, I’m tired of watching this stale defense.

  • steeltown

    Love Lebeau

    I don’t think its his shortcomings that are hurting this Team, he’s pretty old but he’s not the one out there covering and tackling. As we all know some older players like Clark and Taylor and some younger players like Jarvis Jones and Vince Williams have had some major miscues this year. The younginz should only get better and the vet’s.. well, its almost their time to hang em up

  • Jason

    I completely agree with your point about the players not holding up their end. I’m curious if you have the same view of the offense i.e poor line play, dropped passes etc or if you blame Haley.

  • NW86

    Coach LeBeau is one of the greatest DC’s ever, and I don’t blame him for the struggles this year. That said though, I do think it’s time for the Steelers to move on – mainly because it has to happen soon anyway (he’s not going to be coaching when he’s 80!). So why not do it this year, when the defense is in transition anyway, Butler is still here and ready to take over at DC, and several new players will be coming in to join the new faces from this year.

  • RJ

    I think it maybe time to move into a different direction. Feels treasonous to say it, but its not just this year that has been the problem. Even though statistically he has had a top defense truth be told sacks and turnovers have been an issue over the past couple of years. Plus the long development of Worilds and Heyward, not to mention Keenan Lewis. I don’t specifically blame him, I think its just time for some new blood for the defense. Plus I’d hate to risk losing Butler to another team. He isn’t going to wait for his chance forever.

  • steeltown

    I don’t necessarily blame Haley for anything, I don’t like taking away Ben being Ben, but I understand in his 30’s he needs to stop playing backyard ball on EVERY down. There were some big drops this season by Sanders and company, Miller was recovering from major injury and of course the OLine is in shambles again, but in the end, Cotchery had a career year, as did A.Brown and Ben will get over 4,000yds passing and his completion percentage is the best its been in a 3-4 years.

    That said, I was really frustrated with the offenses slow start to year, especially the first two games

  • Shannon Stephenson

    I believe he is capable and can turn the defense around. They have done it this year in short spells. Not sure who to blame but it has to start with the coaches. Maybe a change is needed to someone who is more aggressive towards the younger guys but I would have no problem if LeBeau was kept for another year. Hate to see a HOF coach go out like this.

  • Chris

    Even if Lebeau is let go and Butler takes over they will basically still have the same defense in place. Sure, Butler will have his style so to speak, but he’s been with the steelers for years teaching and implementing Lebeau’s system. So to think that their will be a major change under Butler is inacurate.

  • Jason

    I think it’s obvious that the offense improved when the line started to gel. Along with the drops Ben has had some bad overthrows on deep balls that if connected makes this O look way more explosive. You seem to feel the same way as me about Haley. I don’t blame him but won’t go crazy if they replace him.

  • JB

    I agree – Butler will essentially be coaching the same D. I say, if Butler is indeed the coach in waiting, why not start giving him added input and responsibility? Name him Assistant D Coordinator or something similar – the title doesn’t matter, just give him more input in the D gameplan and calling the games, etc. They named Grimm Assistant head coach several years ago – why not a similar idea here?

  • JAMESH

    Our 2014 draft will be weighted heavily towards the Defense, with hopefully 3 or 4 rookies who will eventually be solid contributors. If only for one year, and for the continuity of tradition, allow them to say later in their careers “I played for Dick LeBeau.”

  • Jason

    I don’t have any problem with Lebeau returning since as some have mentioned Butler’s scheme will likely be similar. I just think he has maybe shown an inability to adjust his scheme to cover some of the warts on this defense. You just don’t see Lebeau’s defenses getting torched by some of the pedestrian Qb’s like they have this season. I’ll give him a slight pass for this year since we’re starting 2 rookie Lb’s who had much different expectations but have had simliar inconsisent performance, Ike and Clark seeming like shells of their former selves, Troy only playing in flashes and having no true NT on the roster. Thoughts on Haley?

  • Anthony Renzelli

    I agree. They’re not a good enough team to have a winning record, it’s that simple. Right now, Steelers fans just need to hope they can put enough of a team around Ben to make 1 more run before he hangs em up. The secondary is old and slow and the front 7 does not provide enough of a pass rush. Since they will likely lose Worilds, Jones must improve, Woodley must stay healthy, and Heyward must continue to ascend. Draft some young, physical DB’s and keep only Troy of the aging veteran db’s. Offensively, they need luck to keep the line intact, a true Left tackle, and at least 1 more weapon for Ben.

  • JAMESH

    As much as I had wished anyone else would be the ILB other than Larry Foote, LeBeau’s defense suffered greatly this year without him.

  • JAMESH

    I think the Haley experiment should continue at least one more year.

  • Mike Carroll

    The Steelers should and will retain Haley next year. The offense turned the corner by midseason and has become a good unit. They will be even better next year when a healthy offensive line should gel much earlier in the season.

    LeBeau probably will be gone however. That’s not an indictment of his coaching this year. But given his age and the massive turnover to a new defense that should be mostly completed next year, it makes sense to start over with a new coach who will be around to grow with the new group.

  • Jason

    Couldn’t agree more on both. I thought Williams might be an upgrade from Foote but evidently not and I’m in on Haley for another year.

  • Jason

    But since he’s on record saying he wants to coach you’d essentially have to fire him. Don’t know if they’ll do that.

  • Mike Carroll

    LeBeau is one of those guys who will coach forever if possible and I love him for it. It’d be harder to fire LeBeau if someone else were going to hire him. But, that is not going to happen. If the Steelers make the player personnel decisions I would expect and hope for on defense, then I think they make the switch at DC as well.

  • Todd Brown

    The defensive problems are personnel related. Dick Lebeau is a great coach no doubt.. but he can only do so much with an aging group and the loss of playmakers. Even with a good draft this year, I can’t see any coach taking this bunch and turning them into a top 5 defense next year. If Lebeau wants to stay, let him stay. It just doesn’t matter that much. Can’t polish a turd.

  • Jefferson_St_Joe

    There are likely to be some significant changes to the personnel on the defense. We know some combination of Hood, Kiesel, Polamalu, Foote, Clark, Woodley, Worilds, and Taylor are going to be gone. If I’m Tomlin and Colbert, I have to look at all the options for who the best person is to build the defense around what will be left. I’d give LeBeau an opportunity to convince me he is the guy to do it. Given how long it has taken to work new people in to the defense in the past, it might be a tough sell.

  • Mike Carroll

    Apart from a big WR and/or TE, I’d be happy using the rest of the draft on defense.

  • Bob

    As much as the rule changes of late have hurt defensive players, the CBA
    hurt PHYSICAL defenses. The hardest thing to do in the game is to
    successfully defend another player, but now they can only have the 10
    contact practices/year. I know, “all the teams play by the same
    rules.” But you can’t say the changes effected all the units the same.
    Pittsburgh/Bal. were defenses that RARELY missed tackles because they
    could (and did) practice it. Now they can’t and it shows in big plays
    given up BECAUSE of broken tackles.

  • Reg Sayhitodabadguy Hunt

    My thoughts exactly i wish lebeau can stick around just to coach up some top three rd talent hopefully we use 1of3 for a shut down corner

  • SumnerYoung

    I agree with most everything you’ve said. However, I think they can find a way to keep Worilds. Can everything else you mention be fixed in one offseason? Doubtful. But nevertheless, a lot of help will be needed from the 2014 draft class, and it will be one of the most critical Steelers drafts in a long time.

  • Patrick Reid

    Mr Carroll, I do think a TE would answer our big WR need. I’ve long said that if we don’t get Nix at NT with our 1st. We should go Ebron or Jenkins as big targets that stretch the field. I still think that Heath has some left in the tank. A two TE set with another weapon would be so advantageous for matching up. That said I still think that Haley and Lebeau need to be brought back. I also believe that Fitchner and Butler are the coaches in waiting respectively.

  • Eric Crook

    I love LeBeau’s defense and always have and truth be sais I really don’t want to see him go out this way. I do not believe the game has passed him by, but think his scheme may need a little tweaking and hopefully some younger, more explosive players…time to blow that Secondary up, tho I’d keep Cortez and Troy no matter what everyone says. Gay had a good year, so he could prob stay in the mix….gotta draft a stud Tackle, Corner, or Safety, with our possible top 10 pick

  • Eric Crook

    I don’t think Haley’s offense is horrible, but it doesn’t fit our team style of play….the offense seems more explosive when Ben is calling plays in the no-huddle or changing plays at the line, and once again his extension of plays is what creates big gains…the dink and dunk just not our style…..gotta love what AB and Le’Veon have done this year, Cotch too….Sanders is as good as gone…no big loss

  • Eric Crook

    Vince Williams was looking good this season…give the dude some more time….Timmons and Williams should be solid duo in the middle next year

  • DrakePirate

    TE, and OG .. rest can go to Def

  • DrakePirate

    Hallelujah … been wanting the 2 TE set for years now, I agree Heath has prob 3 yrs left in the tank and picking up Ebron or Amaro or I’d even be happy with a big WR like Benjamin from FSU …

  • DrakePirate

    While I agree that keeping Worilds would be nice, I wouldnt pay anything other than avg money for him … remember it was only a couple months ago that ppl thought his career was nearly over … so paying top $$$ for a few game stretch would be way over the top

  • Jazz

    The Steelers need a natural NT!! That is the main problem with the defense. Teams are running the ball right up the middle, that use 2b unheard of in Pittsburgh. I like McClendon, but he isn’t a natural 3-4 NT, period. Yes, another WR would be nice, but I think NT, Safety/CB has to be the way to go with the first two picks. We pretty much already know Sanders is gone, that’s why I don’t understand why they don’t give the kid more reps. Antonio Brown, Cotchery in the slot with Wheaton on the other side, that should work. They still have Justin Brown and Derrrick Moye, both tall WR’s. Defense wins Championships! Clark, Troy and Ike? Time to go; Woodley? Take a pay cut or see ya! And don’t let the door know hit you in the A$$ on the way out. Imagine this, a pure NT in the middle, McClendon and Cameron Heyward at both ends?

  • Chris

    I agree a lot of the problems are personnel related, but I would expect Lebeau to be the first to recognize this and not keep calling the same personnel/plays. For example, since Taylor, Polomalu & Clark have lost a step, why are they still playing so much single high safety and man to man on the outside? I would rather give up some ground yardage and make a team march down the field than to keep giving up so many big pass plays. Lebeau is resonsible for this

  • Ahmad

    I just hope that if and when the Steelers decide to send him off they will do it in a nice and respectful. If it’s anything like the way they sent off Arians, I will be pissed.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    It’s not the scheme, it’s the players and execution. You don’t fire a guy like Lebeau after one bad year in 10.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    This is a very understated point. The tackling we’ve seen has really regressed since the new rules kicked in.

  • http://pittsburghsportsinat.blogspot.com/ bgsteelfan

    I am of the same mind. Haley has his faults, but he isn’t the primary problem with the offense this season.

  • SumnerYoung

    Yeah, it’s hard to argue with that. It’s a gamble either way. Worilds could sign a big $ deal with the Steelers, and proceed to suck it up. Or the Steelers could lose him to another 3-4 team (Ravens, Browns perhaps?) and he could be a star player. It’s a tough call, but he’s only 25. I think his best football is ahead of him.

  • Chad H

    Maybe Spence. Who knows.

  • Chad H

    The slow start is on Tomlin. Training camp did not prepare this team at all. With that said the team improved and offense is scoring. The defense hit the age wall and can’t win us games any more. I’m fine now with all coaches coming back and maybe with some key draft picks we will be back in it next year.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Agreed the offense has made huge strides this year. A lot can be attributed to BB staying healthy and upright over the last few games or so.

  • Douglas Andrews

    I want Dick Lebeau back next year. With this group of rookies plus an aging secondary it’s hard to gauge his success although failures were many many many. I guess the real question is will Coach Butler return next year as the LB’s coach?

  • Jason

    Granted Williams’ development has been slowed because we play so little base 3-4 right now but he obviously has big limitations in coverage. In a perfect world Spence will show no ill effects from his injury and be the player we all hoped but I see ILB as a need in FA or early in the draft.

  • Jason

    Guard? I think Foster is very capable and DeCastro is becoming the player we hoped. T maybe but not G IMO

  • Jason

    Well said. All of it.

  • DrakePirate

    Ya OG, we hit a HR with DeCastro, but Foster is avg … we need to get this line beefed up, OG in draft and LT in FA … let gilbert and adams fight it out for RT … once and for all we would have a great OL WITH DEPTH … now can anyone really say they would argue with that !!!

  • Bob

    Get Yankey, from Stanford, as a G and give the Phins a conditional low rounder next year for the rights to Martin. If Decastro says their standup guys that he would pick as part of a winning lineup. Meh, could do worse than 3 stud OL in the middle, and maybe a steal on a tackle that needs meds or something.

  • 2443scott

    if they keep lebeau like i feel they should who ever they draft on def in 2014 they be lucky if one those guys will be a starter ….he always said it takes a few years for players to learn his system if thats the case the guys he has now will have to be kept ..but they lost a step here and there and they will be another year older again come seasons begining …i like the experiment with troy if they keep him there for another 2 years and he learns that spot a full year i think the steelers can hold on to him for 2 years ….taylor lost a step he has to be to far off players to keep up and if he makes a mistake he cant recover fast enough and we all know his hands will never help him ….clark i feel has lost 2 steps and his tackleing has suffered to ….these 3 guys cant cover like they used to …i under stand some the miss tackles and i know why i believe its because they changed how they attack guys or be fined so they arm tackle more or just shove guys hopeing the go down or out of bounce …so lebeau has to change up his coverages over the off season to help the db`s and safetys with in his system or change it ….on to next season i guess to see who stays who goes

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Just Lebeau’s annual end of season, begging rant, “please let me come back, I want everyone to know that if I don’t come back it was not my idea. “, his act is getting old but it gives the media a chance to print all kiss, kiss, hug, hug stories about our hall of famer. Then the Rooney’s look bad like they did in the arians fiasco , retirement announcement.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    probably be more like I went 2-14 for lebeau.

  • DrakePirate

    I agree his best football is ahead of him, and i wish we would have locked him up to a modest contract before this breakout season … looks like another one bites the dust ..

    The Steelers method of taking a long time to groom the players and then not signing them before breakout seasons is not doing us any favors … they need to adjust this philosophy one way or the other.

  • Richard Edlin

    If Lebeau is happy with the defensive personnel, then I think the chances of him staying next year have taken a hit.

  • Jason

    I guess I should have asked how high you think a G needs to be drafted. Foster certainly isn’t an all pro but I think we have much more pressing needs early in the draft. O line depth is certainly an issue. Bottom line I guess is we have way too many needs for 1 draft to cover.

  • DrakePirate

    a 2nd RD top tier OG would do the trick .. what more pressing needs do you see ( if our line improves so does our Running Game and Passing Game and prolongs Ben’s career … i don’t see anything more pressing than that.)

    I agree we cant do it all in one draft, but if done correctly i think we can get it done in 2 drafts with a couple choice Free Agents, below are the needs I personally see

    Offense

    TE – Amaro or Ebron
    OG – Yankey or other top Guard
    LT – FA – Pick up
    KR/RB specialist – 6th rounder (De’Anthony Thomas Mold)

    That takes care of the entire Offense for the future. Next years draft can emphasize the defense completely , including any draft picks in the 3rd, 4th, 5th and other late picks this year.

    Defense – needs

    DL – another impact player on the line
    CB – another top CB plus nickle back
    S – a top safety like Eric Reid
    LB – possible a ILB/OLB depending on how things work out

    Punter in 6th/7th round compensatory pick and the rebuilding is complete … if done correctly this can easily be done this yr and next, but like you said we cant do it all in the draft, we have to pick up a couple Free agents and to do that we will have to start trimming the Fat and shedding the Cap numbers sooner rather than later

  • Jason

    Needs this year bigger than G to me would be- Tackle- Depending on how you feel about Beachum NT for sure ILB- I truly don’t think Williams is the answer CB- Ike is toast and even if you think Allen and Gay can start we need to get younger there.Safety- Thomas is in place but who in the other spot?? I agree with your need for a TE though maybe not in rd 1 but I think this draft needs to be defense early and often.

  • bonairsfavoriteson

    Every one wants to dump on Haley but the truth is , his offense is playing a lot better than lebeaus defense, and remember, our no huddle comes out of the play book, and don’t forget our super bowl against the cards, Haley made the adjustments that tore our defense a new one in the second half of that game, if not for ben, as the gunner used to say ,m ” kiss that game goodbye”.

  • Anthony Renzelli

    I don’t think it can all be fixed in one offseason, but I do think Roethlisberger has been nothing short of brilliant the past two years. IF they fix enough and find a way to get into the tournament in 2014 or 2015, you never know what could happen

  • OIF3gunner

    I personally want him to stay but wouldn’t be mad if coach Butler took over.

  • Steve

    LeBeau has had his time. What a remarkable career. With all the young talent coming in, it’s time for a younger coach to take the reigns. Butler deserves the opportunity but if the Rooneys do decide to go in another direction, wouldn’t be surprised they go outside of the organization.

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