Art Rooney II Says People Who Think Dick LeBeau Has Forgotten How To Coach Are Funny

There still has been no definite word as to whether or not Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau will be back in 2014, but during a Thursday morning interview on DVE Radio, team president Art Rooney II said he believes that he will and doesn’t think that the 76 year-old defensive mastermind has lost his touch, even though his unit had problems stopping the run and big plays this past season.

“As far as I’m concerned, it’s really a question of does Dick want to continue to coach or not and I know Mike’s [Tomlin] having those conversations, but it’s not a performance issue,” said Rooney of LeBeau. “Dick LeBeau may go down as the greatest defensive coordinator that the league has ever seen and I don’t think the issues that we had this year were something where all of a sudden he forgot how to coach. It’s funny how people come to those conclusions sometime.

“I really think that there’s some personnel issues we need to address on defense and I think we’ll be able to do that. And as I say, I think that Dick and Mike are going to be having their conversations over the next week or two about really does coach LeBeau want to come back for another year and I’m kind of expecting that he will. But again, that’s a conversation that’s working its way through.”

At the end of the season, LeBeau gave no signs that he was ready to leave the NFL to play more golf and unless Tomlin thinks he needs to move on from him, I fully expect he’ll be back to finish out the transition from old to young on the defensive side of the football.

  • srdan

    I would love to be the fly on the wall for those conversations.

  • treeher

    Dick ain’t going out after the team’s 2013 record.

  • Jollyrob68

    I think Dick will retire when Troy does. He wants one more shot at the SuperBowl.

  • RJ

    He can come back as long as he gets rid of the 10-15 yard cushions on the wide receivers. Drives me insane.

  • blackandgoldBullion

    LeBeau has been a godsend for the Steelers! The offense was insufficient to win those 2 Super Bowls and get to another one. There were some games in past where I recall the Steelers defense outscored the Steelers offense! Seriously! The defense carried them most of the time and they will get there again.

    My hope is that he stays until the right pieces of the puzzle have been found and they have at least 1 dominant year for the new defense. Then if he wants to leave to work on his golf game, I would tip my hat and say thanks for everything. Without you the Steelers would still be stuck on 4 Super Bowl wins.

    I remember an interview with him and I get the feeling he may stay for a long time yet. We shall see.

  • dkoy85

    Oh ok. Glad you cleared that up. He’ll probably get rid of the cushion now so he is allowed to come back. Thank God though, I thought you weren’t going to allow him to come back at all.

  • george

    I know. We could be going against a WR with a broke foot and a cane and he still gets a 10 yard cushion 🙂

  • RJ

    I’m sort of like the Rasputin of the Steelers organization. Nobody makes a move without my message boards and forum rantings.

  • Jason

    I certainly don’t think he forgot how to coach but perhaps was unable to adjust his system to cover up some of the shortcomings on this particular defense. With the complete disappearing act by Ryan Clark and a lack of production from the OLB, minus Worilds, you could see how his system would suffer. If anyone deserves a mulligan for this season I guess it’s him.

  • CrazyTerry

    LeBeau is certainly one of the best DCs in NFL history. Having said that, he is not God. He has been outwitted by Belicheck more often than not. He has not adjusted well to the cap age rosters. When just one man Troy P went down to injury the year after the SB, the team D just fell apart. And that was squared on the defensive coaches for failing to adjust to Troy’s loss. You still had a plenty of defensive stars on that unit.
    Also, other teams will eventually catch up to a great system. To Lebeau’s credit, I did notice he was trying some different things on D this year, but there were still some miscalculations. The slow development of young players is a problem. Also, I gotta admit I always found it interesting to watch defenses where the defensive line has some playmakers too. We need to see some pressure up the middle and more batted passes to combat the quick throwing guys like Brady.

  • Callentown

    Personal preference would be to have LeBeau stay on but allow Butler to take over as DC. Together, I believe they can fix what’s broken but it also feels a bit like teams have figured out LeBeau’s style (see Cheatriots games). I would welcome some new approaches on D.

    Either way, he has been one of the big reasons this team was a success the past 10 years. Thanks Dick!

  • HopalongCassidy

    Basically, this is not Tomlin’s decision to make. The Rooneys support LeBeau and it will be their decision whether or not he retires. Tomlin can’t force him out and if you all remember, when Tomlin was hired, he was told that LeBeau stays as part of his hiring. I take Art Rooneys statement to mean that if LeBeau chooses to come back in 2014, it is his job, period, end of story !

  • Kevin artis

    I think Lebeau is awesome. But I do believe today’s NFL has caught up with his system. When you let Pryor, Lockett-Hassellbach, Tannehill, Cassell have successful outings, something needs to be changed.

  • Gabriel Naimaister

    I don’t think the issue is that Dick LeBeau forgot how to coach or that he’s too old. I believe the issue is that the system that LeBeau uses takes too long to learn. Based on his history it usually take an average of 3 years before a new player can master it and make significant contributions to the defense. Look how long it’s taken K. Lewis, J. Worilds and C. Heyward to get going. Prior to this year many considered Worilds a bust and Heyward a disappointment who couldn’t win a starting job. The major defensive free agent acquistions for the Steelers in recent years have been player, B. McFadden, L. Foote and W. Gay who were with the Steelers before and already knew the system. The issue is would the Steelers be better off with a coordinator whose system is easier to learn.

  • Luke Shabro

    I was thinking the same thing. Especially on receivers that are not deep threats. WTF?!

  • Chris Maxwell

    When the team spend the most money on defense along with drafting for defense and making defense it top priority is easy for any coach to look good in the Bng. And DL have done that, but let’s not kid ourselves the Steelers have had a top ranked defense before DL and if they make it top priority again they will after he leaves. But when you start making below average QBs look like Marino, I think it’s time to call it quits. The league have caught up to his scheme.

  • John A Stewart

    I don’t understand two year’s ago we beat the Pat’s the db’s press the wr’s and threw off Brady’s timing. This year we didn’t even jam their receiver’s Elderman and Amandola really.

  • Dutchess Hershberger

    totally agree, we shoved ike taylor down we welkers throat, and played press on the outside, its the only time ever that lebaeu beat Brady, and then we go in to new England this year and you would have thought lebaeu forgot all about his previous strategy,
    that one dumfounded me as well

  • SumnerYoung

    I don’t think it’s Lebeau. I agree with Rooney about the defensive personnel issues. It might not be fair, but let’s compare the Steelers current defense vs. their defense of last decade. Here’s the grading system: Great = 10, Very Good = 9, Good = 8, Average = 7, Below Average = 6.

    2013 D (Total Score = 107 /// Total Score Divided by # of players = 107/14 = 7.64)

    Heyward = 9 / McClendon = 8 / Hood = 7 / Keisel = 7.5 / J.Jones = 6 / Timmons = 8.5 / V.Williams = 7 / Worilds = 8.5 / Woodley = 7 / Taylor = 7.5 / Clark = 7 / Polamalu = 9 / Gay = 8 / C.Allen = 7

    2000’s D: (Total Score = 139 /// Total Score Divided by # of players = 139/16 = 8.69 !!!)

    Keisel = 8 / Hampton = 10 / A.Smith = 10 / J.Harrison = 10 / J.Porter = 9.5 / Timmons = 8 / Farrior = 9 / Foote = 8.5 / Haggans = 7 / Woodley = 9.5 / Taylor = 9 / Hope = 8 / R.Clark = 8.5 / Polamalu = 10 / McFadden = 7 / Gay = 7

  • StarSpangledSteeler

    Very fair point Terry. When you look back at the games we’ve lost to Brady (specifically) but also Manning and Brees, LeBeau refuses to adjust his scheme. I believe his quote was something like, “When Brady is on, he’s going to beat us no matter what we do.”

    I say bullshit. We have beaten Brady a couple of different times, and in each of those instances we played press man, physically knocked his receivers off their routes, and hit Brady multiple times so that he started seeing ghosts.

    Sure it helps to have a healthy Woodley and Harrison bearing down from both sides. But no matter who is on the field, you have to ATTACK Brady to beat him. You can’t just sit back in a zone and hope he makes a mistake. He’s not going to beat himself.

  • RMSteeler

    Yep. Lake knows better. Does he have no leverage anymore. Press came in with Lake and for some reason, was a rarely used option. He hasn’t forgot how to coach. He may have not been able to adjust to the new style Offesive personnel the past couple of years.

  • RMSteeler

    “rarely used this year”

  • Brendon Glad

    He hasnt forgotten anything but how to beg management for DB’s who intercept passes well. Which is ironic.
    Other than that he still seems like one of the best in-game adjustors in the biz. I love having him with the steelers.

  • Steve

    The problem was no pass rush from the OLB. When you rattle Brady his timing gets off and it shuts them down.

  • Steve

    Our DB’s are too slow to stay with their WR and TE’s.

  • Steve

    If you ask any of the players on the Steelers about LeBeau they will all say they want him back. I’ll bet a few of them would not say that for Tomlin.

  • cencalsteeler

    If I recall correctly, LeBeau thought the Pats would scheme for that, so they went in the direction we witnessed. Possible he might have overthought that one.

  • Douglas Andrews

    Coach Lebeau should be allowed to return. This Defense needs a few more playmakers and well see the real Steelers D

  • CrazyTerry

    One of the most baseless statements made here. I don’t think Tomlin is such a great coach and think he is overrated. Still, he has always been cited as one of the coaches players wanted to play for in polls.

  • CrazyTerry

    I feel Lebeau’ sbest games as a coordinator against the big QBs were the game against NE 2 years ago and the Indy playoff victory. THen we had a couple of those Ravens games from the SB 43 years era.

  • 2443scott

    it was the dbs that were the weak link in def not lebeau he will be back as long as he wants to coach time to move troy where he finished season and taylor wants to move to but the cap and age and his hands are the prob with him clarks lost more than one step so i look heavy at dbs in free agent markets and draft in 2014


    and that we started the game with Willie Gay on Gronk. Mismatch?