Dick Lebeau's Defensive Approach vs. the Patriots, and My Bowling Style. What a Difference a Year Makes

I've been bowling on a fairly regular basis for about three years now, but it wasn't until about a year ago at this time that I started to really get into the sport. In addition to my league bowling, I also started practicing more and sought out credible advice from people who knew what they were talking about. I even went online to find some answers, and that's how I finally discovered that there are actual fundamentals involved with things like where you stand for various spare pick-ups.

I was excited about my newly acquired knowledge and tried to utilize it in my league games. Just from knowing where to stand for spares, I started to put up better scores, and my low average started to climb, even if just a little.

On November 14th, my league had its Fall playoff tournament, and I was really excited and confident about putting on a good performance in the postseason. I had been putting up some decent scores (at least for me) and just knew I would do the same in the playoffs.

Well, unfortunately, I crapped out in my game and only put up a 115. I felt good and confident, but the bowling ball just wouldn't do what I wanted it to do. My teammates put up much better scores than I did, but they weren't good enough to carry my low number, and we didn't advance to the second round.

November 14th, 2010 was also the date of the infamous Steelers/Patriots match-up on a Sunday Night at Heinz Field. It was on that night that Tom Brady shredded the Steelers defense and made Dick Lebeau's legendary zone blitz scheme look totally ineffective.

Dick Lebeau is a Hall of Famer, he had a great career as a defensive back and has had an even better career as a defensive coordinator.

His Steelers' defenses almost always rank pretty high in every statistical category, and if a quarterback has a weakness, Lebeau will find a way to exploit it.

Unfortunately, when it comes to Tom Brady and other elite quarterbacks in the NFL, they don't have very many weaknesses and normally give defenses fits, even Lebeau's great Steelers' defenses.

There is no shame in that. Sometimes in sports, a great talent will have the number of another great talent.

Dick Lebeau has been the defensive coordinator on four different Super Bowl teams in his career. Obviously, he doesn't have to drastically change his approach just because there are a few people out there who match-up well with what he likes to do.

However, great football minds like Dick Lebeau are always trying to tweak what they do, that's part of what makes them great. Heading into this past Sunday's showdown with the Patriots, there was rightfully great concern that Lebeau's traditional defensive approach of having his corners play off the receivers just wouldn't get it done against Tom Brady because taking the underneath stuff is Brady's greatest strength.

Well, Tom Brady might be one of the greatest quarterbacks of all-time and will certainly be in the Hall of Fame whenever his time comes, but Dick Lebeau is already there, and he showed the football world why on Sunday by having his corners play up on the receivers and totally disrupting their routes. Brady was thrown off his game and only threw for a very pedestrian 198 yards, and the Steelers won, 25-17.

There is no shame in that, Tom Brady. Sometimes in sports, a great talent will have the number of another great talent.

I found it fitting that I had the greatest bowling match of my life right as the Steelers were finishing up their dominance over New England Sunday evening.

Between November 14th last year and October 30th this year, I drastically changed my bowling technique. I used to have this funky approach where I looked like a martial artist about to do battle. And my delivery? Think curling. It was certainly unique and a little bizarre, but I somehow made the most of it. However, the problem was I wasn't improving as much as I wanted to.

My delivery was too slow and not fundamentally sound. I was at the mercy of various lane conditions. Knowing where to stand for your spares isn't going to do you any good if your delivery is too funky.

Earlier this year, I decided I had had enough of the sub 100 games and decided to stop bowling like Bruce Lee. Almost immediately, my scores started to improve, and my average increased.

I then stopped being so stubborn about using heavier bowling balls. My uncle once told me, "you need to use at least a 14 pound ball." When I asked him why, he said, "because you're a freakin man, for one thing!"

About halfway through this season, I started using a 15 pound ball, and that, along with my more traditional approach and delivery, made a world of difference.

This past Sunday evening, I bowled a 548 series. That's certainly not professional level bowling, but I've heard many great bowlers discuss their many 600 matches. Therefore, I must be headed in the right direction.

Now don't misunderstand, in bowling circles, I'm certainly no Dick Lebeau. I'd say I'm more like William Gay (before this season) or Jeff Reed (after the 2009 parking lot "incident") or Charlie Whitehurst (always). I'm not elite, and I doubt I will ever make the bowling Hall of Fame.

But it takes a lot to throw pride out the window and change your ways. If a Hall of Fame defensive coordinator can do it, so can I.

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