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    Default Zone-blitz masterminds to scheme for Super Bowl supremacy

    Zone-blitz masterminds to scheme for Super Bowl supremacy By Steve Wyche NFL.com
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    Published: Jan. 30, 2011 at 09:27 p.m. Updated: Jan. 30, 2011 at 12:38 a.m. Liked: 2 | Comments: 3 Email Like Print Read Discuss

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    DALLAS -- The evolution of the "zone blitz" has led us to the now, a showcase meeting between two of the masterminds who have helped shape the highly effective and widely copied scheme all the way to the biggest game possible.

    Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers and Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau, former roommates who worked together during the "Blitzburgh" era of the Steelers in the early and mid-1990s, will square off here on Sunday in Super Bowl XLV, or in their vernacular, Super Bowl 3-4.

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    » Inventors of zone blitz square off
    "We're friends. We're definitely friends," LeBeau said about meeting Capers in the Super Bowl. "(We're) two defensive coaches, two Ohio boys, and we like to pressure the quarterback."

    That they do. The relationship between Capers and LeBeau, their cunning and their years of poaching each other's ideas, could lead to some of the more creative looks we've seen out of the system. Under the coordination of Capers and LeBeau, it's a system that's tried and true with players who can execute it and coaches who can coach it. To the latter point, Capers could have a slight edge seeing as how two of his top assistants with Green Bay -- secondary coach Darren Perry and outside linebackers coach Kevin Greene -- played on those Blitzburgh defenses that keyed a run to the AFC title game in 1994, and in Perry's case, the Super Bowl in 1996.

    "Very unique guy when you look at what he's done and what that defense has done," Capers said of LeBeau. "They've been the standard bearer really of the defense. If you look at him over the last 18, 19 years and probably put their collective stats together, I don't think anybody can compare with him."

    Added LeBeau: "He's been a success everywhere he's been. I'm one of his biggest fans."

    The bouquets are loaded with not only friendship, but truth. The Steelers' identity has been their defense, which means their identity has been LeBeau. Pittsburgh finished second in total defense (276.8 yards per game) this season, first in rushing defense (62.8 yards per game) and first in scoring defense (14.5 points per game). It's not out of the ordinary for the Steelers to be in those zip codes or to have some of the NFL's top players -- Troy Polamalu, LaMarr Woodley and James Harrison -- leading the charge.

    It's the same way things were 16 seasons ago when Rod Woodson, Gregg Lloyd and Greene were ruining offenses through creative blitz packages. Those offenses struggled because linemen were dropping into coverage, outside linebackers turned into rush ends and cornerbacks and safeties masked what they intended to do. At that time, it was Capers who was the defensive coordinator while LeBeau -- fresh off being fired by the Cincinnati Bengals in his only head-coaching stint -- was the defensive backs coach.

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    The intrigue now is that the Packers are built in the same mold as Pittsburgh and generating similar results. Green Bay was fifth this season in total defense (309.1 yards per game), fifth in passing defense (194.2 yards per game) and second in scoring defense (15.0 points per game). They forced 32 regular-season turnovers to Pittsburgh's 35. In the postseason, Green Bay has generated eight turnovers (six interceptions) to four for Pittsburgh.

    "I'm sure we both follow each other's teams in terms of statistics because we've been very close and competing with each other the whole year statistically," Capers said. "I always like to look at the Pittsburgh defense. They probably do the same with ours."

    They aren't mirror images, however. The Packers secondary -- particularly the cornerbacks -- is more productive, while the Steelers' linebackers form arguably the most fearsome unit in the NFL. Each defense has its own style, but those styles come from the minds of two men who can create from the same baseline they helped set in motion together years ago.

    For instance, Green Bay's decisive touchdown in the NFC Championship Game came on an 18-yard interception return by nose tackle B.J. Raji, who had dropped into coverage and sniped a pass thrown by unsuspecting Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie. Capers and LeBeau could take some credit for the creativity of designing the high-risk, high-reward call of dropping a 325-pound defensive lineman into coverage. Each shared and obliged suggestions when they were figuring this thing out back in the day.

    "Things evolved and grew as we went along," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis, Pittsburgh's linebackers coach with Capers and LeBeau. "The thing about it is the ability for Dom as the coordinator to recognize the impact that we could have with (the zone blitz). Dick had used various components of it in previous stops. Bill (Cowher) as the head coach, put his stamp of approval on it and allowed us to take it and run with it.

    "When we put it together, then it was our ability to coach the players in the nuances of what we were trying to get done and make sure we kept moving forward that way."

    Capers is quick to point out the main difference between the defenses in Pittsburgh and Green Bay.

    "We're in our second year here running the defense," Capers said. "They've been running pretty close to the same defense since '92. So they've drafted for it. One of the great things about the stability of that organization is that defense probably hasn't changed a whole lot, other than new little things. We're still evolving. We do a lot of things to try to fit to what we think our talent can do."

    Lewis says it is Capers who designed most of the components of the 3-4 and the zone blitz, but LeBeau who helped design the coverages, which in turn led to a meeting of the minds regarding the blitz packages. So much was involved that synchronicity at all levels of the defense was paramount to make it work.


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    They made it work then, and the Packers and Steelers make it work now.

    "The biggest thing with Dick was the refinement of the coverage; how we were going to play coverage, adjust things and so forth between the DBs and linebackers or replacement defensive linemen," Lewis said. "It's being able to make those adjustments and tighten the coverage down and get the things out of it to use it to our advantage."

    According to Lewis, one of the keys of the zone blitz is having cerebral players to make it work. On those Steelers teams he helped coach with LeBeau and Capers, one of the smartest was Greene, the nasty outside linebacker who is now coaching a near clone of himself in Clay Matthews. Lewis can see much of what Greene was taught now being used with the Packers' outside linebackers. Greene, who played in Pittsburgh from 1993-'95, has only coached for two seasons but is a disciple of Capers. He followed Capers to Carolina for part of Capers' four-season stint (1995-98) as head coach.

    "Kevin came to training camp and worked with us (in Cincinnati) in 2005," Lewis said. "You knew he wanted to be a coach as soon as his kids got to the age where he could feel good about the time you spend coaching. He's made that progression and transition."

    Follow Steve Wyche on Twitter @wyche89.
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    Default Re: Zone-blitz masterminds to scheme for Super Bowl supremacy

    It's the same way things were 16 seasons ago when Rod Woodson, Gregg Lloyd and Greene were ruining offenses through creative blitz packages. Those offenses struggled because linemen were dropping into coverage, outside linebackers turned into rush ends and cornerbacks and safeties masked what they intended to do. [HIGH-LIGHT]At that time, it was Capers who was the defensive coordinator while LeBeau -- fresh off being fired by the Cincinnati Bengals in his only head-coaching stint [/HIGH-LIGHT]-- was the defensive backs coach.
    Seriously? this ******bag was probably paid money to write this Article and he couldn't do any research?

    Lebeau didn't become the Headcoach of the Bengals until the turn of the millenium long after Dom Capers had gone to coach Head Coach the Carolina Panthers.

    LeBeau was fired along with the entire Cincinnati Bengals coaching staff after the 1991 season after Mike Brown took over the Bengals franchise from his old man and started running it completely into the ground with it's minimal success since this point. Bill Cowher then hired LeBeau to be part of his Defensive staff under Dom Capers. Capers left the Steelers prior to the 1995 super bowl season in which LeBeau was promoted back to Defensive Coordinator which is what he was under Sam Wyche and the Bengals during the 80's and early 90's
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    Default Re: Zone-blitz masterminds to scheme for Super Bowl supremacy

    Lewis says it is Capers who designed most of the components of the 3-4 and the zone blitz, but LeBeau who helped design the coverages, which in turn led to a meeting of the minds regarding the blitz packages. So much was involved that synchronicity at all levels of the defense was paramount to make it work.


    I found this Quote interesting and a bit confusing as well. Dom Capers prior to becoming the DC for the Steelers was just a DB coach for a Saints defense that was known mainly for their Linebackers - The Dome Patrol. That was a defense lead by Steve Sidwell but designed by Jim Mora when he was with the New England Patriots. More had stops before being the Defensive Coordinator at new England in the early 1980's and I'm not sure he goes back any further to any other coaching tree. He just picked up and ran a simple 3-4 with a bad *** Linebacking corpse.

    LeBeau prior to come to the steelers was the Bengals Defensive coordinator since 1984 and has always been considered the architect of the Zone blitz Defense that he designed with Sam Wyche who was well versed in the West Coast offense being a disciple of Bill Walsh to design something to slow down and beat the 3-4. Now.... Cowher ran the "original" 3-4 scheme he learned while under Shotenneheimer. Schottenheimer was a protege of Sam Rutgliano who learned the 3-4 from Chuck Fairbanks as an Assistant under Fairbanks in the 70's with the Patriots. I wanna say that the Dolphins of the 70's were the first to use the 3-4, but it was Fairbanks who brought the true and original 3-4 from Oklahoma where it all began and that version of the 3-4 is what is seen now more than what the Dolphins used. The coaching tree from here is ridiculous because Ray Perkins comes from here and that's where Bill Belichick comes form and Belichick is the one that created more of the hybrid 3-4 with the Giants during the 80's using Lawrence Taylor almost like how we use Lamarr Woodley and James Harrison as either a 3-4 and 4-3.

    So I think this is pretty much incorrect by Marvin Lewis. The Zone blitz was LeBeau's. The 3-4 base that we ran and still do today is pretty much Bill Cowher's which roots back to the mid 70's and original architects of it from the 1940's. I don't really know if there's much that can really be said is or was "Dom Capers' ". Perhaps the way that the Linebackers are deployed coming from the Saints with that awesome Linebacking group. I'm sure Capers, LeBeau and Cowher stewed together to bring all of the different aspects together to create what we have now but the bases of it (3-4 defense and zone blitz) are really Cowher and LeBeau
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    Default Re: Zone-blitz masterminds to scheme for Super Bowl supremacy

    Kerry J. Byrne>COLD HARD FOOTBALL FACTS
    More ColumnsEmail Kerry J. Byrne
    Pass defense wins championships, as Steelers, Packers proving

    Story Highlights
    Green Bay and Pittsburgh ranked 1-2 in Defensive Passer Rating
    Throughout NFL history, the best teams have been able to frustrate QBs
    The Packers of the '60s and the Steelers of the '70s excelled at DPR


    The cliché is "Defense wins championships." But it really should be "Pass defense wins championships."

    The NFL is all about the passing game. And it always has been, at least since the dawn of the T-formation in the 1940s, which made the quarterback the centerpiece of the offense.

    Great offenses are those that pass effectively. And great defenses are those that make life hell on opposing quarterbacks. You can talk about "establishing the run" and "stopping the run" all you want, but history proves it's all about the passing game.

    Super Bowl XLV provides plenty of evidence. You already know Green Bay and Pittsburgh boast great, efficient, productive passers. Aaron Rodgers is the highest-rated passer in NFL history (98.4). Ben Roethlisberger is far more prolific than anybody gives him credit for: he's No. 5 in career average per attempt (8.04) and No. 8 in career passer rating (92.5), just one spot ahead of -- gasp! -- Joe Montana (92.3) on the all-time list.

    But more importantly, both teams dominate on pass defense, too -- especially when measured by what we call Defensive Passer Rating, perhaps the most important indicator in football. We simply apply the formula used to rate quarterbacks to pass defense. It has an incredibly high correlation to team success.

    Throughout history, teams that dominate in Defensive Passer Rating dominate on the field. The Steelers and Packers continue the trend.

    Pittsburgh was No. 1 this year this year in scoring defense (14.5). Green Bay was No. 2 (15.0 PPG).

    Green Bay, meanwhile, was No. 1 in Defensive Passer Rating (67.2) -- in other words, quarterbacks combined to post a humble 67.2 passer rating against the Pack this year. Pittsburgh was No. 2 in Defensive Passer Rating (73.8)

    Their effectiveness on run defense, meanwhile, varied widely. Pittsburgh surrendered just 3.01 yards per attempt on the ground this year. That effort was spectacular: the fifth-best run defense in the Super Bowl Era.

    Green Bay against the run? The Packers, to steal one of this postseason's most famous lines, "couldn't stop a nose bleed." They surrendered 4.64 ypa on the ground this year. Only four defenses were worse against the run.

    The common denominator between the league's two stingiest defenses was an ability to frustrate opposing quarterbacks. Just look at this year's final four: Green Bay No. 1 in Defensive Passer Rating; Pittsburgh No. 2; Chicago No. 3 (74.4); and N.Y. Jets No. 6 (77.1).

    Notice a trend? By the way, only three defenses this year boasted more interceptions than touchdown passes allowed. Two of them are in the Super Bowl. The other was Chicago -- a team which, if it had a healthy quarterback, might be playing in Dallas instead of the Packers.

    But here's the most compelling part: The dynastic histories of both the Packers and Steelers prove the importance of the passing game in general and Defensive Passer Rating in particular.

    The 1960s Packers paired a consistently great pass defense with Bart Starr, the highest-rated passer in postseason history. The result of great passing offense and great passing defense was an unprecedented five NFL championships (and two Super Bowl victories) in seven years.

    The Packers led the NFL in Defensive Passer Rating in 1962 (43.4), 1965 (48.2), 1966 (46.1) and 1967 (41.5). They won NFL titles all four seasons. They finished second in Defensive Passer Rating in 1961, their first championship year of the Lombardi Era.

    The 1970s Steelers paired a consistently great pass defense with Terry Bradshaw, one of the great big-game gunslingers of all time. Bradshaw averaged a mind-boggling 11.1 ypa in the Super Bowl. The result was an unprecedented four Super Bowl victories in six years.

    The Steelers led the NFL in Defensive Passer Rating in 1972 (47.0). It's no coincidence that the 1972 season was highlighted by the very first postseason victory in franchise history (the Immaculate Reception win over the Raiders).

    The 1973 Steelers were even stingier, with a 33.1 Defensive Passer Rating -- the best pass defense in modern history.

    Quarterbacks could do nothing against Mean Joe Greene & Co. that year: completing just 46 percent of their passes with 11 TDs and an incredible 37 interceptions. The 1973 Super Bowl champion Dolphins, by the way, were No. 2 in Defensive Passer Rating (39.9) and allowed just five touchdown passes all year (against 21 picks). Wow! Times have changed.

    But Pittsburgh struggled to pass the ball well on offense in 1973 (Bradshaw played poorly) and the season ended with a playoff loss to the Raiders.

    So the Steelers stocked up in the passing game in 1974 with the greatest draft class of all time. They added Hall of Fame receivers John Stallworth and Lynn Swann on offense, and Hall of Fame linebacker Jack Lambert on defense. Pittsburgh was off to the races, led by a Steel Curtain defense that consistently made life tough for quarterbacks.

    The Steelers led the NFL in Defensive Passer Rating in 1974 (44.3) and 1979 (56.4) and were high among the league leaders in 1975 (42.8) and 1978 (51.8). They won Super Bowls all four years.

    The 1960s Packers and 1970s Steelers, believe it or not, were not particularly stout against the run year to year. But they were always dominant on pass defense.

    Now take a look at Bill Walsh's 49ers of the 1980s and 1990s. These teams are truly misunderstood. Walsh is remembered for popularizing the so-called West Coast offense and reinventing the modern passing game into the one of low risk/high efficiency that we know today. But Walsh's true genius is that he quietly created the longest-lasting defensive dynasty of all time -- a dynasty of pass defense that bookended the team's on-field dominance perfectly. And nobody knows it, because the defense was overshadowed by the offensive fireworks of Joe Montana, Roger Craig, Jerry Rice, Steve Young and company.

    During a 17-season period of greatness from 1981 to 1997, the 49ers never surrendered 300 points in a single year. Not once.

    The Steelers are the closest thing we have to a contemporary defensive dynasty. But they surrendered more than 300 points in 2006 (315) and again just last year (324). The 49ers went nearly two decades without allowing opponents to top 300. (Keep in mind that scoring, on average, was just as high in the 1980s and 1990s as it was in the 2000s).

    And what did the 49ers consistently do well? That's right: they consistently frustrated opposing passers and consistently posted an incredible Defensive Passer Rating.

    The 49ers were dead last in Defensive Passer Rating in 1980 (95.7, an abysmal number). They went 6-10 as a result in what was the second year for both Walsh and his young quarterback, Montana. Walsh saw the problem with the team and went all in on defensive backs in the 1981 draft. His 1981 team famously started three rookies in the secondary: Carlton Williamson, Eric Wright and the team's future Hall of Fame No. 1 draft pick, cornerback Ronnie Lott.

    The results were immediate and dramatic: the 49ers improved by an incredible 35.5 points in Defensive Passer Rating in the space of a single season, from 95.7 in 1980 to 60.2 in 1981.

    The result was a 13-3 record, San Francisco's first championship and the birth of a two-decade dynasty in which the 49ers consistently paired a productive quarterback with an elite pass defense. The dynasty officially ended in 1999 -- the year the team went 4-12 and surrendered a 99.8 Defensive Passer Rating. It was San Francisco's worst team since 1980. It was San Francisco's worst Defensive Passer Rating since 1980, too.

    The Packers and the Steelers continue to prove the singular importance of pass defense today. In fact, no matter who wins Super Bowl XLV, we'll be able to use the new cliché, "Pass defense wins championships."

    ColdHardFootballFacts.com is dedicated to cutting-edge analysis and to the "gridiron lifestyle" of beer, food and football. Follow them on Twitter and Facebook. E-mail comments to siwriters@simail.com



    Read more: http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2011/w ... z1CdHkW1f9

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    Default Re: Zone-blitz masterminds to scheme for Super Bowl supremacy

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