|Replacing a legend is never an enviable task, just ask Bill Cowher, or better yet Cliff Stoudt, about what it was like replacing Terry Bradshaw. I’m pretty sure that Stoudt wishes he would have had the success that Bill Cowher had replacing Chuck Noll. It is now Keith Butler’s turn to replace a Steelers legend as he takes over for long time defensive coordinator, Dick LeBeau. The Father of the 3-4 zone blitz scheme, LeBeau was a master at disguising coverages and would blitz from anywhere out of any formation. His scheme was a nightmare for offensive coordinators around the league, when he had the athletes to maximize the effectiveness of what he was looking to do.
LeBeau’s scheme was difficult for young players to pick up, so often they sat for three or four years before seeing regular playing time. As players like Rod Woodson, Greg Lloyd, Joey Porter, Aaron Smith and Troy Polamalu left or retired, and were replaced with less talented players, his schemes became less effective and had to be scaled back. This past offseason, the Steelers decided to part ways with LeBeau and replace him with long time defensive coordinator in waiting, Keith Butler. While it may seem like Butler will have his hands full replacing a legend like Dick LeBeau, quite the opposite is true.
Keith Butler has plenty of talent to work with and mold, and although he will retain alot of what the defense did under LeBeau, he will simplify and tweak the system to fit the talent that he has available to him. This is why I believe the defense will be alot better than most think it will be and why the younger guys will contribute more alot sooner than they would have under LeBeau. These young guys will be be able to read and react to what they see from offenses and not have to think nearly as much, letting their instincts and abilities able to come through much sooner.
Butler also has the luxury of a explosive offense being able to carry the team for the first four to six weeks of the season, until these guys get comfortable playing with each other and adjusting to what Butler envisions for the defense. Once they get to that point, I look for a defense that is similar to the “Blitzburgh” style of defense that they ran under Dom Capers. Pair that up with the offense that they have, and I can see the Steelers hoisting their seventh Lombardi trophy in the near future. Keith Butler just might have one of the best jobs in the NFL.