Dick LeBeau defended his defense, the object of Warren Sapp’s scorn and derision, after practice on Thursday.
But he didn’t take it easy on his players when asked what happened in the 35-7 loss to the Ravens.
“We’ve got work to do,” the venerable defensive coordinator said. “We helped a team that didn’t need any help. They beat us and we’ve got to do something about that.”
The Steelers sacked Joe Flacco just one time and yielded an astonishing 5.5 yards per carry. LeBeau said it’s not that the Ravens had their way with the Steelers because of a superior game planning or better scheming.
“Looks like they won most of the battles,” LeBeau said, “and that’s what we’re working to fix.”
LeBeau said the Steelers will substitute liberally during the first month or so of the season to keep players fresh. That presumably means Larry Foote will again get some time with the first-team defense Sunday against the Seahawks.
LeBeau said the substitution patterns early in the season are done more with the warmer weather, not the collective age of the defense, in mind. When asked about Sapp saying the Steelers’ defense is old and slow, LeBeau gave his players a vote of confidence.
“It’s like the guy that got up and said ‘This could be the last day of my life,’ ” LeBeau said. “Sooner or later you’re going to be right but they ain’t right yet. We’ll be back.”
— Scott Brown