The Seahawks venture into Blitzburgh on Sunday for the Steelers’ home opener. But it could just as easily be called LeBeauburgh, because of the impact coordinator Dick LeBeau has had on the team – and the game.
It goes by Blitzburgh, proudly and appropriately.
But the Steelers’ rabid, towel-waving fans in Pittsburgh just as easily could claim to be residents of LeBeauburgh when they pack Heinz Field on Sunday for the team’s home opener against the Seahawks.
It is, after all, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau who put the Blitz in Blitzburgh – and a Steelers defense that has ranked first or second in the NFL in sacks the past four season, including a league-high 48 last season and 53 in 2007.
“He’s an amazing coach. He’s had an amazing career and impact,” Seahawks coach Pete Carroll said of LeBeau, a Hall of Fame cornerback for the Detroit Lions before he devised the zone blitz that has changed the way defense is played in the NFL and, of course, the way offenses play because of it.
“He has a reputation that’s styled after the way he’s taught the game of football and affected other coaches. He’s left a lasting mark on the game.”
And much of that can be traced to LeBeau’s defenders leaving a lasting mark on the opposing quarterback.
“The Blitzburgh packages, they’re specifically designed to put stress on certain parts of offenses,” said Seahawks cornerback Roy Lewis, who played the Steelers in 2008. “There’s a lot of mixing and matching, but the objective is to get to that quarterback.”
LeBeau’s scheme features overloading the defense to one side. Then it becomes a guessing game for the offense as it who’s rushing and who’s dropping into coverage – as opposed to the send-an-entire-side-of-the-field style of blitzing the late Jim Johnson used while defensive coordinator of the Philadelphia Eagles.
LeBeau, 74, is in his second stint with the Steelers. He was their defensive coordinator in 1995-96, when Blitzburgh was populated by linebackers Kevin Greene, Greg Lloyd and Chad Brown, cornerback Rod Woodson and safety Carnell Lake – all Pro Bowl selections; or “Hawaii guys,” as LeBeau refers to them. His second stint began in 2004. The names of the players have changed, but the results have been the same thanks to defensive tackle Casey Hampton, safety Troy Polamalu, linebackers James Harrison, James Farrior, Joey Porter and LaMarr Woodley and defensive ends Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel – this generation of LeBeau’s “Hawaii guys.”
So, is the secret to the success of the Steelers’ defense LeBeau’s scheme, or the players who are operating in it?
via Puttin’ on the blitz.