Cam heyward talks keith butler and daniel mccullers – steelers depot

One of the most friendly people with the media, and someone who isn’t afraid to speak his mind, Cam Heyward sat down for a fantastic interview with Steelers. com’s Missi Matthews. They covered a ton of topics, go check out the full, five-minute clip at the link here (Part 2 will be out Wednesday). Always one to deflect, Heyward immediately jumped to the team when Matthews asked him to evaluate the 2015 from a personal level. “I don’t really grade myself personally. I’d rather do it as a group


or a team setting because we could have all the individuals stats but if we don’t accomplish those goals as team, then those become secondary.” Of course, anyone not named Heyward realizes he had a tremendous year, finishing with seven sacks and a forced fumble while being one of the defensive leaders.

He was more receptive to talking about others. While he thought the Steelers’ defense was similar under Keith Butler as it was Dick LeBeau, there were a couple of differences. “I think we blitzed a little bit more on 3rd downs. We were a little bit more exotic than we had been in past years. I think gameplan to gameplan, we adjusted.

We didn’t just stay one front, or one different coverage. Because in the National Football League, there are so many different offenses. I think now we’re able to adjust and adapt and be versatile.” I certainly don’t think he was throwing LeBeau under the bus, you can sense the notion that LeBeau had been a little too rigid and not evolving as offenses have. Heyward’s comments are true based on our data. Butler blitzed about 5% more in 2015 than LeBeau two years ago. Matthews also asked for Heyward’s thoughts on Daniel McCullers, the lone nose tackle on the roster with Steve McLendon living it up in New York.

Heyward kept it simple. Much like a job interview or first date, be yourself. “When you looked at Steve’s situation, trying to replace Casey Hampton, which is never going to happen. Dan needs to understand that as well. I think when you look at it, Steve was Steve, Casey was Casey, and Dan needs to be Dan…We’re all going to pushing for Dan because he’s going to be a vital part of our defense this year.” And much like a job interview or a date, I am equally nervous over the prospects of McCullers being the team’s full-time nose tackle. I should probably clarify…

There are a lot of different types of leaders. A few years back we had a teamed with a ton of “quiet” veteran leaders (guys like Heath and Troy and Harrison). Those guys are great players and great teammates and they all command respect. But that’s not what I’m talking about here.

Football is an EMOTIONAL game. The opposing team is trying to beat you physically and mentally and emotionally. They’re trying to intimidate you and trash talk you and take away your confidence. You need guys who can combat that, who can seize control of the game emotionally dictate what is or is not allowed. They are the “alpha dog” on the field. Some guys have that quality innately.

Some guys don’t. Ray Lewis had it. Mean Joe Greene had it. Luke Kuechly has it. They fire their guys up mentally, physically, emotionally, so that they play better than they normally would in pressure situations. I am seeing some of those qualities developing in both Heyward and Pouncey. They hold their teammates accountable on the field. They get in their face if they have to. They get into opponents’ faces if they have to. Of course Ben and LeVeon and A. B. and even Harrison are leaders from a “play-making” standpoint. But I feel like Pouncey and Heyward set the tones “emotionally.” The difference in fronts Heyward is talking about in this interview are the multiple alignments and techniques they used in their base and nickel in comparison to the past.

McLendon could and did line up as a 0,1, 2 or 3 technique last season he had the power to anchor plus the quickness to penetrate a gap as needed. LeBeau liked his NT to play as a 0 technique and that was what McCullers was drafted to play, now they are asking their NT to line up and play different techniques as needed, don’t know if McCullers can do that unless he slims down and gains quickness. I dont think I would say LeBeau refused to evolve or was rigid, we are talking about a coach that developed one of the most innovative defensive schemes in the history of the game, on the back of a napkin while flying on an airplane. Playing one coverage (cover-3) the way the Steelers did it with Troy was a misnomer, it wasn’t really one coverage, it was one defensive look and Troy had the freedom, instincts, and physical ability to turn that one defensive coverage into a completely different coverage on the fly on his own. This is what made it special. When you don’t have a player like Troy at SS than it becomes one coverage. What the Steelers have to do to get the same effect without Troy is much more complicated for the entire secondary.

Now everyone has to think more and their assignments change much more often play to play as they change coverage so often. No, the coaches align players in a front to correspond with the defense called, an even technique is generally two gapping, you do not try to collapse the pocket when you two gap, they control two gaps and do not penetrate, this allows the defensive lineman to flow to the ball laterally without getting caught in the wash. and keeps the linebackers free to roam. Odd techniques are single gaps the lineman penetrate at the snap but now the linebackers have to scrape gaps on the other side..The dlineman are easier to block against the run and cant move as freely laterally to flow to the ball. Even inside alignments are single gap contains, the lineman contain one gap but dont penetrate at the snap.

Players dont just line up wherever they please, there is a specific reason they line up where they do, some are penetrating, some are two gapping, some are containing on every play it can change and they line up to carry out their assignment in the defense. There is a fine line between success and failure and those few inches of alignment makes a huge difference in carrying out their responsibility in the defense. McCullers has to play the defensive alignment necessary for the play call this is the NFL not high school football it is a bit more complicated than just lining up and trying to collapse the pocket. Awesome view on things the past 5 years (not including last year of course). Having Troy as an x-factor allowed us to be disruptive, regardless of what they were trying on us. A truly special player that made things harder on opposing offenses, especially when we did show the same/similar look. And from Cam’s perspective, would have been more ‘rigid’.

I have hopes for BigD, if he can fill a role, and just be _______ <- what he excels at/improves upon, Tuitt and Heyward can perform off of it. With McLendon in for 95% of the base snaps in 2015, I can see how the rest of the line couldn't practice to do the same for BigD; let's see what happens over the summer.

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