Tuesday, May 15, 2007

LeBeau Gives Tomlin a Chance to Succeed

Fans may have some misgivings about the new direction of the Steelers' offense, but rest assured the team's defense is still in good hands. In fact, one could make the argument that much of Bill Cowher's success was directly attributable to Dick LeBeau, whom new head coach Mike Tomlin has wisely retained as defensive coordinator.

Consider this: In the six seasons in which LeBeau served as Cowher's defensive coordinator the Steelers compiled a 75-34 record (69% winning percentage), including a 9-4 record in the post-season. In five of those six seasons the Steelers qualified for the playoffs, reaching the Super Bowl on two occasions. In the remaining nine seasons during Cowher's 15-year reign the Steelers compiled a not-nearly-as-impressive 86-65-1 record (57% winning percentage), emerging victorious in just three of eight playoff games. Never mind the fact that the Steelers went 33-19 from 1992-94, when LeBeau served as Cowher's secondary coach. In other words, Cowher's career record without LeBeau is a mere 53-46-1.

All of this bodes well for Tomlin, who should reap the benefits of LeBeau's defensive expertise. If the new offense can hold up its end of the bargain Pittsburgh's first season under Tomlin could be more successful than most prognosticators expect.

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