The Pittsburgh Steelers have been a 3-4 base defense team for a very long time, but with a new defensive coordinator come new ideas and changes, as the team will show a lot more 4-3 base defense looks in the 2015 NFL Season.
Dick LeBeau, who has been the DC for the last 11 seasons (and also has time with the team in different roles during he 1990’s) and part of Two Super Bowl victories, went off to help the Tennessee Titans get out of the rut they’re in. The Steelers promoted Keith Butler, who has been the linebacker coach under LeBeau and working on the Steelers staff since 2003.
In their first two preseason games they showed a 4-3 base defense, but that doesn’t mean they’re abandoning the 3-4. They’re simply taking advantage of their players’ versatility, and trying to keep opponents guessing.
We’re going to have both. We’re going to have the 3-4, we’re going to have the 4-3. We’re going to have things that we feel will give people problems. We’re going to use our personnel to get some mismatches if we can. Offenses are going to do that to us. They’re going to try to do the same thing.
The Steelers have used the 4-3 in the past when playing in Nickel package, with the nose tackle coming off the field in favor of an extra defensive back while lining up the outside linebackers next to both defensive ends, who act as tackles in that scheme.
But in their new 4-3 base defense, keeps the nose tackle on the field, shifts one of the outside linebackers to defensive end and stacks the other three linebackers behind the line. This might be done mainly to utilize the pass-rushing talents of inside linebackers Lawrence Timmons or Ryan Shazier on the outside. With just 77 sacks over the last two seasons for the Steelers, improving that aspect of their defense might be a refreshing and positive change.