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Why Isn’t More Blame On LeBeau for the Awful Steelers Defense?

For the last two years, Steelers fans have nearly every Sunday gone out on a full scale mission to let it be known that they want the head of offensive coordinator Todd Haley on a stick.

Haley it seems can’t do anything right – even this season with the team putting up 26.6 points per game, fans still have the same hashtag on Twitter week after week – #FireHaley.

While all the hate for Haley is going on, there seems to be a free pass given to the coaches on the other side of the ball – the defense.

You know, that stellar Steelers D that has allowed 24.8 points per game, 4th worst in the AFC (trailing only the 2-10 Jaguars, Titans and 1-11 Raiders, who allowed 52 points Sunday to the Rams).

The same defense that allowed the inept Titans to score 24, 20 to the offensively awful Jets, and then 35 to a 4-7 Saints team that were 1-4 on the road entering Sunday.

Yet never a word seems to be spoken about the defensive coaching staff.

Why is that?

Don’t get me wrong, I think Dick LeBeau has been fantastic for the most part in his second tenure with the franchise, in 10 seasons with the club he’s lead the franchise to the best defense in the league on more than one occasion.

Now though at 77 years old and with a defense that looks more like Swiss cheese every week, maybe it’s time to finally start looking forward to a future without the Hall of Famer.

It’s a defense filled with high draft picks, and players that are making quite a bit of money to try and stop opposing offenses,
yet can’t seem to get the job done.

They gave CB Cortez Allen a huge deal right before the season, yet after letting T.Y. Hilton run all over him in the win over the Colts about a month ago, he’s had a hard time staying on the field.

Two key vets, Troy Polamalu and Ike Taylor, returned to the lineup Sunday, yet both looked old and slow in the loss to Drew Brees and the Saints.

Taylor especially had a rough day, allowing a killer 69-yard TD to Kenny Stills on a 3rd-and-10 play after the Steelers climbed within 8 at 21-13.

“When you play inconsistently, that’s what happens,” Taylor said after the loss.

“Starting with myself. Put it this way, [with] a future Hall of Famer quarterback like Drew Brees, man, you have to be on your P’s and Q’s. Like I was saying earlier during the week, he’s the captain of that team, and it showed today. If he sees something, he’s going to hit it. He doesn’t miss a lot.”

Missed tackles, big plays, and gaping holes for running back Mark Ingram set the tone for this latest loss, another setback that while the offense wasn’t good – the defense was downright awful.

This defense is maybe not as bad as the 1988 team that allowed 26.3 points per game (franchise record 421 points in a 16 game season), but it’s maybe the worst this team has run out in since that season.

Which again is inexcusable considering the amount of high picks and big-time money that is floating around the 11 guys and even a few that are on the bench.

The blame has to fall somewhere. If fans are going to scream and yell about Todd Haley and his offense week in and week out – isn’t it time to do the same about LeBeau?

If not – they why?

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.

3 Comments

3 Comments

  1. DrGeorge

    December 1, 2014 at 7:31 pm

    The Why Not is this, Matt: LeBeau can’t be blamed for management’s failure to restock the defense with adequate talent. Compare this year’s defense, position by position, with the Defense of Super Bowl 43, nearly six years ago. Not one position has been upgraded since 2009. And the 2009 defense was not as good as the defense in 2006.

    The point is obvious. LeBeau didn’t suddenly forget how to coach; the defensive talent has been slowly degrading over the past nine years as management diverted resources to the offense (presumably to placate Ben R.). LeBeau has been unfairly forced to “made do,” and he has done a remarkably good job of it, considering the talent he had.

    If you want to point fingers, go to the top. The misuse of budgetary resources is a management issue. The Steelers have simply spent too much money on talent that has failed to produce and now find themselves in a salary cap debacle of their own making. Tomlin and LeBeau didn’t do that. Management did it.

    To gain some perspective on the scope of the problem, ask yourself this: How many of our current starters on defense could find a starting job on any other NFL team that has a 8-4 record or better? My count stops with two players, Heyward and Timmons. That’s the pig’s ear LeBeau is being asked to turn into a silk purse. It ain’t gonna happen with the present talent, no matter who the defensive coordinator is. What this team needs is a wholesale rebalancing of the salary structure, and I doesn’t appear Steelers’ management has the wisdom or the cajones to do it.

    • DaveB.

      December 1, 2014 at 7:55 pm

      A perfect example of some very poor decision making is the drafting of former number one pick Ziggy Hood . This kid was brought in as the heir apparent to Aaron Smith . This kid turned out to be an average at best football player that is no longer on the team . Colbert , Tomlin and the scouts have set the defense back years just with one major screw up . Those mistakes are not easily fixed and the Steelers are paying for it today .

  2. Jay

    December 1, 2014 at 7:55 pm

    All they need to do is strike when the iron is hot and trade bb for some high round picks and a player of need. There is no way management should resign this guy. I don’t care what he’s done! What he’s currently doing is not carrying the team with a suck defense. That’s not elite in my book. Yeah I been on his side through the years but the jets game was the final red flag, Saints game final straw for this fan. For all his talents and stats and continual pining for accolades and weapons, he consistently never puts a string of games together and hasn’t throughout his career. The defense had always carried this phony. He simply is not good enough to carry a team with a poor defense aka Brady , manning, Rodgers, et all or whoever the hell else you want to throw in there! I feel like I’ve been in a bad relationship the past 11 years and have been too awe struck by my partner to realize that the partner really hasn’t been all as advertised. Now I see it, and it is enraging yeah but t fact is this guy just ain’t all that good when you look at him through the lens of an elite QB!

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