Mike Tomlin has been the Steelers head coach for nearly 15 months, and one of the storylines that refuse to die is that the team will be going to the Cover-2 defense in the foreseeable future.
ProFootballTalk.com points out that Pittsburgh conducted a private workout with former Miami safety Kenny Phillips, and if the club uses their first-round pick on him it "might be a sign that coach Mike Tomlin is laying the foundation for a change from the 3-4 to the Tampa 2 defense, since solid safety play is critically important to the success of the attack that helped get Tomlin the job he now has."
Actually, it's a sign that the Steelers are a) worried about Ryan Clark's recovery from spleen surgery, or b) convinced that Anthony Smith isn't the long-term answer at free safety. It has absolutely nothing to do with an eventual move to the Cover-2. At least if you believe Tomlin:
"A lot of people like to trace my origins to Tampa, Fla., but I coached a little football in college prior to that," Tomlin said at the NFL owners meetings. "I've been involved with a 3-4 defense, a 4-3 defense. The longer you coach, there's many ways to skin it. You better skin it in a direction that lends itself to your guys being able to do what they do best."Tomlin told the Pittsburgh-Tribune Review's Scott Brown that he's not "changing direction in regard to the way the Steelers play defense, no matter what signals he sounds out that suggest otherwise." He also added this:
"We've got a great deal of continuity in terms of (the 3-4). We play great defense. It's not broke, so why fix it?" Tomlin said. "To me, part of good coaching is doing what your guys do well and putting them in position to be successful."It's also worth noting that in today's NFL, defenses, for the most part, can't be characterized as "3-4" or "4-3" or "46" or whatever. In fact, Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau made this point last off-season, when, ostensibly, he first started fielding questions about the inevitable switch to the Tampa-2:
As for what scheme the Steelers actually have been using since LeBeau returned for his second sting with the team for the 2004 season, "We've always been a pretty big Cover-2 team," said LeBeau. "At one point, we probably were a Cover-2 team. For the last three years, we've been close to a 50 percent Cover-2 team."Just something to keep in mind the next time you hear that Tomlin has designs on moving the Steelers to a 4-3 defense.