A PFF look into Dick LeBeau’s brilliance


If you are a Tennessee Titans fan and don’t see the staggering difference in the defense this year compared to the defense last year, then I can’t help you. You are just incorrect and either haven’t been watching the game or don’t know how to watch the game.

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Now, I don’t think there are many people out there that don’t see this difference but for those that do and are confused how they have gotten so good, the explanation is Dick LeBeau.

Before you talk to me about personnel, let me first say yes Brian Orakpo has been great and he is definitely a difference maker. In fact, Derrick Morgan and Jurrell Casey have also been outstanding and the Titans in this Dick LeBeau defense. The three have combined for 13.5 sacks this year, which is more than 7 teams this year.

So, when they are playing so great how can I say that this defense is a product of Dick LeBeau? Well, you have to look at why those three players are getting the one-on-one matchups that allow them to get to the quarterback.

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  • Dick LeBeau has done a great job mixing up his blitz packages to either overload one side of the field or to force one on one matchups with sheer numbers. Even through the schemes and game plans of LeBeau, that alone wouldn’t be enough to be as good as this team has been this year. The true key to his success has been his ability to coach up cornerbacks and defensive linemen to play far beyond their ability.

    For years, William Gay, Ike Taylor, and Brett Keisel were stars in the league in Dick LeBeau’s defense for the better part of a decade. But when you look at these guy, no one really wanted them coming out of college.

    William Gay was a fifth round pick, 170th overall in the 2007 draft. Ike Taylor was a fourth round pick, 125th overall in the 2003 draft. Brett Keisel was a seventh round pick, 242nd overall in the 2002 draft. Those guys were key pieces on a defensive unit and they accentuated stars like Troy Polamalu, James Harrison (an UDFA), and Lamarr Woodley who were the true impact players.

    Now, Dick LeBeau is finding a way to make players like DaQuan Jones (4th round pick), Coty Sensabaugh (4th round pick) and Cody Riggs (UDFA) viable options on this defense. Not only that, but they were actually three of the top four graded players this week according to PFF.

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    While his work highlighting the stars on this team is impressive, it is Dick LeBeau’s ability to work with guys that aren’t blue-chippers that is truly impressive. It is easy to make great players look great, it is incredibly tough to make players who have been weak spots in the past look very good.

    The Titans have to find a way to keep LeBeau this offseason and they need to let him make a list of demands and give in to whatever he wants. This team is now the 6th best defense in the league in terms of yards, compared to being 27th last year. How can you afford to let the architect of that change go?