The Steelers are going “old school” when it comes to tackling in practice, but it’s a whole new world for their defensive ends.
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau’s defense has long called on defensive ends to sacrifice personal glory for the greater good of the team, something that has worked out well as the ends occupy blockers and the outside linebackers swoop in to drop quarterbacks. That didn’t work out all that well last season and defensive end Brett Keisel explains that the Steelers will be trying something else out this year.
“We definitely need to get more pressure up front,” Keisel said, via the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “There’s been an emphasis more on getting on the edge rather than just pushing the pocket, getting on the edge and trying to make something happen.”
Other teams running the 3-4 have had success deploying their ends in this way and J.J. Watt had 20.5 sacks from the spot on his way to the Defensive Player of the Year Award last season. It is hard to imagine Keisel or any other Steelers end putting together that kind of season, but it’s not hard to understand why the team is shifting its philosophies.
With James Harrison gone, LaMarr Woodley coming off a subpar 2012 and the Jason Worilds/Jarvis Jones competition to be sorted out, the Steelers don’t have a ton of certainty when it comes to pass rush from their outside backers. LeBeau hasn’t lasted this long without being able to find new wrinkles when the old ways aren’t getting things done, although it will be some time before we know whether this move goes into his greatest hits file.