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Dick Exposed....By His Own Players...

December 07, 2010 by Still Mill

Dick exposed...
Dick Exposed....By His Own Players...


It�s rare indeed to obtain solid, quality sports analysis from the local Pittsburgh media. Most of it is watered-down pabulum fit only for bird cages or kindling.��


The Trib Review did, however, have a superb article in the Tuesday edition, titled �Harris: LeBeau made right call: listening to players�.


The thesis of the article was flawed, but the exposure of Dick LeBeau was spot on.


Below are excerpts from the article.I�ve used underlines and bold to add emphasis where it made sense to do so, as well as short comments in parentheses:


Players play and coaches coach, but Steelers defensive captain James Farrior and his teammates had seen enough Sunday night.

No more sitting back and taking it.

Enough with Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco picking the secondary clean like a leftover Thanksgiving turkey. If the Steelers were going to win the AFC North, someone was going to have to take a bullet for the rest of the team.

Someone was going to have to tell defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to call more blitzes.�� (Gee, no kidding?)

Who better than Farrior? He's one of four co-captains and old enough (35) not to care what people think.

It wasn't easy for a popular veteran like Farrior to make suggestions to his coach, especially during a game. To Farrior, though, the alternative of losing was too unflattering to consider.

"We definitely felt we could get some good pressure. We just had to get the right calls in,'' Farrior said in the afterglow of the Steelers' gritty 13-10 win.

"That's what our guys were preaching on the sideline to the coaches. If we were gonna go down, we were gonna go down blitzing. We definitely didn't want to sit back. Coach LeBeau listened to us.''(finally)

In the first half, Flacco had his way with the Steelers. He navigated the longest scoring drive of his NFL career -- 92 yards. He completed passes of 61 and 67 yards and was 9 of 14 for 179 yards and a touchdown with a 131.5 passer rating.

Other than a first-quarter sack by defensive end Ziggy Hood, Flacco was rarely under duress. He was on his way to another score and a career game when momentum shifted.

On third-and-15 from the Steelers 32 in the second quarter, cornerback Ike Taylor caught Baltimore with a surprise blitz and sacked Flacco for an 11-yard loss. The play knocked Baltimore out of scoring position. Instead of trailing 14-0 or even 10-0 at halftime, the Steelers faced only a 7-0 deficit.

In the second half, the tables turned. The Steelers had their way with Flacco, who was 8 of 19 for 87 yards with a 65.8 passer rating, mainly due to a better pass rush making it difficult for him to step into his throws.

With LeBeau dealing out blitzes like a blackjack dealer shuffles cards, the Steelers overwhelmed Flacco with pressure.

"When you dial up the blitz, it's usually hit or miss,'' Taylor said. "We hit (Sunday) night.''

That's a gamble outside linebacker James Harrison wants to take more often.

"I'm of the feeling if you're gonna kill me, kill me at what I like to do and that's blitz,'' said Harrison, the Steelers' sack leader this season with 10.

"In earlier weeks, we were dropping in coverage (instead of blitzing).   (Gee, no kidding.)    At the end of the Buffalo game last week, we dropped a whole lot more (and nearly dropped the game) . This game we brought a lot more pressure than we did in the first (Baltimore) game.''

Flacco threw the decisive 18-yard touchdown pass to T.J. Houshmandzadeh with 34 seconds left in the Ravens' 17-14 win over the Steelers on Oct. 3. The Steelers didn't blitz on the play, and Flacco was free to throw without pressure.

Two months later, the Steelers defense didn't repeat that mistake when Flacco faced second-and-5 at the Baltimore 43 late in the fourth quarter.

Trailing 10-6, the Steelers' defense needed to make a big play or lose any realistic chance of winning the division.

Strong safety Troy Polamalu delivered, sacking Flacco from the blind side and forcing a fumble that led to the Steelers' winning touchdown.

"We felt like we could disrupt, get in Flacco's face, if they gave us an opportunity,'' said Farrior, who recorded a team-high seven tackles and sacked Flacco in the fourth quarter.

"We don't question Coach LeBeau and the decisions he makes.  (But we should)  Sometimes we just try to throw something out there and maybe (just maybe) he'll listen. Everybody has their own idea --what we should be doing, but he's the guy.''   (No, he's the daft simpleton who clearly is past his prime as an NFL coordinator.)��



There you have it.�� �We just had to get the right calls in.� ��Damning evidence indeed.�� The earlier loss to the Ravens.The loss to the Saints.�� The embarrassing ass-whipping issued by the Pats.�� All games in which Dick played soft, cutesy defense and gave the opposing QB eons of time to stand, totally unfettered and unhurried, in the pocket.


You�ll hear all sorts of babble in defense of Dick.�� �He blitzed Pola in the 1Q, and we gave up a 61-yard bomb.��� Actually, this play had 2 grisly, asinine tactical mistakes by The Great Dick.��


���� - First off, he did blitz Pola, but instead of from the OUTSIDE -- where he�s got SPACE to maneuver -- he blitzed him right up the GUT, right next to the NT.�� The congestion, even on a favorable play, is ugly, and the blitz pickup by any half-mediocre RB is as easy as pie.�� You�ll note the game-changing strip by Pola came on a blitz from the OUTSIDE, not up the gut where there is more traffic than the Ft. Pitt Tunnel during rush hour.

��� - 2nd, he placed slow-footed Ryan Clark -- the absolute slowest, worst coverage man of any starting free safety in the entire NFL -- up in PRESS coverage in the face of a slot receiver.�� Stone stupid.Clark would have a hard time covering a toddler in a sandbox, much less covering a WR in press coverage.And with 3rd & 17, there wasn�t the need for press coverage like this; it wasn�t 3rd down and 4.���


To be sure, there were other foolish, imbecilic tactical blunders by The Great Dick.He often sat the most athletic LB on the team, Larry Timmons, who has been having a MARVELOUS all-around season. Taking your best, fastest, all-around LB off the field is essentially sabotage, no matter how it might be rationalized or justified.


Dick also had the clever idea, on 3d down & 9, to take hobbling DE Yancey Keisel and have him cover a TE on a downfield seam route.��� It�s never a bright idea to have a DE cover a TE down the field.�� It�s an even stupider, drunken-comatose idea to have a DE that missed the past 5 games to a balky hamstring try to cover the TE downfield.Just abject stupidity at its worst.���


Then there�s the babble about, �Dick held the Raven offense to 10 points.���� Gee, strike up the band!!��� Quick -- Hold a parade in his honor!�� Dick held the Ravens to 10 points!��


After the Ravens were held to 20 points or fewer for the sixth time this season, wide receiver Derrick Mason vented his frustration, saying the offense plays like "the Bad News Bears" at times.   Mason publicly and openly RIDICULED the entire Baltoffense after the game.    

Further, although many experts expected the Ravens to develop into a top-10 offense after wide receivers Anquan Boldin, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Donte' Stallworth were added to boost the growth of quarterback Joe Jacco, it simply has not happened.��� With four games left in the regular season, the Ravens are a middle-of-the-road attack, ranking 14th in yards per game (341.7) and 17th in scoring (21.7).�� There are 32 teams in the NFL; the Ravens are 17th in scoring.Not impressive in the least, and it speaks to just how average Joe Jacco truly is.

Then, you factor in the fact that superstar TE Todd Heap pulled his hammy on the game�s FIRST play, and never returned.�� Then, longtime Steeler-killer Mason got nicked up and missed a good chunk of playing time.�� Finally, L�ron McClain -- an elite FB -- was injured and did not dress.�� That�s 2 starters that missed the entire game and a third who hobbled his way amidst missing a chunk of playing time.��

And, in reading the Balt. newspapers, NOT ONE single coach or player cited, "Well, that's a pretty good defense over there....."      No one downplayed the weak offensive output by claiming the Steeler defense was the brunt cause of it.�� Instead, they saw a QB literally SHORT HOP a routine, SIMPLE 2-yard pass to a WIDE OPEN receiver on 4th down and 2, to end the game.��


The point here is that, while Pittsburgh fans are fawning over Dick as though he were the greatest coach to ever roam the sidelines, opponents basically yawn and are blandly dismissive of this all-too-often passive, softee defense.���


Sorry, folks.   It's not like Dick limited the '84 Dolphins to 10 points.��� It�s not like Dick held the �94 San Fran 49ers to 10 points.�� This was Joe Jacco, one of the most average QBs in all of pro football.�� And it�s not like Balt�s offense benefited from golden FP and a host of turnovers.�� The Steeler offense had only 1 turnover, which gave the Ravens the ball on the 2 yard line....their own 2-yard line.�� It truly was no big deal and no Herculean effort.��


Dick got exposed, not only on national TV, but by his own players after the game.�� Rather sad when players have to beg and plead with the coordinator to make the correct tactical decision.�� Sometimes, the truth hurts.�� Perhaps Dick will realize all of this after a long nap.�� Perhaps, like Dave Wannstedt, Dick will soon realize it�s time to step down.��



(Still Mill and -- when it comes to the analysis of the Pittsburgh Stillers, no one else comes close�.)



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