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Kipper : Is An Outside Linebacker More Important Than The Secondary For The #Steelers?

By Kipper @pghsportsforum
I've been struggling with this mode of thinking for a while. As I've made my Mock Draft, I have often thought about revising it 3-4 times but I keep sticking to my guns with my selections.
One of the biggest questions I keep posing to myself is whether Jarvis Jones is more important to the Pittsburgh Steelers than Kenny Vaccaro. Better yet, whether the strength of the Steelers going forward in a Pass Happy NFL is stocking their Secondary with better talent than they have in years past.
In 2012, the Steelers posted some of their worst Pass Rushing numbers in recent memories. The Steelers Defense simply didn't get to the Quarterback. James Harrison was a shell of his former self, Lamarr Woodley was often injured. Larry Foote isn't going to create pressure, he's more likely to get a sack from coverage.. There were a lot of reasons the Steelers did post a lot of sacks but another thing that the Steelers didn't do a lot of last year was - Blitz.
Remember Blitzburgh? Those zone blitz packages weren't dialed up much last year. You didn't see Troy Polamalu (when he played), blitzing like in years past, he was playing Safety probably more than we have been used to. The Steelers in 2012, altered their Defensive Philosophies. There's people out there that like to whine and complain about Dick LeBeau not willing to "change" but over the past 2 seasons, Dick LeBeau's philosophies have changed. This is a Defense that is Defensing the pass more than worrying about creating pressure on the QB. It's a page from the New York Giants playbook against the Patriots in both Super Bowls. The front 4 of the Giants always got more credit than they shoud've received when it was the Giants dropping 7-8 into coverage and giving Tom Brady nobody to throw to. If Brady doesn't get the ball out in 3-5 seconds, he's toast but you need to cover his WR/TE/RB combinations because he can get a ball into tight coverage.
The Steelers started changing philosophies in 2011 when the Defensive Secondary was getting torched in the first half of the season, then came the New England Patriots and the Defense shut down Brady. They didn't do it with the same old failed concepts like blitzing and front 4-7 pressure, they did it by rushing 3-4 and dropping 6-7 into coverage. They blanketed Wes Welker, took away the Tight Ends and underneath RB option. The Steelers hung Safeties deep, covered the middle and played man with over the top help on the outside. The steelers continued playing this way the rest of the 2011 season until they were upset in Denver simply because ike Taylor was exposed as a guy that can't cover man laterally. He was burnt one on one in much the same way that he was burnt by Larry Fitzgerald in Super Bowl XLIII. Fast Forward to 2013, Dick LeBeau still gave Ike Taylor more credit for being able to cover in man situations than he should've. Now, Ike was unable to cover man vertically. He was committing penalties left and right because.. well.. because Ike Taylor is old and at the age of 32-33, doesn't have the speed and quickness of Wide Receivers in their 20's and Primes of their careers. Dick LeBeau adjusted however, he started putting Troy Polamalu or Will Allen deep to help Ike over the top. We started seeing a lot more Nickel and Dime packages against. On obvious passing situations, the Steelers weren't dialing up massive Blitzes, they were forcing incompletions.
This brings us to this draft. The philosophy on Defense appears to be shifting towards more of a coverage defense. Against a lot of NFL passing, this makes sense. Defense are slowly evolving and changing to the Offenses. This is the way it's been since days of Air Coryell. It's my personal belief that if the Steeleras draft Kenny Vaccaro he might not see a starting Safety position for years. The Steelers are hurting for impact starters for 2013. Say what we want rigt now about Ryan Clark and Troy Polamalu, but when helathy last season, in this coverage role, they did a good job. This isn't a weakness for the Steelers, except that both are old and entering their decline years. Kevin Colbert seems to think everyone can play until they're 40 years so this certainly isn't a concern to the Front Office. I started to think however, if Vaccaro doesn't start at safety, he could see a lot of time in Nickel and Dime packages that the Steelers seem to be playing more. I'm not big William Gay fan, but as a Slot CB in passing situations, he's a good options, a better option than a lot of teams have. Add Kenny Vaccaro to the mix and suddenly you have a pretty decent secondary (it would be a great secondary if Keenan Lewis were kept and Ike Taylor was sent packing).
That leaves Jarvis Jones. The guy is a stud. He fills a position we have a big hole in. He improves our pass rush but is his value in this Defense greater than Kenny Vaccaro's? Do we need a OLB in the first round to fill that position when one in the 2nd or 3rd round could do the job admirably or maybe just as well for what the Steelers defensive philosophy is calling for these days? That's the question I've been struggling with and with the way the NFL has evolved into a Passing league and Defenses are now finding ways to try and counter that, time is going to tell

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