Steelers linebacker James Harrison said that defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is not responsible for the team’s decline or struggles on that side of the ball.
LeBeau, 77, has been Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator since 2004, and also served in that position in 1995 and 1996.
In his second tenure with the team, his defenses have ranked in the top 10 in total defense nine times, including leading the league in that category five times.
This season, the defense is 10th against the pass, 19th against the run, 12th overall and allows 23.2 points a game. They finished 13th in total defense last season.
“I hear coach LeBeau, a lot of people say he’s too old,” Harrison said, according to the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “That’s bull. The defense works. Players have to play the defense. Period. It’s on the players.”
Former Steelers coach Bill Cowher and wide receiver Hines Ward recently called the defense “soft” which led Harrison to defend the scheme the team uses.
“The scheme is the same, the calls are the same,” said Harrison, a five-time Pro Bowler “The defense works. It’s been proven that it works for years and years. The defense has always been ranked in the top nine or 10 since coach LeBeau got here, except for the last year and now. The only thing that changes is the players.”
The 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year wasn’t done with his critique.
“Let’s be plain and honest, let’s cut out all the bull — it’s about you dominating your man, period,” he said. “That’s all there is to it. That is what Aaron Smith did. That’s what Casey Hampton did. That’s what they did. They dominated."
The Steelers (3-3) play the Houston Texans (3-3) at home on Monday night.
- Scooby Axson