Dick LeBeau's Pittsburgh Steelers Defense vs. the Cleveland Browns

This Bye week has really bored the poo out of me.  Maybe this week has been made worse by the loss to the Ravens and the subsequent barrage of their fans equating the game to a SB victory.  It is time to switch focus and move on to face the Browns, who have a lot of injury issues at QB.  The issue is so extreme that they are considering starting a rookie QB against a very strong defense.  I feel sorry for Colt McCoy, but I also hope we are not surprised and forced to eat the proverbial chip on his shoulder.

Anyway, Dick LeBeau officially took the reigns of Steelers Defensive Coordinator in 2004, after brief stints in Cincinnati and Buffalo as the DC/Head Coach and Assistant Coach, respectively.  Prior to moving to Cincinnati, Coach Dad spent 2 years as the DC in Pittsburgh from 1995-1996.  Therefore, I will look at his years as the Steelers DC against the Browns, '95-'96 and '04-'09.  Oops, no '96...I forgot the Browns got Mayflowered by Baltimore.

In his career as the Defensive Coordinator of the Pittsburgh Steelers, LeBeau has faced the Browns 14 times.  Amazingly, the Steelers have a 13-1 record in those 14 games.  In other words, LeBeau owns the Browns.  Now let's take a look at some of the defensive totals and averages:

Category Total Average / Game
Points 134 9.6
Total Yards 3161 225.8
Pass Yards 2095 149.6
Rush Yards
1066 76.1


Those are some unbelievable numbers.  Under LeBeau, the Steelers defense has absolutely smothered the Browns offense.  Another interesting fact is that the Steelers faced more new starting QBs (8) than starting running backs (5) in that time.  At QB, LeBeau has seen Quinn, DA, Gradkowski, Frye, Dilfer, Garcia, Eric Zeir, and Testaverde and at starting RB he has faced Chris Jennings, J. Lewis, Droughns, Lee Suggs, and Leroy Hoard.  To put that in perspective, the Steelers had only Roethlisberger, Batch, and O'Donnell start at QB in those games.  Keep in mind, the points average only includes points the defense surrendered.  Kick/Punt/Interception/Fumble returns for Touchdowns do not count.  If you included those, however, the Steelers still only allowed 12.1 points per game.

Now let's take a look at how the Steelers defense per game did in comparison to Cleveland's offensive averages per year.  In other words we will compare their yearly offensive yardage averages to what they produced against the Steelers (obviously, I will take our numbers out of their yearly averages):


Total Yards Points Pass Yards Rush Yards
Game Date Year Avg vs. Pit Diff. Year Avg vs. Pit Diff. Year Avg vs. Pit Diff. Year Avg vs. Pit Diff.
1 11/13/1995 335.9 120 -215.9 19.2 3 -16.2 240.9 43 -197.9 95 77 -18
2 11/26/1995 335.9 253 -82.9 19.2 17 -2.2 240.9 178 -62.9 95 75 -20
3 10/10/2004 282
305 23
16 -1.4 175.5 207 31.5 106.5 98 -8.5
4 11/14/2004 282
228 -54 17.4
10 -7.4 175.5 160 -15.5 106.5 68 -38.5
5 11/13/2005 290.1
303 12.9
21 5.9 191.6 242 50.4 98.5 61 -37.5
6 12/24/2005 290.1 186 -104.1 15.1
0 -15.1 191.6 123 -68.6 98.5 63 -35.5
7 11/19/2006 259.8
302 42.2
6 -9.1 172.8 203 30.2 87 99 12
8 12/7/2006 259.8
294 34.2 15.1
7 -8.1 172.8 276 103.2 87 18 -69
9 9/9/2007 374.1
221 -153.1 26.2
7 -19.2 244.9 175 -69.9 129.2 46 -83.2
10 11/11/2007 374.1
163 -211.1 26.2
21 -5.2 244.9 123 -121.9 129.2 40 -89.2
11 9/14/2008 260.8
208 -52.8 16.1
6 -10.1 157.5 155 -2.5 103.3 53 -50.3
12 12/28/2008 260.8 126 -134.8 16.1 0 -16.1 157.5 20 -137.5 103.3 106 2.7
13 10/18/2009 265.1
197 -68.1 15.6
7 -8.6 134.7 106 -28.7 130.4 91 -39.4
14 12/10/2009 265.1
255 -10.1
13 -2.6 134.7 84 -50.7 130.4 171 40.6


Again, unbelievable numbers here from LeBeau's defense.  In 14 games in 4 categories (56 differentials) the Steelers defense only lost the battle 12 times, a 78.8 winning percentage.  Clearly, a big reason for our domination of the Browns in recent history can be accredited to LeBeau's defense.  Most notably, the Browns offense only once  scored more than their season average against us (return touchdowns were removed).  Additionally, we can see that in these 14 games they have only allowed the Browns to rush over 100 yards twice and have allowed zero 100 yard performances by an individual.  Just as impressive is the fact that they have yielded zero 300 yard passing games and three times kept them under 100 yards in the air. In all of these games, the Steelers allowed 149.6 yards passing per game and 76.1 rushing yards per game for a total of 225.8 total yards per game.  The yards per attempt, as you can imagine, are pretty poor too.  The Browns have averaged 5.0 yards per pass attempt and just 3.4 yards per rush attempt against LeBeau's schemes.

Of course, there is a lot more to defense than just yards and points, so let's take a look at some of the other numbers our defense put up in those 14 games.  Browns quarterbacks were only able to complete a measly 48.6% of their passes when facing LeBeau's D  Even better than that, only 2 QBs had over an 80 QB Rating and none had above 90.  A big contributor to that is the fact that the Steelers garnered 39 sacks (2.8 per game) and had 15 interceptions (about 1 per game).  To add to those turnovers, the defense also forced 15 fumbles for a total of 30 turnovers (2.1 per game).  The only game in that span without a turnover was the lone loss.

As you can see, these numbers do not lie.  Dick LeBeau defensive 3-4 scheme has completely confused the Browns as long as he has been with Pittsburgh.  To put it more bluntly, his defense has tyrannized the Browns offense.  If the Browns do intend to start a rookie QB against this defense, I feel really bad for him.  I could look up the numbers of rookie QBs against Coach Dad's defense, but that is a post for another day.

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