Dick LeBeau has run the defense for the Steelers for a long time and he’s never had a unit as leaky as the one that he’s running this season.
The Steelers rank 13th in yards allowed and 15th in points allowed, both of which would be the lowest rankings in those areas of the LeBeau era. It’s been a popular opinion that the primary reason for the change in fortunes has been the advancing age of many key Steelers defenders, but LeBeau is not putting himself in that camp. He doesn’t think they’re too old and he doesn’t think the team needs to make major alterations to the unit.
“I don’t believe the problems we’re experiencing there are age-related. I really don’t,” LeBeau said, via Scott Brown of ESPN.com. “I definitely don’t think the defense needs rebuilding. Maybe their coach is getting a little old. I think the players can still get it done. I do.”
LeBeau’s loyalty to players who have brought him so much success is laudable and understandable, but the facts support the need for change. They have three starters in the secondary who are 32 or older, which has contributed to 11 plays of 50 yards or more by opposing offenses, and there needs to be new blood pumped into that unit no matter how much Troy Polamalu, Ryan Clark and Ike Taylor have meant to the team.
Whether or not that represents rebuilding likely comes down to semantics because the Steelers can’t stand pat and expect anything but more of the same in 2014.