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Sunday column: Why Haley, LeBeau both could go

By Dejan Kovacevic | Trib Total Media

BOSTON — Morning, Lunatics …


>> The Sunday column counts down 10 reasons why I can see both Todd Haley and Dick LeBeau not being back with the Steelers for 2014.

What say you on the topic?

The Patriots remain team of the century. Beat man Alan Robinson reports.

The clock ticks on a Ben Roethlisberger extension call, by Robinson.

Rob Gronkowski looms large in this week’s play to watch, by Mark Kaboly.

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Author: Dejan Kovacevic

Dejan Kovacevic, a lifelong Pittsburgher, is an award-winning sports columnist for Trib Total Media covering the Steelers, Penguins, Pirates, Pitt and, recently, his fourth Olympics in Sochi, Russia. He also appears on WPXI-TV's 'Subway Final Word’ and hosts a weekly show on TribLIVE Radio. For 2011, he was named one of the country's top four columnists by the AP Sports Editors. For 2012, he was named one of the country's top three columnists by the National Headliners. For 2013, he was named the state's top columnist by the Keystone Press Awards and top columnist in Western Pennsylvania by the Golden Quills.


  1. Ghost says:

    Agree that LeBeau’s tenure should be brought to an end. Agnostic on Haley. The downfield passes you long for just ain’t a-coming with this offensive line. They can’t protect Ben long enough for deeper pass plays to develop. If I were OC, I would use a lot of quick screens and and dink-and-dunk passes, too. That’s our reality. Just execute better.
    As for LeBeau and his defense, said it before and I’ll say it again — his defense is TOO complex for its own good. It wastes man-years as top draft choices must apprentice on the sidelines for a few years each, only for us to find out far too late that many of them are flops. Hopefully, he is no flop, but Jarvis Jones and his demotion is only the latest example of not being able to benefit from a high draft pick due to the steep and lengthy learning curve of the Rube LeBeauberg defense. Do what it takes to transition back to the 4-3, and see a more flexible, quicker defense on the field. Sincerely appreciate what LeBeau has brought to the Steelers over the years, but opponents have adapted and his time has passed.

  2. Paul overholt says:

    I hate to look ahead to the end of the season going into week 9, but it is pretty obvious that this team will not turn this around with the lack of talent at so many positions. I do see Haley being fired to maximize the 4-5 years that Ben has left and a ‘Ben Friendly’ O-Coordinator brought on board. We need one or two weapons at WR to help this effort out.

    But lets talk about the defense. The loss of Casey Hampton, James Harrison, Keenan Lewis, and yes Larry Foote has made this defense into one that doesn’t stop the run and can’t get to the QB to help the DB’s force turnovers. I can see Dick LeBeau seeing the writing on the wall and knowing that combined with the lack of personnel and negative outlook retiring at the end of the year. I can’t really see us continuing with the 3-4 after LeBeau retires and with Tomlin being a 4-3 guy, he might look to use this to shake things up next year. Tomlin promotes Keith Butler and we transition into a 4-3 Tampa 2 defense. Right now, players like Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward are miscast in their current role and Jarvis Jones isn’t heavy enough in the ass to hold the point of attack on the strong side like Silverback use to. Woodley-McClendon-Heyward-Hood run the front line. Jones comes to become the weakside LB and Timmons could not handle the MLB responsibilities so he would become the strongside LB. We would then look to draft a Derrick Brooks/Brian Urlacher clone to run the MLB.

  3. kr70 says:

    So sad about Lebeau…The team stinks and he has to be part of the blame but Haley should be gone NOW. He has been a terrible fit. You can’t change the past drafts drafts, you can’t change the age of the team but you sure can try to change the chemistry on this team and that’s one thing you can do NOW.

  4. BillyBaduka says:

    I agree that Jones needs to add strength. He was so much quicker than most Tackles in college, not so in pros. Once an O-lineman blocks him he doesn’t seem to shed it well. Many of Jones sack and TFL numbers come from games against lesser opponents. That level of Tackle doesn’t make it to the pros.

    To nit pick, Jones and Harrison when he was with the Steelers are WS linebackers, not strongside. Woodley is strongside, lined up over TE.

  5. JohnS says:

    I disagree with the premise of most of the column. To me scheme is so far down the list of problems it is hardly worth mentioning. Football is about execution first and foremost. Execution is struggling due to the lack of talent. The personnel people have made mistake after mistake in drafting and evaluating talent. The evaluators are the people that must be replaced for this team to move forward and from what has been written in the past Tomlin is at the head of that group.

  6. JoeyBats says:

    We’ll remember the GREAT times that Coach LeBeau helped us achieve….!!
    But it IS all about the talent….and the tank is running on fumes. :-(

  7. Brandie says:

    Execution is a huge part, but if you do not have the coaching or playing talent to exexecute, if your team is so far behind the playing curve playing yesterday’s football, then it’s time to clean house on many levels.

    Welcome and please keep posting.

  8. Brandie says:

    Execute, not exexecute. Sorry about that.

  9. Tim says:

    Long ball ain’t happening with this offensive line and no Casey Hampton, no run stop. Not a fan of long ball, never worked for the Steelers and don’t forget we are the Steelers. Look what happens when we do it right. I’ll take those beauties against the Jets and Ravens everytime. Other teams can put up all the fantasy stats they want, but in the end what does it get them? Blaming LeBeau for anything is foolish. LIstening Ghost?

  10. cherokee23 says:

    Couldn’t agree more with NHL column yeterday……great & timely opinions…..I don’t mind a fight every now & then, but this stuff stinks—-Flyers, Varlamov, goon discipline. My biggest struggle with hockey is how great a game it can be versus how prehistoric it can be, at the same time!

    The Steelers……So many issues, top to bottom, on & off field, in & out of locker room…..DK probably had trouble paring the list to 10!…..Just not the makings of a good team. FWIW, I think problems begin with player leadership & Ben. He is a great player, but a very poor leader of men. No disgrace in that. But if you look back at his actions, comments since he’s become or tried to become the leader of this team, it stinks. Even when he says the right thing, it’s with a twist, or a sarcastic attitude. I think this trickles down. This is one of many current problems with this organization, but I believe it’s the biggest!

  11. Tim says:

    Here’s the problem with the Steelers: McClendon for Hampton, Worlidis (or Jones, who I agree with Tomlin needs to show more before he starts) for Harrison. Ziggy for Smith. An offensive line that is beyond terrible and a perfect kicker who misses two gimmee’s. I love smashmouth Steeler football, don’t give a damn for fantasy stats. We are the leaders, not the followers. The system works; now find the players to fit the system. How many championships does Peyton Manning have? One less than Eli Manning. Stop whining Pittsburgh. You sound like Philly fans

  12. Great column.

    A perfect 10.

  13. Sarah says:

    Good post…but….I dunno but when we sign guys who were on their couch eating Cheetos last week, and they out-perform our starters, I start to wonder about the quality of the prep/training/coaching in the org. Is it really lack of talent?

  14. SeanAY says:

    Has that always been your avatar? I’m a sucker for a good obscure Simpsons reference.

  15. hockeymonster says:

    Pens did me a real solid on a personal level taking care of bizness against Columbus this weekend…much obliged!

    Jeffrey in…we win…again….just sayin.

    DK: He brings next to nothing. What do you see?

  16. Eric Bowser says:

    The talent isn’t there, no doubt but great coaches, even good ones, are able to take crap and mold it into average. Kevin Colbert and Mike Tomlin just haven’t been good enough at the draft and then Tomlin and his coaches have been miserable at developing and cultivating the guys selected.

    Todd Haley is coaching a system exactly as he was instructed to do by ownership. He’s not going to go against the Rooney’s desire. Hell, it wouldn’t surprise me if the offensive game plans have to be approved by them.

    The supposed complexity of Dick LeBeau’s defense is an excuse.

    Right now, I don’t see Ben Roethlisberger getting an extension with the Steelers because the ownership is in a bad place. They see more value going back to the 1970s power football than today’s reality and I suspect Ben will want some say in how the team moves forward offensively, much like his peers have had.

  17. Eric Bowser says:


    Worst ownership in town right now are the Steelers…

  18. Rbilak says:

    Absolutely correct, if Luck, Rg3, Wilson start as rookie QB’s then there should be no defense so complex it takes 2-3 years to learn. There is no pressure, the blitzes confuse no one, there are few turnovers. Yes, the draft has produced little, but the defense has been on decline for 2 straight years, long standing trends.

  19. Rbilak says:

    Agree, the “we need to run” mandate by Art II is a complete failure. Haley’s has two huge red flags, 1. Lack of scoring drives on first possessions, this on scripted plays designed by Haley, constantly forcing us to play from behind. 2. The Red Zone lay calling simply stinks. They constantly settle for 3, have no clue what to do in this zone. Combining the off field stupidity, as Ditka said “You get what you tolerate”. Coaches should have a higher standard. The arguement a replacement in mid season won’t work proved false by Ravens last year.

    This off season we find who is really in charge. If Art2 continues to hold steady, make questionable coaching announcements, we will be proven the 3rd worst ran pro team in town, and that is substandard. As Kansas City proved, the NFL can be turned around in one offseason, do the Steelers have the fortitude to do “Whatever it Takes?”

  20. 21sthebest says:

    And that’s the definition of being a what have you done for me lately fan, IMO. I’ll still take the Rooney’s first followed by Mario and then Nutting.

  21. T.S. says:

    Tomlin’s needs to go. Time for a new direction.

  22. I would now like to know who you all would replace these coaches with, since it’s easier to criticise than to come up with an actual solution.

  23. BillyBaduka says:

    It has. Thanks! Me too.

    Avatars were more scrunched and harder to make out until this last change.

  24. nellieh says:

    I’m in the “Haley is a bust” camp. I think it was a mistake bringing him in and I believe cronyism had a lot to do with it. He has had an abrasive personality where ever he has been and his association with the QB and problems off the field hasn’t done anything to dispel that. The Steelers became a winning class organization under Dan Rooney and I don’t think Haley fits into that reputation. As far as his play calling, I would rather have him line up a 4′ putt than make a call 3rd and goal. I believe Dick LeBeau will leave the DC position and move up if he wants to. If we as fans can see his defense deteriorating he can too. How many of his players are over 30 and have been beat up for many seasons? The drafts haven’t yielded the talent we have become accustomed to. The misses at the 2nd round for the past 20years have been many. A lot of that is due to the teams success having to draft down the list. I’m sure not football savvy enough to fix the problems but I hope there are some masters of the obvious in the front office and especially at the top.

  25. theplanisworking says:

    Whenever there is a change/transfer of ownership, there will always be a period of bad seasons.

    When Mario got the team in 99/2000, there was a good season, then the bottom fell out. Some of that was $$$ related, but it happened.

    When the Pirates changed ownership, there were bad seasons also. Some of this was $$$$, but bad management accounted for some of it also.

    Now, when the Steelers have the ownership transfer to Art (and minority owners coming on board), it is a little different. Players play, coaches coach, owners own……… obviously Art didnt get that message. He meddles in team affairs, and the team is suffering for it. He needs to let his people do their jobs.

    So if Art goes back to the office, Colbert needs to step his game up. Bad drafts, bad signings are catching up with this team. If he isnt up to it, let him go. Same with Tomlin. But they wont go anywhere……….. Colbert because he got the team to 3 SB’s, Tomlin because he was hired by the Rooney Rule.

    So, LeBeau will be sacrificed………. shame. He doesnt have the horses to implement his system. Not his fault, but he will be the first to go. Oh, and for all the people clamoring for the 4-3 Tampa 2 defense, good luck. 4 good D-Linemen, and 2 good CB’s are needed for that defense. Tell me who on the Steelers will be able to fill those spots? If the team switches to a 4-3, it would take 5 years to become successful in it.
    Haley?? He should have never been hired ( thanks Art), so he should have already be gone.

    Lord help this team the rest of the year, and in the offseason. They will need it.

  26. theplanisworking says:

    In regards to DK’s bonus column yesterday on the studpidity of the NHL, that was a great column. I give it an 11/10.

    Listened to the Philthy Flyers postgame show last night. They said there would be no suspensions coming from that knuckle-dragging brawl from Friday against the Caps. I cannot believe I heard that.

    DK — Have you heard anything on this? It seems that someone should get a suspension……… Emery? Downie? If there are no suspensions, your column becomes even greater. Thoughts?

    DK: No one’s getting anything. They claim there’s no rule, no mechanism. That’s demonstrably false. It’s in 28.1 of the NHL Rule Book.

  27. theplanisworking says:

    Thanks DK.

    Looks like the sport, at least at the NHL level is doomed.

    Funny thing is, they dont do this at the Olympics.
    Dont see goons on the roster.

  28. hockeymonster says:

    Solid and reliable defensive positioning…which is something we shouldn’t take for granted. Along with versatility, decent vision and passing ability. Sutter and kobasew didnt finish quite a few chances jeffrey created. Not saying he’s irreplaceable just believe bylsma has overlooked him due to his lack of physicality. And he showed good offensive punch when he had a chance to play before his injury. But now that Vitale has gotten better at not making bad turnovers and taking bad penalties i think bylsma job got tougher picking between the 2. Think of him this way…he’s another sutter on the ice regardless if he’s playing center or wing.

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