Is this Steelers defense for 2012 capable of being "legendary" ? That's what they are striving for this season. This article from Alan Robinson from the Trib. talks about the players and their expectations.
There are alterations all around them, yet nothing has changed for the old-reliable Steelers’ defensive regulars. They don’t expect to be good, they expect to be the best. And they certainly anticipate being better than last season, when they were No. 1 statistically in the NFL.
“We are striving to be legendary,” safety Ryan Clark said of the defense’s not-immodest expectations.
They still have an age-old problem; with an average age of 30, they could be the NFL’s oldest defense. They might start the season in less than two weeks without injured outside linebacker James Harrison, the disruptive pass rusher whose edginess not just personifies the Steelers but energizes them.
They also are without James Farrior, the longtime captain whose retirement has stripped them of some of their character, continuity and cohesiveness.
Regardless, the Steelers still believe in coach Mike Tomlin’s oft-repeated mantra: The standard is the standard. And for the Steelers’ defense, that is being the NFL’s gold standard, no matter the season or the personnel.
In separate interviews Monday, both Clark and Troy Polamalu mentioned how the Steelers have been frustrated at not being able to play up to the level of the 2008 defense, which was Steel Curtain-like in its dominance despite taking on one of the toughest schedules of any Super Bowl winner.
To Polamalu and Clark, that is the standard.
“I don’t remember that defense doing much wrong,” Clark said. “But last year’s defense, even though we were No. 1, it didn’t look like that and that’s what we are striving for.”
“We could run the same defense 10 times and change positions and make it 10 different defenses to a quarterback,” Polamalu said.
This defense’s development is being overlooked in part due to all the scrutiny of new coordinator Todd Haley’s offense. But defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau is designing some new gimmicks too, his players say, even as outside linebacker Chris Carter, nose tackle Steve McLendon, cornerback Keenan Lewis and nickel back Cortez Allen all see their roles expand greatly.
Clark likes how a defense that had a franchise-low 15 turnovers in 16 games last season has forced seven in three preseason games, three against Buffalo on Saturday.
“Where we’ve gotten better is the Ziggy Hoods, the Steve McLendons and these guys picking up their play and putting more pressure on the quarterback and making plays,” Clark said. “I think the youth movement has helped us.”