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Tuesday, January 13, 2015

Steelers hire Butler

As expected, the Steelers have hired Keith Butler as their defensive coordinator, one day after he met with head coach Mike Tomlin.

Butler, who had coached the Steelers' linebackers since 2003, said he if happy to accept a "once-in-a-lifetime" opportunity.

"This is a dream come true for me, and it would be for a lot of people," Butler told

Butler said his philosophy wouldn't differ greatly from that of former coordinator Dick LeBeau, with whom he had worked since 2004.

But that doesn't necessarily mean their defenses will function exactly the same - although that's not a bad thing. LeBeau's defenses ranked in the top 10 11 times in his 13 seasons as the Steelers defensive coordinator, including No. 1 five times.

"I would consider myself a whatever-it-takes-to-win guy," Butler said. "If it's a 3-4, that's fine, if that fits your players. I think you have to be able to fit your defense around the players you have. With what offenses are doing nowadays in the National Football League, they're playing a lot of three wide receivers and a tight end and a running back, for the most part. In those situations, we're going to be in kind of a 4-3 anyway, but we're still going to run the 3-4 also. It gives you a bit more versatility, I think."

To Butler's point, when the Steelers have been in their base defense, it has been a 3-4. But when they go to their nickel defense, it includes two defensive linemen - typically the defensive ends moving inside - and the outside linebackers serving as rush ends.

That's why it's always made me laugh when fans talk about the Steelers switching to a 4-3 defense. They already are about 50 to 60 percent of the time!


Greg Mercer said...

I see your point about the Steelers already playing a lot of 4-3. But there's a big difference between rushing the passer with Jarvis Jones vs. Mario Williams

Tim said...

There's a big difference between running a 4-3 and what the Steelers do in nickel. Jason Worilds and Jarvis Jones and Arthur Moats are not 4-3 defensive ends. They are linebackers.

You could have made that argument when it was Woodley and Harrison in their primes, but not now. It takes different personnel.

A base 4-3 is something you can stay in and hope to stop the run. Our run defense takes a real hit in nickel, because we don't have a real defensive line in the game.

Dale Lolley said...

Worilds and Moats were defensive ends in college.

They don't have any defensive linemen on the field in the nickel? Heyward and Tuitt would argue otherwise.

marc said...

Completely agree with both posters here. You aren't running a 4-3 when the ends are LBers.

Anonymous said...

Maybe we need to explain ... when we talk about a 4-3, we're referring to 4 DL on the field, lined up opposite to, and engaged in hand to hand combat with, the opposing OL.

And no, OLBs lining up at DE doesn't fit the bill.

Dale Lolley said...

Every time somebody mentions the possibility of the Steelers running a 4-3, they say, "We could just put (insert outside linebacker's name here) at defensive end.

Again, Worilds and Moats were both defensive ends in college, as were Harrison and Woodley and Porter and Gildon, etc.

The only guy the Steelers have taken in recent years who was actually an outside linebacker in college was Jarvis Jones. The rest were guys who lined up with their hand in the dirt every play.

Tim said...

Does Dale not know what a 4-3 is? It means 4 defensive linemen and 3 linebackers, not 2 defensive linemen and 4 linebackers.

Guys don't really change positions when you line them up somewhere new, Dale. They might be trying, but unless they are independently good enough to man that position (Carnell Lake playing CB), they are just a guy doing his best in the wrong spot. I have and idea, why don't we line Brad Wing up out there across from the center and call him a nose tackle? That could save us a hat on game days!

Dale, sometimes guys play one position in college, and then another in the NFL, because they can't play that same position in the NFL (because it won't work!). I'll explain further: I don't think Arthur Moats would make a good 4-3 defensive end. But you almost swayed me there, with that, "He did it in college." I certainly can't think of any major differences between Joe Thomas and whoever Towson's or Maine's best offensive lineman were in 2008.

And try some reading comprehension. I didn't say Heyward and Tuitt aren't defensive linemen. I didn't say there aren't "any defensive linemen on the field in the nickel." I said a 2-4-5 (that's the type of nickel we run) doesn't have a "real defensive line." That's because 2 of the 4 guys on it aren't defensive linemen. They're linebackers.

And like I said, if you have a 25 year old Woodley and a 29 year old Harrison, that's different, because they were kind of freaky enough to do both. But they aren't here, and Jarvis, Worilds, and Moats aren't like that.

DO we need to explain the difference between a 3-4 OLB and a 4-3 DE, and why they're not interchangeable? They overlap sometimes, but they're not interchangeable.

drinkyourmilkshake said...

I can't even with you people. If you REALLY actually think Dale doesn't understand basic football concepts better than you why in the world would you spend time and energy reading and commenting on his blog?

Tim said...

I don't know how to say this part without sounding like a jerk, so here goes: I've never thought he understands them better than me, or any educated fan that follows closely. Yeah, most fans don't know squat, but a lot are very, very informed. But I would have said Dale understands the basic football concepts at least somewhat.

So I'm confused too, because he certainly should know some basic football concepts. But he's got the original post + 2 comments that say otherwise. Am I supposed to assume he's right and I'm wrong, no matter how little sense he makes, because he has a blog? How many silly things would it take for you to think, "Gee, maybe this guy really is wrong"?

kyle said...


I'm going to sound like a jerk so here goes: remember when you said Alex Smith is good? Are you counting yourself among the "educated fans"?

Anonymous said...

"Again, Worilds and Moats were both defensive ends in college, as were Harrison and Woodley and Porter and Gildon, etc."

They were converted to OLB because they couldn't hold up as defensive ends in the NFL. They were/are tweeners. Other than Mathis and Freeney, how many full-time 4-3 ends can you name at 6'1" 250lbs? There's a reason for that.

Anonymous said...

There is a world of difference between what the Steelers do and running a real 43 defense. Our OLBer's can line up at the end position but they won't excell there.

Kinda like Dri Archer lining up at RB. He may line up where a RB would and they may call plays like he's a running back but he really isn't one and it shows on the field.

Zeke R said...

Do you think we'll bring back Justin Brown? I don't see where Lance can help us that much going forward, I actually liked what I saw from DHB on special teams and he came down with a few clutch catches.
As far as the secondary goes, I think the more those guys practice against stud receivers the better off they'll be.

Tim said...

Jeez Kyle, give it a rest. I already responded to that one last time. I think there the topic was, "James Harrison will not be a savior - he will not have as large an impact as Brett Keisel, because James won't play as much, doesn't play special teams, and doesn't have the fire inside him anymore." I said Dale was full of condescending hogwash, and you defended him by pointing out that Alex Smith had thrown 3 interceptions so far on the year.

And what the hell? You're throwing, "This clown actually calls Alex Smith 'good'" at me like it's some outrageous claim. Or like it's even wrong. He is good. I never said he was amazing. He's good, and has been for a number of years.

Would you like to change the topic some more, to one Dale might have a leg to stand on? It's as good a strategy as any.

All these "debates" you and I have, me complaining about Dale, and you defending him, and you've never even really backed Dale's case, probably because you're not completely blind. You just don't like that I call him on his BS. Sure it's his blog and he has the right to say what he wants, but my opinion is that he should write better, smarter, truer, and nicer things. He also has a comment section, so I'm going to point out when he's being a dodo.

Plus, most of the time I don't jump on him for just saying something stupid; it's usually a combination of stupidity and arrogance or condescension. I'm not the only one that can strike an aggressive tone. This particular one started with, "It's always made me laugh when I hear fans talk about..." and then he goes on to be the ignorant one, seemingly not knowing the difference between a defensive end and a linebacker lined up where a defensive end goes. He likes to "take jabs" at fans (of the Steelers, and his own!) that he knows more than them, when half the time he doesn't know what he's talking about in the first place. That's an annoying combination for me.

Tim said...

I like the Dri Archer comparison. He's an unusual cat, with his size and speed, so I might go with someone a little more typical, like Mewelde Moore. A great third down back, and the guy you want in there for certain situations, but do you want him in there doing his thing every play? You wouldn't get the results you want. Better to use him selectively.

Likewise, if you line up a guy like Moats or Jones at DE all the time, you are NOT going to get the results you want. They'll probably get run over in the running game. In a 3-4 there are basically 5 guys on the line (the DL and 2 OLBs). The OLBs have a 300 pound teammate lined up directly opposite the OT, close by. In a 4-3 there are 4 guys on the line, and the nearest teammate would be inside the tackle, closer to the guard. It's just a different position.

Rick said...

While you are all piling on Dale, you may want to go back and read what he wrote. Coach Butler said they play 4-3 regularly, not Dale. Dale reported it and quoted Butler. Yeah, Dale editorialized it, but he quoted one of 32 people in the entire world who can can say they are a NFL Defensive Coordinator. Whose opinion carries more weight, some message board coach, or a man who is actually a coach?

Maybe you feel better about yourself when you call out a local sportswriter. But the reality is you are a jerk who apparently has nothing better to do.

Anonymous said...

And Keith Butler doesn't understand basic football concepts and Tim should be our new DC.

Robert BNR said...

Spot on Rick. Tomlin, Lebeau, Butler have all stated that we play a 4-3, some of you guys need to stop talking.

marc said...

by personnel, it's a 2-4-5. that is indisputable. if the 2 OLBers getting down in the dirt could play like DE's, then go ahead and call it a 4-3 if you want. problem is, our OLBers can't play like DE's. if anyone wants to say the dispute is over semantics, then so be it. but by no means do the steelers put 4 legit down lineman on the field when they are in the nickel.

rvaccare said...

^^^^ True Story Rick! ^^^^ It never ceases to amaze me how many people think they know the technical aspects of the game better than professional football coaches. These are generally people who are living in their parents' basement and don't really get out in the world. They also kick their cat for meowing.

Dale Lolley said...

Plenty of 4-3 teams line up with 250 to 260-pound ends.
As stated, Dwight Freeney and Mathis. How about Dumervil? He was a defensive end in Denver. I could go on and on, but I don't know anything about football, apparently.

marc said...

don't count me in on that. I never said you didn't. but, I do come down on the other side of the debate.

yes, there are freaks of nature who can play both OLB and DE. there aren't any of those on the steelers right now.

Anonymous said...

Steelers play a 4-3, but they dang sure dont play a good 4-3 with Worilds and Jones as ends. It's part of the problem, not the solution.

Tim said...

It's like Marc says.

Of course Keith Butler knows his stuff. To start with, he didn't say, "We already run a 4-3 50-60% of the time." Dale said that. Keith called it a "kind of" a 4-3.

Personally, I thought Keith's answer about our plans for the upcoming season was kind of wishy-washy, which is totally fine. 1) A wishy-washy answer along the lines of, "Oh, sure, we'll do it all" probably has a lot of truth to it, and 2) The public shouldn't know exactly what to expect, and 3) He probably won't be sure himself what kind of ratio it will be until deeper into the offseason, and even then it might change. Why get specific?

Even if I was flat out calling Butler wrong, that doesn't mean I think I know more than him, even on that specific subject. Coaches say wrong stuff ALL the time, especially in interviews. It doesn't make them stupid. In most cases they are just controlling the quote, or BS-ing, or something like that. Haven't you ever heard a coach or player say something you know to be untrue? Hell, look at the Steelers depth chart. It's riddled with mistakes, and has been for as long as I've had access to it. Does that mean I know more about the depth chart than Tomlin? No, it means Tomlin (or whoever puts that out) is BS-ing for whatever reason he has. Dale, on the other hand, is regurgitating Keith's quote without comprehension, and mocking fans along the way. Is it really so hard to believe he misunderstood and misreported? He did that again in the comment section:

Me: "Our run defense takes a real hit in nickel, because we don't have a real defensive line in the game."

Dale: "They don't have any defensive linemen on the field in the nickel? Heyward and Tuitt would argue otherwise."

Um, I know. I didn't say that.

This can be solved by anyone who can count to 11. If you want to say the likes of Jarvis Jones and Arthur Moats (if we re-sign him) can play 4-3 DE full-time, that's one thing. I disagree. If you want to label them as DEs just when we're in nickel, that's one thing. After all, they are playing the DE position for those snaps, and that's a lot of snaps. Let's call it 50%, just for a round number.

But you guys are labeling those 50% as 4-3 snaps, based on the fact our OLBs are playing the role of DEs. Okay, so those 2 OLBs are DEs. Who are the three linebackers? The two inside guys and...? It's either a 2-4-5 or a 4-2-5, not a 4-3.

Sometimes you have a guy like Troy lining up in a LB area, but that's different. The whole reason we are in nickel in the first place is because the offense has three or more receivers. That 5th DB is not playing LB, he's playing DB. That's why he's in there. Even if he was playing an honest LB spot, like Troy has done in the past, you can't say that's the same thing as a true 4-3.

No duh Keith Butler knows more than all of us about this. But no amount of specifics, details, and decades of inside football knowledge like Keith Butler has changes the following: 4 DL, 3 LB, and 4 DB playing their natural positions is NOT the same as 2 DL, 4 LB, and 5 DB, with 3 guys playing out of position. It's just not. And that's what people mean when they talk about switching to a 4-3. So the people asking the question aren't necessarily so stupid that they don't know what nickel is. They might be smart enough to know 4-3 is different from 2-4-5.

Tim said...

I think I'm done with this one, by the way. See you guys around.

Patrick said...

Tim is the new patrick

Anonymous said...

You are correct Tim. Nice job.

Anonymous said...

Here here Tim.

Anonymous said...

Not to add insult to injury, but you're arguing semantics. A 4-3 is simply a front with 4 down linemen. Formations are identified by 3 levels: Linemen, linebackers and DBs. You're simply identifying the formation by the position the players are more suited to play. To each their own in this debate.

However, if our current OLBs were Porter and Gildon (both players who were great rush LBs), I would argue that they would be just as disruptive with their hands on the ground in a "4-3" because of the caliber of players they were.

In that situation would you really care whether Dale called it a 4-3 or 2-4-5? I think we can all agree you'd be wasting your breath. What you should really focus on is that fact that our OLBs aren't great at getting pressure standing up or down on the line. That is the bigger problem.

Zeke R said...

Holy crap, if you don't like this blog go somewhere else or start your own and argue with yourself.. We are here to discuss the team we bleed for and any insight is appreciated that Dale lends us. I'm sure not all of us agree with him 100% of the time but who cares.
If he "wrote" something that you thought was not in a kind and loving manner, grow a pair and become an adult.. Feelings hurt? Go somewhere else!!

Tim said...

Love the comments from people that take offense to me taking offense. I'm taking it and dishing it out. I'm consistent. You don't have to read my comments any more than I have to read this blog.

Semantics could be a portion of it, as I covered around the middle of my last comment, but there's more, as I covered in the rest of my last comment.

Patrick, I'm not sure how to feel about that!

Patrick said...

its a great thing.

Anonymous said...

As a reader of this blog for 7 years or so, I hardly ever comment, but I want to say I come here for insights from the only person on here who has any sort of inside access to the Steelers organization and that is Dale. We can all talk about what we see on TV every Sunday or see at training camp but Dale is the professional and knows and has access to way more information than we do. Unless your asking Dale a question to get his insight, no one cares about about your comments on here. Stop thinking any cares what you have to say on here. Your wasting my time making me have to sort through your inane comments/arguements to find Dale's comments.

PTownSteelTown said...

I rarely comment on here as well, however I enjoy reading the comments from fans because they often are thoughtful and even objective at times, although I don't mind the usual homerism that comes with them. Of course I enjoy Dale's insight, but following his blog doesn't mean I have to agree with everything he says or what is said on it. In this case, I side with Tim. I'm sure I'll side with Dale on his next disagreement with an anonymous. It happens. The condescending thing from Dale is a little annoying, but Dave from Steelers Depot is much worse, and Wexell isn't much better. I'm chalking it up to a sports journalism thing until I find something better (btsc doesn't count).

marc said...

any thoughts on assistant coaches being hired away this offseason? it seams the head coaching spots are being filled up, so now those guys are going to be putting their staffs together.

Dale Lolley said...

Nobody has to agree with everything anybody says. That's the great thing about our country.

This thread has pretty much played itself out. But here's one last thing I'll say about the 4-3 vs. the 3-4, the Steelers have and will continue to run both. They want to have the ability, just as the Patriots are so often lauded for having, to play multiple fronts.

But some fans - not all mind you - feel that because the Steelers are a 3-4 team, they never, ever play anything but the 3-4. I was pointing out that they are - technically speaking - in a 4-3 look 50- to-60 percent of the time when they are in their nickel or dime.

Dale Lolley said...

I do not see any other coaches leaving.

Patrick said...

Dale should take on an assistant coach role. But prob with cinci due to his obsession with the 4-3

Nicholas C said...

Patrick, shut up

Anonymous said...

Nicholas needs a nap

Tim said...

Hey Anonymous @ 9:58 AM,

What you meant to say is, "I don't care what you have to say on here" You don't speak for everyone.

Dale has a pretty serious home field advantage on this blog over me, and so far over half the commenters have agreed with me on the subject at hand. Even of those that side with Dale, none of them (including you) made an attempt to actually defend his position, outside of saying, "He's a professional, so I'm sure he's probably right." With a line of thinking like that, whose comment is really the useless one here?

By the way, here's a pro-tip for your sorting problem: My comments are usually really long and have my name on the top, whereas Dale's are usually much shorter, and have his name, and A PICTURE OF DALE in them.


Dave from SteelersDepot does get like that sometimes, and I've called him out on it as well. I wouldn't call him worse, though. What they have going for them is that it's not all Dave, plus there is much more content.

Joe Jones said...

Dale I think what he means is that a better fit for a 4-3 DE would be a prototype 6-5 to 6-7 pure pass rusher on the outside. A Greg Hardy/Michael Johnson type.

Maybe rnd 2 or 3 could be a Luxory pick where we scoop a part-time player like that just to generate some pass rush.

When Shazier is healthy, I think Timmons could be a good pass rusher at one of those outside spots.

Joe Jones said...

Agreed. Sometimes I say clueless fanboy comments like Rex Ryan as DC.

But that's why I'm just a fan. It's just fun ideas that fans have that are straightened out by an expert like Dale Lolley.

He has become my singular source for Steelers football coverage over the years. There's really no reason to read anyone else's speculation.

Even when he's wrong with an estimation, he still has more actual information in coming to that conclusion than someone who got it right and guessed

Tim said...

Timmons can't generate an outside rush against an OT. Over the years he's played there a number of times. He needs to stay in the middle.

Joe Jones said...

That's what you're concerned about?

Tim said...

I'm confused. Are you addressing me? I was responding to your idea. What was I supposed to say?

Anonymous said...

"Steelers hire Butler"

Wasn't he already on the payroll?

How about promote Butler.