Now that Keith Butler has one full year under his belt as the Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator the current media trend seems to be all about getting defensive players who have been around a while to compare the schemes and styles used now to the ones Dick LeBeau used when he was in charge of calling the shots. On Monday, safety Robert Golden was a guest on Steelers Nation Radio and it was his turn to talk about the differences he’s observed while playing for both LeBeau and Butler.
“To be honest, they’re kind of similar,” said Golden. “LeBeau, he created most of the fire zone defense and he was able to show us how they ran and Coach Buts [Butler] he’s the kind of guy that wants to bring it all the time. I feel like LeBeau was kind of more on the conservative side, but Coach Buts, he loves to bring the fire. So, I liked playing under Coach LeBeau, I love playing under Coach Buts, they both bring something different to game and whatever I can do to help the team win, that’s just what I want to do.”
While Golden tried to be as neutral as possible, the fact that he noted Butler as being more aggressive than LeBeau was is not overly surprising.
If you have read this site for an extended amount of time, you have seen me document how LeBeau really liked to coach conservatively and how his aggressiveness really ramped up when the downs and distances played into his favor. LeBeau’s motto was always to stop the run and tackle the catch on early downs in an effort to get opponents into predictable situations on third downs. There was nothing wrong with those schematics for several years, however, when opposing offenses started to throw more on first downs out of three wide receiver personnel groupings during LeBeau’s last few years in Pittsburgh, the Steelers defense seemed to play behind the chains quite a bit more which led to even more conservative calls, which is short for saying less blitzing.
As Alex Kozora has already pointed out several times this offseason, the Steelers certainly blitzed a lot more in 2015 than they did in 2014, LeBeau’s final season in Pittsburgh. Sacks and turnovers also increased last year and while the defense still had problems against the pass, slight improvements were made during Butler’s first year as the defensive coordinator.
The Steelers dedicated their first three draft picks this year to defensive players with one being a defensive lineman who can get after the quarterback and two others that can play bump and run in the secondary. Regardless of how long it takes those three players to learn the defense and start seeing the field on a regular basis, you can expect Butler to remain aggressive with his play calling in his second season calling the defensive shots.
One of those three early draft picks this year was former Maryland safety Sean Davis and even though he’ll be aiming to take away Golden’s starting spot, the veteran knows it’s his duty to train younger players just as former Steelers safeties Troy Polamalu and Ryan Clark did with him when he first came into the league as an undrafted free agent several years ago.
“I just kind of want to fall in that line and if I can help a younger guy to succeed, that’s something I want to do because someone helped me before,” said Golden. “I don’t really look at it as a competition phase, it’s all about helping each other and doing what’s best to get the seventh ring around here.”