PITTSBURGH (KDKA/AP) — At 73 years old, Hall of Famer and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau still has that “swagger.” He still designs and makes the calls for the league’s best and most aggressive defense.
In the nine seasons that LeBeau has served as Pittsburgh’s defensive coordinator, the team has never ranked lower than ninth defensively in the NFL — averaging third in the league during his tenure.
This season, no team allowed fewer points than the Steelers; and only one team permitted less yardage.
The continued success of the LeBeau and his defense has earned him respect from his players and other coaches.
Cornerback Ike Taylor said he considers LeBeau a “father figure.”
“You won’t find another guy who is Coach LeBeau,” Taylor added. “A guy of his stature, knows defense in and out, pretty much made up the ‘fire-zone blitz’ packages. He’s very laid-back, real cool, real collected. Usually, you see those guys and they have egos. There’s not one cell in his body that has a bad ego. Very humble.”
Linebacker James Farrior who has played in the NFL for 14 seasons said LeBeau is the “best defensive coach” he has been around.
Over the years his players have openly campaigned for him to be honored in the NFL Hall of Fame. They efforts finally paid off as LeBeau was inducted in the 2010 class.
His players showed their respect for their coach when they showed up to support him during his induction ceremony in Canton, Ohio.
“I’ve said consistently they’re the best PR department I’ve gotten,” LeBeau said. “They got me in there. It was great. It’s very humbling to be honest with you. It’s the type of thing that makes you think you made the right career choice. When the guys that you’re working with can treat you like that, it’s a very, very special thing and it’s a lifetime memory and something I will never forget.”
Under LeBeau’s leadership the Steelers led the league with 48 sacks and allowed an average of 62.8 rushing yards per game.
But LeBeau has something to prove against the Jets: they were one of two teams this season to rush for more than 100 yards against them. The Steelers only recorded one sack against the Jets in Week 15’s 22-17 loss.
In that game, the Steelers were without team MVP safety Troy Polamalu.