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Steelers mail: Dick LeBeau deserving of more blame?

Here is the latest Pittsburgh Steelers mailbag. If you have a question please send to @ScottBrown_ESPN with #steelersmail.

And away we go ...


@ScottBrown_ESPN: I think Dick LeBeau has taken his share of criticism over the last couple of seasons, and some of it is warranted. As great of a defensive mind as LeBeau is I'm not sure he has put the players he has in the best positions. It's tough when a 3-4 defense doesn't get a consistent pass rush from its outside linebackers, but LeBeau has to find a way to get pressure from somewhere. I will say this: It is ludicrous to say that the game has passed him by. I'm not sure that anyone could coax great defensive play from a group that is aging in key spots, is breaking in new players and is lacking in playmakers. As for the game-winning touchdown catch by Vincent Jackson last Sunday, it looked like cornerback William Gay had help inside so I'm not sure why he let Jackson get that open on the outside.


@ScottBrown_ESPN: I think it's been a team effort as far as playing down to opponents. Consider the Steelers' last two losses in Oakland. Last season, the Steelers allowed a 93-yard touchdown run to Terrelle Pryor on the first play from scrimmage and that set the tone in a terrible loss. The previous season in Oakland, the Steelers gave up 34 points to the Raiders in a three-point loss. There are certainly examples of the Steelers' offense playing down to the level of the opponents -- and last year's loss in Oakland would qualify as one -- but the common denominator in losses to lesser opponents is the Steelers beating themselves. Usually it's with turnovers. Last Sunday against the Buccaneers it was with penalties, an untimely poor punt and an uncharacteristic drop by Pro Bowl wide receiver Antonio Brown. I think we can agree that whatever is causing the Steelers to lose to teams they should beat it has to stop, and it is incumbent upon coach Mike Tomlin to put an end to it. The Steelers, after all, are 6-9 in their last 15 games against teams with losing records.


@ScottBrown_ESPN: I think hate it a pretty strong word. Justin Brown seems like a great guy and by all accounts he works his tail off so I'd love nothing more than for him to succeed. But I still don't see the Steelers playing him over Lance Moore, who has much more of a body of work. Brown didn't produce much in the preseason, and if my math is correct he logged the most snaps of any Steelers skills player. Through four games, Brown has seven catches for 59 yards, has lost a fumble and dropped a touchdown pass. I'm not saying the Steelers should give up on the 2013 sixth-round pick after four games but I also question how patient they can be with Brown. This team needs to win in the worst way this season after consecutive 8-8 campaigns, and I simply think Moore playing the No. 3 wide receiver gives them the better chance of doing that.


@ScottBrown_ESPN: If I'm puzzled over why Justin Brown is playing over Lance Moore on offense, this is the biggest mystery to me on defense. Thomas had a really good training camp and preseason, and he appeared poise to make the kind of jump Mike Tomlin expects from his second-year players. Yet four games into the season, Thomas has played mostly on special teams. You would think the Steelers would use a package to get Shamarko Thomas on the field with starting safeties Troy Polamalu and Mike Mitchell -- or spell those two from time to time -- but we have yet to see that. The Steelers have gotten few impact plays from Polamalu and Mitchell, so why not get Thomas on the field more?


@ScottBrown_ESPN: I doubt it will be this week after he missed practice Wednesday and Thursday with an illness, and it's hard to see Martavis Bryant making the game-day roster in the foreseeable future. The Steelers aren't going to dress six wide receivers and Justin Brown, Lance Moore and Darrius Heyward-Bey are all ahead of Bryant. Heyward-Bey plays on special teams so it's hard to see Bryant moving ahead of him, and he probably isn't going to dress unless there is an injury at wide receiver. It's a long season, so Bryant will get on the field at some point. But right now it looks like he is headed for the NFL equivalent of a redshirt season.