Why Dick LeBeau's defense have worked so well vs. rookie QBs

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- Dick LeBeau knows his defenses have fared well against rookie quarterbacks, he just won’t harp on it and said history won’t help the Titans against Jameis Winston on Sunday.

The numbers, courtesy of ESPN Stats & Info, are remarkable.

Since 1995, rookie quarterbacks playing against LeBeau defenses are 3-26, with 24 touchdown passes, 37 interceptions and a .551 completion percentage. Just one, Jeff Garcia in 1999, has thrown for 300 yards.

“I guess I must have had some pretty decent defenses to beat those guys,” said LeBeau, now the Titans assistant head coach/defense. “… I’m proud of the record, I’m not going to give it back. I don’t think it’s anything to talk about. I think it’s going to come down to how we play this Sunday and that’s all that matters now. It doesn’t matter what we’ve done in the past. We’ve got to get after this guy and beat this guy.”

Some defensive coaches believe in pressuring a rookie quarterback, others like to complicate coverage with more people.

“As a general question, I always think more pressure is better than less,” LeBeau said. “You’re talking to a pressure coach. You have to see what’s happening in the game and try to reinforce our strength and minimize the things that you see they’re doing well. A lot of that depends on the way the game unfolds.”

LeBeau emphasized that he wouldn’t categorize Winston as a rookie based on how he throws the ball, calling him “a proven winner” who can throw the ball any place and get it there.

Former Lions head coach and Titans and Bills defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz said on my Nashville radio show Thursday that LeBeau’s scheme can be deceptive to any quarterback.

“A lot of his stuff looks like a blitz but it’s really not,” Schwartz said. “It’s just a different way to bring four guys. And what happens is, the quarterback reads blitz and thinks he’s got to throw quick when he really doesn’t. It’s sort of the same philosophy as rushing four. You make the quarterback have to decipher things.”

“Everybody wants to think that they can blitz a rookie quarterback. But sometimes rookie quarterbacks have a hard time making decisions. And when you blitz them, a true blitz, and it’s man-to-man coverage, you help them make that decision and you just give them one-on-one and it turns into one-on-one pitch and catch.

“Most rookie quarterbacks have good enough arms and good enough receivers that they can play one-on-one pitch and catch. When you’re reading blitz and it’s a trap zone, it’s a zone, it’s a version of two man -- simple stuff that Dick LeBeau is really, really good at -- that’s probably why he’s given rookie quarterbacks so much trouble.”