Dick LeBeau doesn’t think age is a problem for Steelers defense

Getty Images

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.

40 responses to “Dick LeBeau doesn’t think age is a problem for Steelers defense

  1. I realize some will think it sacrilegious to say this, but I think it is time for Coach LeBeau to give someone else a shot at being the defensive coordinator. We certainly need to bring in some new player blood, but also an infusion in the coaching department would be welcome.

  2. Long time Steeler fan here, but going to have to disagree with LeBeau. Ike, Troy, and Clark are still good, but aren’t causing a lot of turnovers for the team and most definitely are not worth what they are getting paid.

    Just like up front with guys like Jones and Heyward, its time to start the youth movement in the secondary. And that means letting go of some of the past glory and moving into the future.

  3. As a die hard Steeler fan it is hard to say and think but the fact is one of the biggest problems is Coach LeBeau, teams have figured out his schemes and are exposing it at an alarming rate these past few season’s, There are also several other problems, One being the age in the seconday and the fact they have a serious lack of talent on Defense. The only Defensive players that are playing at a high level are Heyward and Worilds who is will be a free agent at the end of the season. Woodley hasn’t done anything since his big payday except be injured and as painful as it is to say Troy has become a liability big time. The Steelers need 1 or 2 excellent drafts to get the defense back to where it use to be and as painful as it may be a new face as the Defensive Cord. as well.

  4. Arguably, Ryan is done, and Shamarko Thomas is there behind him. Hopefully Ryan has another year of mentoring and spot duty to help Shamarko play with Troy.

    Troy has been superman … again … doing his job plus the inside linebacker job once Foote was hurt in Game one.

    Ike is, well, he is a confusing player. Against the Lions (I was at that game 🙂 ) he was manhandled by Calvin Johnson in the second quarter and shut him down in the second half. Same type of thing against AJ Green. Can’t say it’s age (is he too old to shut down Calvin in the second half? he did).

    But then, maybe LeBeau is a foolish old man.

    I don’t think so. The article just said it, at his worst he is still in the top of the league.

  5. Age isn’t the issue. It’s just something the media and people who don’t now much like to say. With Keisel out, the entire front 7 is under 30. Ike, Troy, and Clark are the 30+ guys in the secondary. Ike and Troy are by no means slow, they just haven’t played very well. Clark does look old and slow on many plays. Troy overall has had a good year, but he’s being asked to do way too much. The fact is, the team can get rid of 2 more 30+ guys and ppl will still call them old. I don’t know why.

  6. Even if they go defense with every selection in the upcoming draft, history tells us that the majority of those players won’t be starters on opening day. The age of the secondary is certainly concerning, though. An infusion of youth through the draft and even through one or two key free agents is needed. With the front seven not getting the pressure that you’re used to with the Blitzburgh Steelers, the back end is starting to show they’ve lost a step.

  7. Polamalu actually surprised me this year with some of the plays he made but still is vulnerable in coverage . Clark went from a top 10 safety last year to ryan i cant tackle clark . Ike taylor either gets flagged or beat lol. Steelers are a franchise that has never really signed big named players in off season. Always built up teams from within. Dick lebeau main factor in making names for steeler defenders . With their salary cap problems it looks like their rebuilding is going to take a few years .

  8. More than likely Clark is finished after this year. Either Taylor moves to saftey, or he could be gone too. Troy will proabably take a pay cut and stay for one more year.

    With all the “Fire Haley” talk, the offense has played pretty well for the last month or so. I love what LeBeau has done here, but if one of the coordinators goes, it should probably be him.

    Hopefully the Steelers will bring in someone where defensive rookies can come in and contribute right away. This team, as it stands now, has too many holes to sit and wait on young players to learn the system.

  9. LeBeau is the greatest defensive mind the game has seen. He has absolutely revolutionized the way defense is played in the NFL. It has been an honor having him in Pittsburgh and hope he keeps doing what he loves for a long time.

  10. “I don’t believe the problems we’re experiencing there are age-related.’

    U kiddin me?

    Dick and 3/4’s of the defense need to get cut or re-structure…..

  11. Again … the foolish old man, in his worst year, is still in the top half of the leagues defences …. it ain’t top five, where he is used to being, but yet, 17 DCs are having a worse year than LeBeau.
    Washed Up my ….

  12. The only fair explanation I have for someone thinking Troy was anything less than extraordinary this year is that they did not watch much Steelers football this year.
    When Foote went down in Game One, two guys covered for the rookie filling in … Timmons and Polamalu. He was down on the run and the tight ends a lot this year. Commentators often called him a 210 lb LB in the schemes.
    Troy was Superman … Clark Kent’s pursuit of glory and Superman’s pursuit of the play.

  13. Don’t get me wrong, I would like nothing more than to see the Steelers Draft a legit first round corner. But I am guessing that a lot of other team’s fans feel pretty much the same way.

  14. I don’t think that age is the problem. I just think that there is so much money handed to the veterans on both sides of the ball that there isn’t enough left to spend on a supporting cast. The past few years I think there has been too much of a difference between the “stars” and the other players talent wise, leaving huge gaps. Every year cap space is an issue. It might be time to suck it up and officially rebuild.

  15. Your Keenan Lewis point is right on DiscountMescan. Not obvious who they should’ve cut to make the cap room, but he would have helped.

  16. Man, we Steeler fans are soooooo freaking spoiled. The Steelers rake in all kinds of accomplishments, and the nanosecond there’s some turbulence.

    Many wanted Cowher gone when his ride got bumpy. He later won a Super Bowl (and appeared in two).

    Many now want Tomlin gone, and he’s won a Super Bowl and appeared in two.

    The VAST majority wanted Arians out – and he, in part, led us to Super Bowl glory and appearances.

    And now, this myopic band of clowns wants LeBeau gone – and they give mind-numbingly idiotic reasons that make sense to them only.

    They “succeeded” with Arians. Nice work, morons.

  17. Their coach isn’t too old, Dad 🙂

    Won’t say I haven’t disagreed with him occasionally, but if there’s one individual on this team I trust to do what’s necessary to revamp his squad, it’s Dick LeBeau.

  18. coachjohnharbaugh says: Dec 13, 2013 10:10 AM

    i make turds smarter than dick lebeau


    I know people like to come on here and make jokes of his age and saying this and that. Coach Lebeau is an excellent coach and he deserves respect. He is truly one of the best Defensive Coord to even coach in this league and his record speaks for itself. Steelers Nation appreciates everything Coach Lebeau has accomplished for the organization. He truly cares about his players. He is a good man

  19. .
    If you were starting an NFL team and were given your choice of existing defenses, Pittsburgh would be one of the last options. Age, depth, skill level and cap considerations all work against the Steelers.

    I’d choose Tampa’s young aggressive D over Pittsburgh’s in a heartbeat. They have a lot more upside.



  20. This Steelers defense has been dominate for a long time. I cant say enough about Coach Lebeau. Great coach and a great man. They are a little down this year from age and injury and loss to free agency but give them a year or two and the dominance will be back.

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to leave a comment. Not a member? Register now!