Coaching The Main Reason For Pittsburgh's Super Bowl Victories
The Pittsburgh Steelers have won two Super Bowls in the past four seasons. Not quite as dominant as the glory days of Chuck Noll, but awfully close.
All of the above are worthy of the glory, but the real reason for the Steelers' success is not found in the huddle. It is rarely mentioned in newspapers, blogs or sports talk radio.
The main factor in Pittsburgh's ascent back to greatness is an iron-willed, determined coaching staff full of savvy veterans of the NFL wars.
Four names stand out: head coach Mike Tomlin, defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, and quarterback coach Ken Anderson.
Start with the steam that drives the Steeler engine, Dick LeBeau.
Pittsburgh is a franchise steeped in tradition, especially the defensive kind. From the Steel Curtain to the Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene sack attack, the Steelers whole identity as a franchise revolves around aggressive, defensive football.
LeBeau, in his second stint as coordinator, has kept the tradition going strong.
The originator of the "zone blitz" scheme, LeBeau's defense was the best in the league in 2008, and James Harrison was voted NFL Defensive Player of the Year as well.
LeBeau's charges surrendered a paltry 13.9 points per game, and even more impressive, gave up only 19 total touchdowns all season.
LeBeau has been an NFL coach for 35 years, starting with the Philadelphia Eagles in 1973. He was head coach of the Cincinnati Bengals from 2000-02. His first stint with the Steelers lasted from 1992-96. He was also a pro-bowl cornerback who finished his career with 62 interceptions, seventh most in NFL history.
The defense is the heart and soul of this team and LeBeau is the driving force. His players love him and would run through a wall of fire if he told them to.
On the offensive side of the ball, Bruce Arians and Ken Anderson have been instrumental in the development of Roethlisberger and the gradual change to a more pass oriented offense.
Arians has been with the Steelers since 2004 and became offensive coordinator in 2007 with the departure of Ken Whisenhut to Arizona. The 31-year coaching vet has been coordinator of the Browns (2001-03) and head coach at Temple (1982-88). He was also quarterbacks coach for the Indianapolis Colts from 1998-2000, and was a key figure in the growth of another stud QB, Peyton Manning.
Anderson, who played for the Bengals from 1971-86, was one of the best quarterbacks of the seventies and should be in the Hall of Fame. His 32,838 passing yards and 197 touchdowns are still Cincinnati team records.
He came to Pittsburgh from Jacksonville in 2007 and in his first year as QB coach, helped produce record-breaking results for Big Ben.
In his first year with the Steelers, Anderson helped Roethlisberger have one of his most productive seasons, finishing with a team record 32 TD passes and a QB rating of 104.1. Roethlisberger was elected to the first Pro Bowl of his career in 2007.
Last but certainly not least is Tomlin.
Question marks spread throughout Steeler Nation when an unknown Tomlin was hired as head coach in 2007.
The questions were quickly answered.
Tomlin is a players coach, cut from the same cloth as Noll and Bill Cowher. His aggressive style of coaching and rapport with the players was learned at the feet of Tony Dungy, Monte Kiffin and John Gruden in Tampa Bay. He's a combination of Cowher's intensity and Dungy's respect for the players.
The results speak for themselves: a 25-11 record, two AFC North titles and Super Bowl XLIII champions. He surrounded himself with a great coaching staff, but Tomlin is the mortar that holds the whole foundation together.
Give credit to the Rooney's for adhering to a philosophy that Noll brought to a struggling franchise in 1969 and turned them into the team of the seventies. Noll's fingerprints have been on the Steelers since and Cowher and Tomlin have kept this hard-nosed style of football going strong.
Yes, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a great defense and yes, they have Big Ben. But if you want to know the real reason for the team's success, look no further than the amazing coaching staff the Rooney's have put together.
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