NFL teams go through a lot of turnover over the course of a three-year period and the Steelers are no exception, but an influx of new players and coaches over that span can’t erase Dick LeBeau’s imprint on the team.
LeBeau ran the defense for more than a decade before leaving after the 2014 season and joining the Titans coaching staff. The Steelers and Titans will meet on Thursday night for the first time since parting ways, something that defensive end Cameron Heyward, who played for LeBeau for four years, says will be “weird” because of how much LeBeau’s influence is still felt in Pittsburgh.
“If you spend one, two, three or four years with him, I like to think you grew up with him,” Heyward said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. “I think a lot of our characteristics are Dick LeBeau-driven. … Our goals and stuff are still Coach LeBeau’s and the way he wanted it because our coaches were under him. I think his imprint is a lasting imprint.”
Steelers coach Mike Tomlin sees that imprint on the Titans as well. He called their defense a “quintessential” LeBeau unit when it comes to stopping the run, forcing takeaways and making the right adjustments to offenses on a weekly basis. Those things used to benefit the Steelers, but Tomlin will have to counter them for the first time on Thursday night.