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Dick LeBeau has support of Steelers' defensive leaders

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After the Pittsburgh Steelers allowed the New England Patriots to roll up 55 points on their defense in a Week 9 loss, coach Mike Tomlin hinted that changes are coming to a unit that's been a model of consistency during his reign.

"Those people who are lacking effort won't be playing," Tomlin said Monday. "It's just that simple. I am angry, disappointed."

Tomlin was speaking of his players, many of them aging ungracefully on a defense that's allowed 34-plus points in three separate games for the first time since 1989. Some have wondered if Tomlin's disappointment also extends to the work of longtime coordinator Dick LeBeau.

LeBeau, who turned 76 years old this season, has taken Pittsburgh's swoon "very hard," according to safety Troy Polamalu, but Steelers players this week rallied to defend their coach.

"Somebody has to take the blame," linebacker LaMarr Woodley said, via the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. "That's just the way it is when you're having a bad season. Last season, I was the one to take the blame. It comes with the territory. Now people want to blame the defensive coordinator."

Said safety Ryan Clark: "There's nothing anyone can say outside our group about coach LeBeau that bothers us. We know what kind of man he is. We know what kind of work he puts into us, not just as football players but as men. We don't have to defend him. His resume speaks for itself."

We'd need to hear something more tangible from Tomlin before questioning LeBeau's future in the Steel City. Since his arrival in Pittsburgh in 2004, LeBeau's crafted the NFL's most-feared front, with a scheme as creative as it is overpowering. The problem -- today -- isn't LeBeau, it's a host of overripe players tangled in with younger but lesser talent at every level of the D.

We're not sure Pop Warner himself could do much more with what LeBeau's been given to work with.

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