Injuries, depth, the "next man up" on defense, and Dick LeBeau
As we all know, the defense has been pretty ravaged by injuries for most of this season, but one thing I've wondered is if Dick LeBeau is indirectly responsible for injuries having such an adverse effect on the defense. We keep hearing that his system is very complex, and that most players don't get the gist of it for a couple of years, but sometimes I wonder if that hurts the quality of the depth on defense. LeBeau typically doesn't give his young players much playing time, and I wonder if that leaves them unprepared to contribute in the event that one of them is the "next man up" after an injury. My thinking is, there's gotta be a way to simplify the defense so it doesn't take so long for young players to be assets to the team, whether as starters or depth.
Other things I wonder: Has LeBeau gotten stale with the Steelers the way Andy Reid has gotten stale with the Eagles? Should the Steelers show LeBeau the door and promote Keith Butler? Maybe Butler can develop a system that's easier for the players to understand so they can contribute sooner. Besides, it's pointless for the Steelers to keep him as a position coach for so long if they're going to tell LeBeau to stick around as long as he wants. I disagree that a coach should always be allowed to retire on his own terms, because even Chuck Noll lost his touch after a while. LeBeau has been the defensive coordinator for the last nine years, and he's 75 years old to boot. Maybe he's out of ideas. Maybe certain aspects of his method have become a hindrance for the team.
"I came here to play with him. I think he has a lot of respect from around the league. He's a top-flight quarterback. People are going to have to respect it sooner or later."
-Jerricho Cotchery, Steelers WR, on playing football with Ben Roethlisberger (November 17, 2013)