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View Full Version : Is it still a "stop the run first" type of mentality in today's NFL?



BlitzburghRockCity
07-18-2011, 08:09 PM
Dick Lebeau and the Steelers as a whole have always lived the credo of "stop the run" on defense. First and foremost that is the primary goal every Sunday, every week regardless of the opponent. In a nutshell, if you stop the run you make the offense one dimensional therefore improving your chances for success. It's a concept that has served the Steelers well for decades; annually the Pittsburgh run defense is near the top of the league. Overall the defense is a top 10 unit in nearly every category too.

With today's offenses focusing on the passing game more and more, should the Steelers begin to rethink their focus on defense? One way to do that is perhaps foregoing the traditional big Casey Hampton or Vince Wilfork type of player and focus more on the ability to stop the pass on the way to run? Like other teams do? With the addition of players like Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward who have solid pass rush skills but also the ability to hold up against the run, perhaps it's the way of the future. The Steelers already deploy many different schemes and personnel groupings that don't always involve the main 3 guys on the DL being on the field, and it's been very successful.

In my opinion though,the hard nosed, stop the run, mentality will continue to be the Steelers motto in the future as much as it is now. I do like the abilities of young guys like Hood to get after the passer now, it's a new dimension that they will need in this new NFL era. Hood is still improving and the addition of Cam Heyward is going to bring new possibilities to the line.

Just something to think about, and how that thinking might affect future draft picks.

(I credit our own K train for the inspiration of this thread. We've been debating the possibility of Ziggy Hood eventually playing NT for the Steelers in another thread and then the wheels started turning, LOL. )

steelersbabex25
07-18-2011, 08:36 PM
It's sad to say, but yeah, I think the Steelers need to start changing the way they play defense. It's all fine and dandy to say that, yes, we've had the #1 pass defense in the league for the past 78 years or however long it's been. But when you have a pass defense more towards the lower half in a now pass happy league, eh, the rush really isn't that important anymore.

Every week it seemed, teams would come out with a balance. Rush, pass, rush, rush, pass. And the Steelers would stuff the rush and stop some of the pass. Then teams are like, "wait a second, our run game isn't doing anything, and we can complete 5 yard passes all day. Why are we even trying to run?" Then they pass all over the place, which leads to our late game meltdowns on defense. Everyone always says we play not to give up the big play. Ok, well that's great, but in the end does it really matter if the opponent gets a touchdown off one 80 yard pass or 16 5 yard passes?

SteelDad
07-18-2011, 09:28 PM
It's an interesting question. We've seen college football teams have high degrees of success pretty much exclusively with the pass and the fad seems to be moving into the NFL. My feeling is the NFL is still a league where you have to have some success running the ball week-to-week. Of course you can have a game where the passing attack dominates but I still think a defense's number one priority is to stop the run and make the offense one-dimensional. Of course being able to actually stop the pass occasionally would help. Especially on 3rd down.

K Train
07-19-2011, 12:00 AM
id like to say no, because it IS becoming a much more balanced idea and stopping the pass to make them run the ball if thats what you gotta do, but so many teams want to be like the steelers and like the ravens and like the vikings to just completely destroy the run game almost to the point where its not relevant and thats why you see so many versions of the 34 popping up...the 34 is made to stop the run, but also fool the passer with confusing schemes to never really know where that last or last 2 rushers are coming from.

teams like the chiefs and cowboys play very effective 34s, without the prototype personell...its kind of fascinating seeing the league go through these changes...not saying that aaron smith and brett keisel were great prosepcts but thats a 4th and 7th round pick there and those kinds of players have made guys like jj watt and adam carriker be top picks, small school guys like kendal langford or alex carrignton go much higher than they would have 10 years ago...its actually getting to the point where youd be better off drafting for a 43 and building that defense, when 5 years ago there were probably 5 34 teams total and now its over half

uclkyle
07-19-2011, 03:06 AM
Interesting thread and article. I personally like the fact that the Steelers are SO dominent against the run, most teams don't even attempt to run. By design we make teams pass. I guess if you have to pick your poision, it's better to make a team beat you throwing rather than running down your throat. There are only about three teams that can consistently beat us throwing (Pats, Indy, and now GB). I think in the future, the success of our defense will continue to be stuffing the run and getting quicker more consistent QB pressure (something we sometimes fail to do, ie the Super Bowl).

Black@Gold Forever32
07-19-2011, 03:34 AM
The NFL goes in cycles like everything else in life.....You must adapt to stay on top......The Steelers will always put serious effort in stopping a teams run game.....But in todays NFL and the rules put in place the passing game is more of the focal point so its time maybe for the Steelers to add DL that rush the passer first and then coach them up in the run game......Hood will never be Casey Hampton or even Joel Steed like but I do think he can improve in stopping the run.....At least to the point were he isn't a weakness out there against the run......

BlitzburghRockCity
07-19-2011, 09:20 AM
Another interesting point is that teams like the Patriots that use the short passing game as a type of run game, just shred a defense like the Steelers. The only thing that drives me nuts about a 34 defense like the Steelers run is they never, ever, seem to have an answer for a good TE. Fortunately for the Steelers the majority of teams don't use the short passing game as a major arsenal of their offense. If they did we'd be royally screwed, LOL.

BG32 makes a good point, about fads come and go in the NFL. I wonder though with today's WR's being bigger and faster and the running backs being smaller, stronger, and faster, if we'll ever get back to the smash mouth style that used to be the norm.

LatrobePA
07-19-2011, 10:46 AM
I think teams will play us different this year and go pass happy until of course we stop it..

steelersbabex25
07-19-2011, 06:23 PM
I think teams will play us different this year and go pass happy until of course we stop it..

Of course. All the teams we played this year who we now have to play again will definitely know how to attack us.

K Train
07-19-2011, 07:43 PM
its not that simple...teams might say hey the packers and the patriots can throw the ball on the steelers, we should too since we cant run. but really theres not that many teams with that kind of fire power, and the more teams that try the more successful the steelers are gonna be at stopping it.

a lot of people act like the secondary is doomed til further notice, if anything its gonna be more prepared

Black@Gold Forever32
07-19-2011, 07:47 PM
Packers have Aaron Rodgers and the Pats have the ultimate LeBeau defense killer Tom Brady.....So that is the big difference there to why those teams tore up our secondary.....The Steelers current secondary isn't great but its good enough to stop most teams passing games.......The elite QB's kill them at times but those elite QB's burn most secondaries.....

andyg1984
07-19-2011, 08:32 PM
exactly .. we get beat by elite QBs moreso than good passing attacks when it counts imo .. it takes a ton of preparation, experience and confidence to sit back and throw vs a team like us .. brees, brady and rodgers beat us when we had ben this year .. im not counting sanchez - in that case it felt like we lost as a team vs a team lol ..

Phenomenal TJ
07-19-2011, 11:05 PM
It's not the scheme that's screwing the Steelers secondary, and not the 'stop the run first' mentality, it's the personnel.

Real Deal Steel
07-20-2011, 12:21 AM
Interesting thread and article. I personally like the fact that the Steelers are SO dominent against the run, most teams don't even attempt to run. By design we make teams pass. I guess if you have to pick your poision, it's better to make a team beat you throwing rather than running down your throat. There are only about three teams that can consistently beat us throwing (Pats, Indy, and now GB). I think in the future, the success of our defense will continue to be stuffing the run and getting quicker more consistent QB pressure (something we sometimes fail to do, ie the Super Bowl).

First off, great topic.

I don't think we have to change the philosophy, but more like tweek it. We've always stopped the run to force teams to be one-demensional offensively. The only problem is that our secondary isn't good enough to take advantage of one-demensional offenses the way it used to.
We don't need to change anything other then recognizing that the kind of athlete that we could stick back there in the secondary has to be upgraded now because of the overall upgrade of sophistication of the passing game in the NFL. That's all.

BlitzburghRockCity
07-20-2011, 09:53 AM
As good as the Steeler defense is overall, if the secondary can get it's act together and be as formidable as the front 7; just imagine how dominant they could really be? As it is teams don't even bother trying to establish the run once you hit about the midway point of the season. They'll try and pound the rock early on because it's what you're supposed to do but in reality they have no intentions of making a living out of running against the Steelers front. And really why should they, they can be quite successful passing it!

Our secondary has been hidden over the years by a great pass rush but in the last 2 years especially it's been exposed as a glaring weakness. Figuring out a way to get more out of those players or getting new players in who can play better is so paramount to our future success it's not even funny.

K Train
07-20-2011, 10:21 AM
i really actually blame troy and clark for the secondary. troy is always banged up, never healthy and plays so poorly when hes not. he also really makes the job on the corners and other safeties pretty difficult as hes never really a safety but more of a mini LB. he is either directly in the play or completely out of it theres no structure. i would really like to see him play in a more tradtional safety role, hed probably stay healthier too....ike and bmac arent the greatest duo, but theyve got the job done before, troy puts a lot of weight on their shoulders and hes the one voted to the probowl while they are condemned by the world.

and ryan clark just sucks at this point

BlitzburghRockCity
07-20-2011, 10:34 AM
McFadden and Taylor were a great duo a couple years ago when the Steelers won SB XLIII. They both were more than capable of covering just about any receiver in the league. Then BMac left for Arizona, got hurt, and didn't have a good year. Tomlin banked on him coming back and playing like he did 2 years ago but that didn't happen. He was hurt a lot last year and when he did play he was still hampered by injury and just not on his game like he used to be.

If McFadden could come back in 2011 and play like he did in the past, and Ike Taylor is brought back, then we might have something special. I agree that Troy is an all or nothing type of player right now. When he's healthy he's on fire but he's been hurt so much it's just a crap shoot as to how many games he'll miss in a season. His style of play does put a lot of pressure on the secondary yes, but then you could blame Lebeau and Butler for allowing him to be the freelance player that he is too, right?

K Train
07-20-2011, 10:40 AM
no cant blame them, but i think it might be for the good of the team to make him a more discliplined safety....not only because it would keep him healthy and make him actually play for his monster contract, but it will make him last longer and id rathe rhave him on the field as opposed to not having him on the field.

coldrolled
07-25-2011, 09:53 PM
It's not the scheme that's screwing the Steelers secondary, and not the 'stop the run first' mentality, it's the personnel.

true, we need coverage for the pats, colts, saints, packers, good tight coverage off the line. not 10 yards back.

we need personnel to do that.

sometimes were 12 yards off the line. then the welker types have a field day.