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Monday, January 12, 2015

Steelers DC thoughts

Now that things have settled down a bit from the news that Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau would not be back in 2015, we can look a bit at this whole thing a little more clearly.

This is what I know. In the weeks leading up to the end of the season, the Steelers wanted LeBeau back and LeBeau wanted to continue coaching.

At some point, however, that changed.

It could have been a situation that happened while LeBeau was meeting with head coach Mike Tomlin. Both men could have had the intentions of staying together. But during the course of their conversation, that could have changed on the part of one or both.

It also could have been a change of heart on LeBeau's part. Once he figured out that Troy Polamalu, Ike Taylor, Brett Keisel and James Harrison would not be back in 2015, he figured it was also a good time for him to move on.

Either way, from what I hear, the changing of the guard was indeed amicable.

@ That leads us to Keith Butler.

Butler already met with Tomlin to discuss taking over the Steelers defense.

The Steelers linebackers coach has been with the team since 2003 and knows the defense inside and out.

I don't like the assumption, however, that he would simply do things exactly as LeBeau did. After all, has Ray Horton simply copycatted LeBeau?

Horton, unlike Butler, truly is a LeBeau disciple. He not only played for LeBeau, he coached under him in both Cincinnati and Pittsburgh.

But his defense is ultra-aggressive. It is similar to what LeBeau runs/ran, but with his own personal touches to it.

Butler, meanwhile, played at Seattle before turning to coaching. His only other pro experience is at Cleveland from 1999-2002. He joined the Steelers in 2003, a year before LeBeau returned as the DC.

Would he run a similar defense? Yes. Would it be exactly the same? Probably not.

@ If Butler moves up, Jerry Olsavsky would be the likely hire to coach linebackers.

Olsavsky, the team's defensive assistant, does a lot of in-practice work with the Steelers' inside linebackers already. He could assume the role of overseeing the whole group and continue to work with Joey Porter.

@ If you're looking for a name to replace Olsavsky, how about Deshea Townsend?

Townsend served as a defensive assistant under Horton in Arizona and spent this season coaching defensive backs at Mississippi State.

I'm told he has contacted the Steelers a number of times about returning as a coach.

@ If Butler is not hired immediately, it's not a sign he doesn't want the job or the Steelers don't want him.

If I were in Tomlin's shoes, even if Butler is my guy, I'd still want to talk to a couple of outside candidates to see what they think about my defensive personnel and scheme.

I would use this as a good guide to perhaps gauge outside interest in some of my potential free agents, Jason Worilds, in particular.

@ Arizona has already spoken with LeBeau about joining its staff and that would seem to be the most likely landing spot.

The Cardinals could lose defensive coordinator Todd Bowles and LeBeau, even if he weren't the coordinator, could serve in an advisory role much like the one Tom Moore serves in with their offense.


Anonymous said...

I love how you mention Townsend as a replacement and Wexell mentions Chris Hoke. Shows not only they're very good candidates, but you guys hold them very dearly :)

on that note, any chance Hines ever comes back as a WR coach?? Richard Mann is kind of old already and only replaced Montgomery two seasons ago

Dale Lolley said...

No on Ward. He's making too much money on TV

Danno Curfman said...

Here are my thoughts on them NOT hiring Butler. You blocked the guy from interviewing with other teams several times under the assumption he would be the heir apparent. It would be a d**k move not to promote him after they took away his opportunity with other teams.

Like Deshea Townsend or even J Peezy. Not sure what I think about Hoke as a coach.

Dale Lolley said...

I think you bring Hoke in as a coach if you feel like John Mitchell isn't going to be around much longer - which certainly could be the case. I wouldn't be opposed to bringing them both in.

The Steelers have far fewer assistant coaches than every other team in the league.

I remember when I was looking at Jacksonville, the Jags had something above 20. It worked out to something close to a coach for every two players.

Easley said...

When I am 78, I think I will rather be in sunny Arizona, too. Actually, I'd like to be there now.

adamg said...

I recall Casey Hampton saying something to the effect that he always counted on Hoke to know the details because Hoke was a much more serious film student than Big Snack.

I also recall Deshea Townsend being described as essentially a coach on the field.

I think one or both would be good hires as they can also provide continuity of the Steeler way on defense.

Anonymous said...

Yeah I've heard that Jacksonville and Washington have tons of coaches...doens't seem to help.

Mark said...

Do you think the Steelers will change their philosophy, and get more assistant coaches? Considering they need more of their young talent to develop quicker, I would think more personal attention (from more assistants) would help.

Dale Lolley said...

They have been adding extra assistants here and there. Porter's position this season was a created position.

They added an assistant offensive line coach, etc. as needed.

Anonymous said...

and Butler it is...

Anonymous said...

now with a correct linkage

marc said...

good for butler, he waited a while to get the opportunity. hope he makes the most of it.

regarding the OLB situation, I'm thinking the steelers are perfectly comfortable tagging worilds again if he doesn't sign their deal. moats or another FA will be signed for depth and I look for them to draft one as well.

emac2 said...

I'm guessing Lebeau and Tomlin disagreed on specific players though it could easily be Lebeau not wanting old guys to guy and Tomlin wanting change.

I think Tomlin and BUtler will work really well together. Tomlin has been head coach for a long time to just now be getting his own hires at both OC and DC.