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SBXLV teams might have advantage in shortened offseason

  • By Pat Kirwan NFL.com
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Morry Gash / Associated Press
Kevin Greene believes players such as Clay Matthews will be ready to go when the lockout ends.


With offseason work being reduced to player-run sessions, when things get resolved and there's a labor deal in place, having smart coordinators will be important to having players ready in a short period of time.

Two teams that have two of the best defensive coordinators in the business are the Packers and Steelers. Not only did those teams play in the Super Bowl, but they could have an advantage heading into next season thanks to Dom Capers and Dick LeBeau.

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This week I had a chance to talk with two men who know the unique schemes run in Green Bay and Pittsburgh, and the prospect of not getting a lot of time to work on them in the offseason. Packers outside linebacker coach Kevin Greene, who played for LeBeau in Pittsburgh (Watch: Steelers' LB corps of 1990s), and Steelers linebacker James Farrior. These two men have a pretty good idea of what it takes to get ready to play.

Greene retired with 160 sacks, the most of any linebacker in NFL history and should be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame. However, that's a story for another time. At this point, he's itching to coach his players. He has also instilled so much pride and technique in his linebackers that he believes they'll be ready when the time comes to practice. Greene had the group playing at an extremely high level last season despite four linebackers going to injured reserve.

So, as important as it is to have good coordinators, terrific position coaches like Greene can help get guys up to speed quickly.

When I asked Greene what was Capers' biggest attribute besides developing the scheme he said, "Coach Dom is excellent at dealing with setbacks."

Well, if that's the case, Green Bay's defense will be ready with a full complement of pressure calls and multiple packages even if it only gets a few weeks to prepare.

As for the Steelers, Farrior didn't feel it was a big deal for the defense to be working as a group right now without their coach. He just finished his ninth season with the team and is a guy who could coach the LeBeau defense.

"It's actually good to be working on my own, getting some needed rest and just getting my body right," Farrior said. "I don't need to be lining up in the base defense right now just so some rookie can figure out where he lines up."

Farrior didn't feel that the long lockout was really going to impact the Steelers' defense because it's a veteran unit that played into February. LeBeau could get them ready in whatever time he gets to work with them.

In fact, Titans safety and former Steeler Chris Hope said, "It should be illegal for any of these rookie quarterbacks to line up against the Steeler defense early in the season if they have limited practice time."

The same holds true for a rookie facing the Packers' defense.

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