I admit it. I am an unabashed fan of what Larry Foote meant to this team defensively in 2012. More than what he brought to the table with his athletic skills, this defense desperately misses having its quarterback on the field. After having years of James Farrior and Foote quarterbacking this defense, we have been reduced to not being able to stop a zone read play.
I have said it in previous articles, but it bears repeating: You cannot allow your outside linebacker to sit for the quarterback on the zone read. Someone, either the linebacker or the safety, has to be responsible for the quarterback if he keeps the ball. You will see why in the next clip.
It is important to make a larger point. The Steelers have been forced to sit in their Big Nickel package against one back teams all year. And when I say sit, I mean exactly that. If it is first or second down, and the offense comes out with one back personnel, the Steelers are going to sit in this front. There are many things that you can do defensively to combat the zone read. One option would be to twist the outside linebacker and the defensive end away from the running back. This gives you a good option against either pass or run. The problem is, you cannot predict what the offense is going to line up in. Here the Dolphins use Charles Clay (whose bust they are currently making in Canton) as an H back. They could, and did, have him split out wide.
This is why it is necessary to have someone on defense who can put the defense in the best call against whatever ever is most threatening from the offense. It is the same as Ben Roethlisberger running the no huddle on offense.
Clearly, the Steelers do not currently have that option. For all the talk about the complexity of Dick LeBeau's defense, there has been very little of it in situations like this. Moreover, the Steelers are having a difficult time carrying out their assignments in the base, let alone expanding what they are doing. It is not a good situation to be in.
Speaking of bad situations, once again, you do not want to have your outside linebacker responsible for the QB on zone read.
You simply have to have someone for the cutback. This is a goal line run for a touchdown. Have you ever seen a hole that big on the goal line? Keep in mind, it is not because the Steelers got blown seven yards off the ball. Instead, it is a breakdown of defensive responsibilities. And, it has happened time and time again this year.
If you do not know who Cody Carlson is, then I truly envy you. Charles Clay will now take his place along Carlson's side.
This is a really bad play by Lamarr Woodley. He cannot get blocked like this on a stretch play. His poor play puts the entire defense in a bind. It makes the hole one gap wider and thus makes it harder for Troy Polamalu to get there. But, Troy cannot get cut. He has to make the running back cut back into Cameron Heyward, who actually went around Woodley (yes Woodley was that bad on this play) instead of allowing the running back to get outside of him.
It is difficult to fault Troy too much on this play. After all, he is not a linebacker by trade. Larry Foote is, and we miss him dearly.
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