Keith Butler plans to stay the course with Steelers' defense

PITTSBURGH -- The stability and continuity of the Pittsburgh Steelers compelled Keith Butler to patiently wait his turn and not pursue defensive coordinator jobs outside of the organization.

Little surprise then that Butler isn’t planning on implementing sweeping changes now that he has succeeded longtime Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau.

Butler, in an interview with Steelers.com’s Bob Labriola, said his philosophy will be to stop the run and get after opposing quarterbacks.

Sound familiar?

“We have to make offenses one-dimensional if we can, and we have to put pressure on the quarterback,” Butler told the team’s website on Tuesday, not long after the Steelers announced his promotion from linebackers coach. “If we can do those things, then we can help the offense. We have to get the ball back for the offense -- that’s our main goal.”

Only six teams had less than the 11 interceptions that the Steelers managed in 2014. The Steelers, meanwhile, tied for 15th in the NFL with 10 fumble recoveries.

One way for the Steelers to create more turnovers is to get more players around the football.

“There’s nothing that pleases me more than to see the guys surrounding the ball, and gang tackling,” Butler said, “and playing what I call team defense, and relying on each other to be where they’re supposed to be when they’re supposed to be there.”

Butler said the Steelers will be multiple on defense and play both the 3-4 and 4-3. That is something they have done for years, essentially going to a 4-3 when they employ their nickel package in passing situations.

Butler promised an attacking defense though not necessarily a change in scheme and certainly not one in general philosophy.

“Everybody says the best pass defense is pressure on the quarterback, and that’s probably true,” said Butler, who was the Steelers' linebackers coach from 2003-14. “If the quarterback can’t get the ball off, your pass defense is going to be pretty good. You want to put pressure on the quarterback, but you still have to have those athletes along the back end who can cover.”


  • The Steelers signed safety Isaiah Lewis on Tuesday. Lewis signed with the Cincinnati Bengals last May after going undrafted. The Bengals waived the 5-foot-10, 211-pound Lewis in August. Lewis developed a reputation as a big hitter at Michigan State and he earned an invitation to the NFL scouting combine last year.