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Dick LeBeau new Steelers DC - probably not good news for Redskins

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The Steelers won out over the Buffalo Bills in hiring Dick LeBeau as their DC. Its my personal guess that this probably means that Jerry Gray will now be retained as DC for the Bills, which means he wont be coming to the Redskins as a db coach. Its doubtful now that assistant coaches Don Blackmon and Tim Krumrie will either. :( I hope I'm wrong. :(


LeBeau will return as defensive coordinator

Steelers, Cowher win battle against Bills to rehire LeBeau

Friday, January 16, 2004

By Ed Bouchette, Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

After watching five coaches flee over the past week, coach Bill Cowher is ready to replenish his staff, and his first hire likely will be an old one.

It appears Cowher has won the tug of war with Buffalo to hire Dick LeBeau as his defensive coordinator as soon as today. LeBeau, who was defensive coordinator of the Steelers in the 1990s when he was an assistant coach under Cowher for five years, was the subject of intense salesmanship by the Steelers and new Bills coach Mike Mularkey, Cowher's former offensive coordinator.

The Bills have started looking elsewhere for a defensive coordinator and the two other candidates for the Steelers' job have turned to other avenues. Steelers secondary coach Willy Robinson was permitted to resign yesterday to become defensive coordinator of the San Francisco 49ers. Former Bears defensive coordinator Greg Blache, who interviewed with Cowher Wednesday, has set up interviews with Kansas City and with Buffalo.

LeBeau was assistant head coach in Buffalo for one year, helping Bills defensive coordinator Jerry Gray last season. Gray remains a candidate for the job in Buffalo.

Hiring LeBeau, 66, is an important step for Cowher in rebuilding his staff. Not only is LeBeau considered one of the best defensive minds in football, but he also helped devise the system the Steelers put in place when he joined Cowher's first staff in 1992 as secondary coach. LeBeau is the father of the zone blitz, a defensive style he developed with the Cincinnati Bengals in the 1980s. He introduced it to the Steelers' 3-4 alignment, and it became the rage of the 1990s as other teams around the league copied it.

LeBeau, elevated to defensive coordinator in '95, left after the '96 season to join the Bengals as defensive coordinator, where he became head coach. He said he left because he maintained his home in Cincinnati and his son was a senior in high school there and he wanted to be with him.

Cowher fired defensive coordinator Tim Lewis last week.

With LeBeau's hiring, the Steelers likely will have the full complement of defensive coaches under contract despite the departure of Robinson. The Steelers added Darren Perry as an assistant secondary coach last year and will promote him to secondary coach. Perry became the starting free safety for the Steelers in '92 under LeBeau and it was LeBeau who gave him his first job, as coach of the safeties with the Bengals in 2002.

Perry was brought on the staff last season with the idea that Robinson might leave for another job.

LeBeau knew nothing but success in his first stint with the Steelers, who made the playoffs all five seasons in which he worked for them. He also has a son who lives in Pittsburgh, has friendships he developed here and it's closer to his permanent home in Cincinnati, where he traveled frequently while coaching with the Steelers.

"I've always had a special spot in my heart for Pittsburgh and the years I spent here," LeBeau said after his interview Tuesday with Cowher. "If my memory serves me right, we won a couple of games. The people here, the sports fans of Pittsburgh are exceptional, and they were always particularly good to me. It's always been like coming home."

LeBeau told people he wanted the job when he was here early in the week.

"I bring a certain amount of expertise, at least certain experience," he said. "I would look forward to contributing and helping Bill in any way that I could. I think I have some things to add."

The next step for Cowher will be to put his offensive staff in place. He likely will interview some outside candidates for offensive coordinator but the favorite remains Ken Whisenhunt, his tight ends coach. Russ Grimm, who just missed out on the Chicago Bears head coaching job, will remain offensive line coach and probably add a new title so Cowher can give him a promotion.

That would leave three openings, all on offense -- tight ends, quarterbacks and receivers, an opening created when Cowher fired Kenny Jackson last week. Cowher did not have a quarterbacks coach before he added the position and hired Tommy Clements in 2001. Mularkey hired Clements to be his offensive coordinator in Buffalo.

Cowher interviewed two out-of-work coaches for the receivers job the past week, Tyke Tolbert, 35, who coached the Arizona Cardinals receivers last season, and Larry Kirksey, 53, who coached Jacksonville's receivers last

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The vibe that I've been getting from Buffalo sports radio is that if LeBeau remained, that Krumrie would stay and Gray would go, and that if lebeau went, Gray would stay and Krumrie would go.

Don't know how this fits in with Blackmon, however.

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