When fans sometimes look forward to punts so they can see their defense take the field, it is past time to start settling on a nickname. It is a tradition in Pittsburgh for the Steelers' defense to carry a nickname befitting its personality. While the Steelers' defenses of the 70s were great, possibly the greatest in the history of the league, the nickname associated with that feared unit helped to preserve their memory for posterity. While "The Steel Curtain" originally applied to the defensive line, it expanded over time to eventually encompass the whole defense.
The "Blitzburgh" nickname that encompassed some of the Steelers' defenses of the 90s was equally appropriate, maybe even better. Greg Lloyd and Kevin Greene spearheaded the pass rushing attack of those units. Those two were known not just for their rushing prowess, but for looking certifiably insane while doing it. Lloyd would stalk the sideline before games like a caged beast while Greene looked like a psychotic studio wrestler on a bad hair day. Those Steelers' linebacking units were spectacular with some of their best linebackers not even being their best rushers with players like Chad Brown and Levon Kirkland rounding out dominant squads. Kirkland was one of my all-time favorite Steelers and, in my opinion, one of the most underrated linebackers ever to play the game. I remember watching number #99 running like a freight train (he literally looked like one) down the field covering Shannon Sharpe. Those defenses never got the credit they deserved because their team never won the big game (although the 95 Super Bowl loss was certainly not their fault...one of the great individual battles of that game can be described as "Mr. Emmitt...meet Mr. Kirkland").
But, the current defense, with two Super Bowl titles and insane stats, will not soon be forgotten...especially with a good nickname. I don't think Steel Curtain or Blitzburgh should be reused. Those nicknames should be unique to the teams that played in those eras.
Below are a few possibilities but I'd love to hear other suggestions.
The Steel Swarm - This defense absolutely swarms opponents. The linebackers and defensive linemen are always buzzing around the quarterback and opposing runners and pass catchers see very little daylight before being buried in a pile of Steelers.
The Steel Trap - The Steelers' defense tricks opposing offenses into making mistakes. When they step into the "trap," the defense is ready to pounce. This aspect of the defense was on full display during the playoffs when Troy Polamalu returned Flacco's pass for an interception to seal the AFC Championship Game and even more so when
Kurt Warner fell victim to Lebeau's scheme on James Harrison's absolutely momentum crushing interception return.
The Steel Hammer (or maybe the Hammer and Anvil defense or Boomburgh or
The Black and Blue Express or Splatsburgh) - This nickname, or a better form of it, would capture the propensity of Steelers' defenders to deliver absolutely bone jarring hits. No defense hits harder on a more consistent basis than the Steelers. Some of those hits this past year were so brutal that it was hard to watch the replay. Two of the most vicious hits were those by Ryan Clarke on Wes Welker and Willis McGahee.
That last one was downright scary.
My last idea would be a nickname that honors Dick LeBeau in some way since he may be nearing the end of his career. Then again, I'm hoping he is still coaching at 100. I'm struggling on this one. The Lunatics of LeBeau just doesn't seem to cut it. Maybe something like the Wizards's Wall of Woe. I give up on this idea but hope someone can come up with something better.
I think I'm partial to Splatsburgh and Boomburgh or to something yet unnamed. So, if you could be king for a day, what would you name that defense?