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- Mar 31, 2008
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NFL: Steelers' top-ranked defense lacking turnovers, big plays - The Indiana Gazette Online: Steelers/Penguins/Pirates/Pitt ...Hall-of-Fame defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau isn't complaining. His job is to design schemes that slow opponents down. Getting the ball is a bonus.
"You can talk about a lot of statistics, but leading the league in yardage yielded is an important one," LeBeau said. "Do we need more interceptions? Sure. We need more turnovers ... but every week we're trying to keep our football team in the game, keep the score in a manageable position."
Something the Steelers have done as well as anyone in the league. The game-turning plays, however, have been sporadic. Pittsburgh is on pace for its fewest turnovers and sacks since LeBeau returned for a second stint as defensive coordinator in 2004.
Some of it is the byproduct of a defense in transition.
Steelers' top-ranked defense suffocating opponents with less pressure - Behind the Steel Curtain
More about Robert Ayers - It's All Over, Fat Man!Do you remember run fits? My old site isn’t publicly accessible anymore, so I can’t link it, but I’ve talked in the past about how there are 8 gaps. On either side of the center, there’s an A gap, a B gap, a C gap, and an Edge. The biggest gaps, by far, are the Edges. 3-4 defenses tend to do the best at controlling the edges, and forcing running plays back inside. (That’s definitely not to say that 4-3 defenses can’t do it, of course.)
Setting the edge basically entails one player getting the better of another, generally a DE/OLB against an OT or TE. Both the offense and the defense are trying to set the edge, and if the offense wins, there’s a big hole outside, and the defensive guy was pushed to the sideline or onto the ground. If the defensive guy wins, he drives the offensive guy into the backfield, and toward the inside, dramatically cutting down the angle that a RB has to work with. Robert Ayers was one of the best in the NFL at doing this in 2010, especially before he hurt his foot.
When a defensive team sets the edge well, they make it seem hopeless for an offense to even run to that side. In my opinion, there’s a lot of value in that - arguably more than a CB who “takes away half the field.” (Nobody takes away half the field; that’s stupid saying.) Think about it like this. A football field is 53 yards wide. A good edge player on defense can narrow it by 15-20 yards on any running play, just by beating the guy in front of him and setting the edge. The Steelers routinely set both edges like that, which is why they’re next to impossible to run effectively against. When a 53-yard field is effectively about 20 yards wide, and there are about 18 players packed inside that 20 yards of width, you have a congested mess, and nobody is going too far.