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Tuesday, January 06, 2015

Tomlin wrap-up notes

Mike Tomlin held his season-ending press conference today and wouldn't comment on the future of any of his coaches or players, saying he wanted to wait until he had completed his exit interviews with everyone.

Tomlin was specifically asked about 78-year-old defensive Dick LeBeau. But Tomlin said he also has not spoken with LeBeau about his future.

Know this: LeBeau wants to coach in 2015, if not in Pittsburgh, then somewhere. And he would get another job if the Steelers cut him loose, which they are not likely to do.

With what promises to be a much younger defense, it makes a lot of sense to bring back LeBeau, one of the greatest defensive coordinators in league history, than force a team that could have as many as four new starters, to have everyone start over with a different coordinator.

And the Steelers would just turn things over to defensive coordinator-in-waiting Keith Butler, anyway.

@ Tomlin said he met with general manager Kevin Colbert on Monday to begin going over the team's cap situation and early draft prep.

The Steelers hold the 22nd pick in the draft and currently have an estimated $5 million in cap space - if the cap comes in at just under 140.8 million. But that projected cap number could go up and the Steelers can easily clear more space.

For example, if Troy Polamalu retires or is released, the cap number goes up to $8.9 million. Releasing Cam Thomas would raise that number to $10.9 million. Lance Moore would take it to $12.45 million.

And those are easy moves to make.

@ I found it interesting that Tomlin mentioned that he brought up Sean Spence's struggles to return to the field to rookie Ryan Shazier when they had their exit meeting.

The Steelers felt that Shazier could have come back sooner from his initial knee injury. Tomlin used Spence as a way to point that out to the rookie, stating that some people in the organization didn't think Spence would ever come back but Tomlin didn't write him off.

@ When asked about his biggest disappointment with his team, Tomlin was quick to point out the lack of big plays in the return game.

Antonio Brown had big punt returns in the opener against Cleveland and regular season finale against Cincinnati and little in between.

Dri Archer and LeGarrette Blount didn't work out as kick returners - though I'm not ready to give up on Archer yet in that regard - and Markus Wheaton worked out only in that he was better than the other guys.

@ Ben Roethlisberger (knee), Matt Spaeth (elbow) and Mike Mitchell (groin) were the only players Tomlin said might require minor "clean-up" surgeries.

45 comments:

Greg Mercer said...

when/if Lebeau does retire, will Butler bring anything different to the table?

is it really a foregone conclusion that Butler will be the guy? after all, he's not Tomlin's guy.

Anonymous said...

Hasn't Butler turned down other offers to stay? That would indicate he's been given some assurance that he's the heir apparent. However, how long is he supposed to wait? If Lebeau is sticking around for another year--and I hope he doesn't--I predict Butler will replace Todd Bowles in Arizona (assuming Bowles gets a HC gig).

D3 said...

The same cushions and same tired bend don't break but break 75% of the time defensive schemes for another yr. YAY! Wide pen middle of the field every single down. YAY! And yes, there are plenty of guys out there that cd do a better job at this point. Let me bang my head into the wall again as the Steelers D forces Ben to be perfect next yr (which he clearly rarely is).

adamg said...

I rarely listen to the Tomlin pressers, but I did today. I give you a lot of credit for sorting through the obfuscation. I think if you asked if the sun rose in the east, you'd get just as convoluted an answer. :)

I guess wrt Shazier, the lesson to be learned is that there's a difference between playing hurt and playing injured. That's the nature of the game for pro athletes, to learn when you can play safely even if it requires pain tolerance and when you can't.

It also seems to me that the Steelers tend to draft players who are redshirt juniors/juniors. So they are younger (20, 21, 22)than 4 or 5 yr college players (23 or 24). No matter how hard they work, they still aren't as strong as they will be at their final physical maturity.

Dale Lolley said...

They haven't always given the same cushions over the past few seasons. Maybe you haven't been paying attention. Rewatch the Kansas City game.

I guess all those years with top-ranked defenses really must have sucked for some of you guys.

Anonymous said...

Yeah really, did you people not notice how our defense dominiated for years and then won us a SB in 2008?

Lebeau's scheme is fine. It's the players that got out of date.

Anonymous said...

Dale, thanks for all the great coverage this season. I was surprisingly content after the loss. As a fan, I'm really looking forward to the next 5ish years. As you've noted multiple times, this offense is loaded with great young players. I have no doubt they will work on the defense in the offseason, and There are some awesome pieces to build around on defense too.

Anonymous said...

Continued....

There is no doubt Steelers fans are spoiled. We have a great organization who builds teams for success over the long run. I live in Redskins country, and they've done the exact opposite. After years of signing overpriced free agents, trading away high draft picks, and changing coaches every year, they are left with nothing. Outside of a few good WR, this team has so many needs it's unimaginable.

If the Steelers ran the team the way some of the fans suggest, we'd probably be in the same boat.

In Rooney, Colbert, Tomlin I trust.

Anonymous said...

Anon719 ...

So it's not LeBeau and his complicated system or his inability to mask the flaws of the people running it between the sidelines?

It's bad drafting by Colbert?

OK, then Colbert needs to go instead of LeBeau.

But you and I know neither will be let go. And that's the problem.

Mike said...

I'm not fond of the argument of "the defense worked just fine when we were winning superbowls". It ignores too many things. First, great coordinators must adapt to the personnel. Second, the NFL has changed over time and schemes have to adapt. Both points may not have invalidated Lebeau as a premier coordinator, but it has to be considered. The "tackle the catch" philosophy was always predicated on the Defense making a play or the offense making a mistake (forced or unforced) before the offense could score. The more plays you forced the offense to make (long drives) the more opportunities there are for one of those two things to happen. Well, we have very few playmakers so the first thing (we make a play) is exceedingly rare. Second, offenses are getting very good and the rules are such that mistakes are more likely going against Def than Off, especially with quality coaches and QB's. I'm not convinced the scheme can work anymore without really top notch personnel.

Dale Lolley said...

Did this team miss the playoffs and go 2-14 this season? I must have missed that.

datruth4life said...

Dale, to me, the primary focus for Kevin Colbert and company this offseason needs to be improving the pass rush. I think the Steelers should let Jason Worilds walk (and take the future 3rd round compensatory pick) and try to sign OLB Jabaal Sheard or Pernell McPhee. I'd resign Arthur Moats as a backup/special teams player and then draft an OLB either in the first or second round. Lastly, I'd have Joey Porter live with Jarvis Jones and Howard Jones this offseason to improve their strength, add size and improve their pass rushing technique. I'd also like to resign Brice McCain, who can be a nickel CB at worst and a starter at best, depending on where Cortez Allen's head is when he comes back. Too bad the team couldn't keep Josh Mauro and Nick Williams. If so, then they could have had their 6 DL in tact for next year, along with McClendon, Heyward, Tuitt and Big Dan. Think Steelers could be interested in a vet LT like Michael Roos, considering his relationship to the Steelers O-line coach?

Mike Frazer said...

For as bad as Cortez Allen played this year, I don't want to cut him. BUT, he is due a $3 million roster bonus on March 1st -- which puts his cap savings at just below $5 million if he was cut before then. One scenario is that he isn't likely to land anywhere with the kind of season he had last year, so if they are willing to risk cutting him they might get him back at a much more favorable rate. Or, they lose him to another team and sign someone who can't possibly play as bad as he did in 2014.

I think he still has a ton of upside and that his issues were mental, but saving $5 million is an intriguing option.

marc said...

dale,
don't let the overall success of the team mask the failures of the defense. what grade would you give this defense for the entire season? I would give them a D.

of course there were some bright spots, but no real consistency. yes, there was improvement, but how could you not improve from the first part of the season.

finally, mike is right, great coaches adapt to the personnel. lebeau is one of the best ever, no doubt. but, for example, at some point he needed to tell #43 "no more freelancing, you're just not good enough to do it anymore". especially with a new running mate on the back end who has no idea where the hell #43 is going to go.

if lebeau wants to come back next season then fine. but I think the rooneys need to tell him that's the last one. give the defensive players extra motivation to send lebeau out on top and give a light at the end of the tunnel for butler to move up the ranks (if that's who the rooneys intend to fill the position).

marc said...

btw dale, thanks for another great season on the blog.

Anonymous said...

Dale, ever been any thought or attempts by Gay as a return man? Seems to do okay with the INT's of late. Just wondered if he had any experience or every did it in camp.

kyle said...

datruth,

They will only draft a pass-rusher in round 1 or 2 if he's the bpa. We all know that. There are a lot of OLBs and DEs expected in the top of the draft though, so maybe they luck out. Also, I know you didn't mean for Porter to literally live with the Joneses but he can't work with them at all outside of approved practices per the CBA. I hope Porter and Tomlin both told Jarvis to add some muscle to those lanky arms even though he was actually ok at holding the point on runs.

Mike Frazer,

The Steelers have asked players to take pay cuts plenty of times but cutting a guy a year into a new contract so you can try to resign him for less is not really how they do business. I know what you mean about the roster bonus but they really don't treat their players that way normally.

marc,

What grade would you give the offense? Ben threw for a bunch of yards. They were 7th in scoring but that is skewed heavily by two 6 TD games. The Steelers were the only team this season to take away the ball exactly as many times as they gave it away. No other team had a ratio of 0. I think your consistency argument works for both sides of the ball.

The defense certainly wasn't great but I watched all but two games and I never saw a schematic problem. Missed tackles aren't on the scheme. Guys getting blown off the ball isn't the scheme. And as much as everybody loves Big Dan, watching him be the last person in the stadium to move on the snap isn't the scheme. Dick LeBeau knows what he is doing and he is good at what he does. Similar to what I said to Mike, the Steelers will not treat Dick LeBeau that way and it is to the benefit of the team.

Sorry for the long response. I just thought all three of you said some interesting things that got me thinking and I wanted to respond.

Dan said...

The Jones and Shazier picks have me nervous, Jones even more so than Shazier. Back-to-back First Round LB busts will set the defensive rebuilding process back even further.

As for Cortez Allen, they might approach him with a renegotiate or be cut proposition to lower his cap hit. A new contract with lower guarantees but incentives for great play might be agreeable to both parties.

Mike Frazer said...

I'm not necessarily advocating cutting him just so they can re-sign him, but he would be an acceptable option to re-sign later if he didn't sign elsewhere and they still need depth.

I liked the kid coming out of college. Anyone coming from a place like Citadel is going to understand discipline. His issues are mental (he has all the physical tools). I wish he had earned that roster bonus, but as of now he isn't worth $5 million to the team as an unknown.

marc said...

kyle,
I agree, the consistency issue goes both ways. but, I think it is clear the offense was more influential to the teams success than the defense this year. there are outliers every year (best/worst games) but I think the offense pulled its weight and the defense did not. I would give the offense a B+, missing an A because they struggled so much without bell.

your point about give/take is interesting. the steelers were 10th best in giveaways and 23rd in takeaways.

I will be the first to say players need to execute. there is only so much a coach can do. but, when you know a player simply is not capable of performing at a certain level, you must make an adjustment. #43 should not have been allowed to freelance, at all. the middle of the field was wide open all season long - I don't know why, but other teams thrived on it. of course there were missed assignments this season that resulted in big plays for other teams. but, do you keep running the same scheme when you know it can't be properly executed?

I'm not saying lebeau is the only reason the defense was poor this season, but he is the defensive coordinator so I do hold him accountable.

Anonymous said...

I for one am glad that the young guys got a taste of the playoff's and will hopefully be a hungry group next year, with the super bowl being damn near in my backyard. Here's hoping the Steelers make it to Levi stadium and I can at least afford to tailgate with some Steeler fans from all walks of life. Stop by Dale, I make a mean rib chili that will be on the burner..

Zeke

kyle said...

Mike Frazer,

That makes more sense but I still don't think they've given up on Cortez. Plus, I doubt they want to go into this season with only William Gay and B.W. Webb under contract at CB. I hope they resign Black and McCain but if they cut Allen then those signings become much more urgent, plus extra free agent signings would become necessary.

marc,

I would agree that overall the offense played better than the defense. I would ask how you know that the middle of the field was open because of Troy freelancing. None of us, Dale included, know any of the assignments on a given play. Most guys on the team will fall on the sword if Dale asks them whose responsibility a blown play was but that doesn't tell you the whole truth.

Personally, I think the defense had to deal with a lot. The emphasis on defensive holding past five yards, having games where almost every member of the secondary is different from Week 1, and having an offense that is capable of going right down the field and scoring or going three and out from their own 10.

I don't know that Troy and Cortez and Ike and Cam Thomas were the biggest issues. I saw all of them make a few plays and I saw all of them screw up. I think getting to play together as a defense more would have helped but even that argument does not hold up against the ILB play which was above the line to my eyes despite having a rotation. Who knows?

I am putting together something about draft history that some of you guys might find interesting. Maybe once I'm done, I'll put some of it here if anyone cares.

Mike Frazer said...

I forgot to factor in the dead money on Allen, which is $5.4 million if they cut him this year. That would only net the team $200,000 in cap space. So that idea is a non-starter.

marc said...

kyle,
sorry, I did not intend to tie together troy freelancing and the middle of the field being wide open. those were two separate issues I was alluding to. I have no clue why the middle of the field was so easy to exploit by other teams this year.

also, every defense has to deal with the same rules that benefit offenses, not just the steelers.

some figures I looked up regarding the steelers defense as ranked relative to rest of the league:

28th % of drives offense scored
29th yards given up per drive
23rd opposing team completion %
29th TD% per pass attempt
28th passes defended (PD)
28th PD's per pass attempt

ugghh.

Anonymous said...

Regardless of what Dale says, the Defense was atrocious. It would have been a massacre had we played next yr's schedule this yr. Brining back the same scheme. which even with pressure leaves the middle of the field completely exposed, will get absolutely torched by good QB's. With no adaptation and hoping to find talent to bring back the glory days (which are long gone), this defense will be even worse next yr statistically. The theory of effectively giving the opposing team 3 automatically and hoping to stop them from 7 when the field is short is absurd in today's league.

kyle said...

marc,

All of those numbers are bad. The only thing I would caution you about is trying to determine much of anything from passes defensed. Bradley Fletcher led the league in passes defensed this season with 22. He was awful. The Eagles were second to last in pass defense. It's rumored Fletcher was a healthy scratch for their final game. There are questions among the fan base as to whether he will be cut this offseason.

I still say the Steelers need some better players or some time spent working together among the players they have. Lebeau's scheme doesn't lend itself to allowing splash plays yet the defense did plenty of that this season. I don't blame him for that. I blame missed tackles and missed assignments. You can try to put it on him that he should change the defense to suit dumber players but I don't think you get much of anywhere with that.

Dale Lolley said...

It's all about the players. Period. You either have them or you don't.

And it's damn near impossible to rebuild both at the same time.

Two teams were in the top 10 of the league this year in both offense and defense, Seattle and Denver.

Seattle got lucky with Russell Wilson. Denver spent like drunken sailors in free agency to pump up its defense.

Anonymous said...

If it's all about the players then why do they pay coaches? Why do certain coaches perform better than others consistently?

Coaching matters. And coaching has a big impact on how good the players become.

Noel said...

Jason Worilds deserves a lot more respect. His sack numbers aren't bad at all for as much as he had to drop into coverage. We will miss him greatly if they can't keep him. The big weakness on D is at safety. I have no confidence in Mitchell regardless of any minor injuries. He wasn't in position, tackled poorly and took poor angles to the ball carrier. I hope he looks better next year but he didn't show us anything yet to merit a great deal of confidence. Same deal with heir apparent Thomas who might be better but we really can't tell yet.

The line looks good with Heyward, McClendon, and Tuitt. The LBs will be okay as Jones and Shazier figure things out, and I really like Spence and Williams too.

An 11-5 season is nothing to sniff at and things are trending upwards. Injuries can always derail the whole works but I feel very optimistic about next year's team no matter what happens with the draft or free agency (as long as they keep Worilds or find a suitable replacement). We have a great coaching staff and an enviable collection of good young players, not players with potential but players who have shown they belong in this league. One or two solid additions in the off season will be enough to be a Super Bowl contender next year. Not too shabby when you consider the significant rebuild that was required after guys like Ward and Farrior left.

marc said...

dale,
coaches put players in position to succeed and players need to execute. it's not just on the players.

I'm not asking for a top 10 defense, nor do I think they need one with the offense they are developing. but something better than 27th/28th in passing defense should be expected.

Dale Lolley said...

Sure they matter. But you're talking about a one bad year for the defense. Does that cancel out over a decade of brilliance? They didn't have the players to work with on that side of the ball this season. Period.

Brice McCain and William Gay were the starting corners for most of the season for cripes sakes. Now, I have a lot of respect for both of those guys, but both are better suited as third corners, not 1 and 2.

Everyone knew this would be a transitional year for the defense. It was. But I thought it got better as the season went on.

It forced more turnovers. I don't care so much about the total defensive rankings if the defense is forcing turnovers. If you give up 500 yards but the other team turns it over three or four times, you're still going to win - especially if you have a top-10 offense.

Anonymous said...

I agree that the defensive coaches didn't have much to work with this year. I was just arguing the idea that coaching doesn't matter in general.

Dale Lolley said...

I just went over the numbers. They had 22 different players start at least one game on defense this season.

Patrick said...

Period.

D3 said...

Even if there has been a decade of brilliance, which there has not been, the league has changed. This defense has not. Same cushion off WR's, same wide open middle field, same cross blitzes that are late to the party. Offenses are simply too quick to get rid of the ball and have to many favorable rules to run that crap. Any QB worth his salt will torch this D unless that scheme changes, regardless of players. And if DL wanted to change his scheme but they cannot due to personnel then guess what, Colbert needs to be held accountable. There is a disconnect someplace, where exactly is unclear.

Dale Lolley said...

What don't you understand about not being able to fix everything in one offseason?

They spent a lot of premium picks on the offensive and defensive lines over the last few years. You have seven draft picks per year. Can't remake an entire team over the course of one or even two offseasons.

They have played one meaningless game in the past three seasons. One. That coming at the end of the 2012 season.

Try being a Tampa Bay or Cleveland fan and see what it means to have your team completely out of it by October.

Dale Lolley said...

Colbert, by the way, has drafted three players who were first-team All-Pro this season. That's more than anyone else.

Anonymous said...

He got lucky on those two Dale

(obvious sarcasm disclaimer just in case)

Anonymous said...

best case scenario for the steelers is of course the one that will never happen. let ben go and usher in the landry jones era. but no we wont because of the ridiculous "franchise qb" label

GiBill34 said...

I am admittedly not an expert, just some thoughts kicked around:
1. One OLB under contract for next yr.
1. I'd like to see Harrison brought back. I don't think he will go for the league minimum, but I do think there will be a nice hometown discount. He seemed to rediscover his love of the game and truthfully we're conceivably close...(can anyone say we had no chance against NE/Denver/etc). I don't want to hold back youth, but as of now we need players there. He had a nice year, we need rotation and depth. With that in mind I also try to resign Moats to a reasonable 1-2 year deal.
2. What are the chances of Vince Williams moving outside? Especially on run downs. He seemed stout up the middle, could that translate to holding the edge outside? He's not super fast or fluid in pass coverage, but covers from ILB as much or more.

Work in SOME 4-3. I think our 3-4 has gotten a little predictable with similar concept for appx 18 years with LeBeau, Thomas, Haslett, and Capers. While most years D's have been good or at least effective they don't seem to create the chaos the early years did. It seems teams have attacked them better (both our similarity and 1/2 the league uses some 3-4 variation). The more differences the more chaos. Additionally practice time is limited with the new CBA. Teams can't fully prep for both.

With that said, I'd envision a 4-3 look (just a change of pace not full time) along the lines of: Heyward/Harrison/ Jones/drafted pass rush specialist at DE. McLendon/Tuitt/McCullers at DT. Shazier/Timmons/Spence/(Moats?) at OLB. Williams/Timmons (I think he could excel inside or out)/Zumwalt at ILB with a normal secondary configuration. The money saved cutting Cam Thomas and not spent on Worilds is almost $12M that could pay for Harrison and Moats to reup for a year (possibly 2 for Moats) plus replacements for them both (as both would be players filling back up roles in this scenario).

TBC...

GiBill34 said...

Draft:
Our offense is pretty well set where I don't see a glaring need for "splash" players. I'd like to see Rounds 1-3 taking the best player available in any order a combination of 2 defensive backs (with good ball skills as turnovers are a glaring weakness for us) either 2 cover cornerbacks or 1 cover corner and one ball hawk of a safety and one high quality pass rusher. Even if it is an outside backer who doesn't excel at holding the edge there are so many obvious passing situations in today's game that a disruptive force who can get home, hurry/hit the QB or at least cause scheme changes and confusion allowing someone else an advantage is so necessary. When in the past can you recall the Steeler's having no one "scary" rushing off the edge like our current situation. Rounds 4-7 (plus at least 1 compensatory pick probably 4th for sanders) in no particular order OT, a TE (compete with Blanchflower and Palmer for 2 and 3) (I love Miller but, am I the only one noticing what seems to be a lot of concussion/head shots taken which have resulted in increased fumbling?), a RB compete with Harris for 2 and 3, an OLB, and either a CB/DE depending on availability.

Defensive backs
I think Allen has just lost confidence and that can be reestablished. (#1 priority for Coach Lake) he seemed right in position on coverage and the ball would go right past him as he seemed too afraid to look back for the ball. To me confidence or needing to learn to read the WR's indicators the ball is at hand quicker. Before he seemingly lost confidence he created a lot of havoc/turnovers IIRC. Gay had a nice year, they can be your starters as you work in the high round draft picks in the nickle/dime or rotational as they progress. I thought McCain played serviceable and would like to see him kept, I know nothing about Webb and I thought although Blake had a few nice plays he was a liability. At safety it's time to see what Thomas has. See what a healthy Mitchell can do. Sadly I'd let Troy go (hopefully to retire rather than cut) and I'd lean toward keeping Will Allen as a backup, not at the expense of seeing what Thomas and Mitchell can do. With Troy's saved $'s I'd look for a serviceable back up FS in in free agency, resigning McCain, leaving a few dollars left toward the draft class.

Sorry it's so damn long. Just a whole seasons worth of held in beliefs. Thoughts?

Dale Lolley said...

Vince Williams is an inside backer. He's not big enough or fast enough to move outside. I know he's listed at 6-1, 250, but I guarantee you he's not anywhere near that. Like most guys, he's dropped weight to improve his speed.

They basically already play a 4-3 a lot of the time when one linebacker rushes and the other drops into coverage. It's all semantics.

I worry about bringing back a 37-year-old linebacker. As we've seen, the old guys are more likely to break down. Even Harrison missed time this season.

I think they'll try to re-sign McCain and Blake will be an exclusive rights FA, so he'll be back as well.

marc said...

"It forced more turnovers. I don't care so much about the total defensive rankings if the defense is forcing turnovers. If you give up 500 yards but the other team turns it over three or four times, you're still going to win - especially if you have a top-10 offense."

seriously dale? they forced 1 more turnover this year than last (ranked 23rd in the league) and you make those comments.

further, in one breath you say the front office did a good job signing guys like Gay/McCain who have been key contributors then the next breath how they are no better than #3 CB's.

finally, I don't know why you refuse to put any responsibility of this poor defense on the coaches. I don't believe anyone is saying it is 100% the coaches fault, but they are the ones who help evaluate, pick, coach, and help prepare players to perform. the fact they made such a huge mistake with cortez allen is a good example of them being partly responsible for this year's defense.

Anonymous said...

I'm not really getting what you're saying. The D did not force more turnovers. They've been consistently crappy at forcing turnovers for the past 4 seasons. And turnovers are have a high degree of luck/randomness to them, and as such nobody stays really good or really bad for more than a year or two. There is always a sharp/quick regression to the mean. But not with this team. They have been consistently awful at turnovers for 4 straight years. They had one more fumble recovery than last year, finishing with one more turnover, INTs the same. But they were uncommonly fortunate, recovering 9 of 11 FF. They forced more the year before. League average for recovering FF is 50%. It is literally a coinflip, complete luck who recovers a fumble. The point is, with luck/randomness being such a high factor in turnovers, nobody maintains such a protracted level of futility without severe talent deficiencies.

And I don't get the point of '22 different players started on defense' either. Is that an excuse for injuries or subpar performance? Because while they did cycle through several starters, I can't think of one that wasn't an upgrade or at least equal to what was replaced. This team was the healthiest team in the league this year. 53 players were used on game day, fewest in the league. Same rumpus room, they were just always rearranging the furniture. Never could quite find feng shui.

Anways, this D has been trending south since 2010. And hung on to players longer than they should have, protracting this 'transition', particularly because of the effect it's had on the salary cap. Anyone who doesn't see that is kidding themselves, but has plenty of company within the organization.

Frankly, I don't see an 'up-arrow' on D. Doesn't mean it's not there, just hasn't revealed itself yet where it matters, on the field. If their recent picks come good, they could be on their way to rebounding. If they don't, they don't. If half... eh. They really need most of the young guys to make a significant leap next year. Shamarko, Jones, Shazier, Tuitt, McCullers, and Shaq the Forgotten.

For the second year in a row, the big play has been the Ds achilles. In 2013 they did manage to put the brakes on them. This year, they managed just to slow them down somewhat. Not giving up the big play is the cornerstone to LeBeau's D. In almost every example someone is not where they're suppose to be. Why? And why has that not been corrected over 2 seasons. Is there a reason they're out of position? Don't understand the D/role? Poor communication? Not getting set properly presnap by the signal caller? Disconnect between the front 7 and back 4? Or has there always been someone out of place here and there, but had the talent previously to compensate/overcome/mitigate? I don't know the answer to that. But this D has a reoccurring problem of giving up big plays while generating few of their own. Any hope of fixing that rests with the young guys. Entirely.

Anonymous said...

.... and they've had to keep leaning on the elderly because they have almost nothing to show for what should be the prime core of this D, the 2008-2012 drafts. Heyward and..... nothing. That's it. Worilds, maybe, but so what. Cortez maybe, but come on. They have almost nothing to show for those drafts. The players from those drafts would've been in their 3rd through 7th year. Say, 24 to 28 years old. That is the meat of anyone's roster.