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fordfixer
06-05-2012, 12:41 AM
Steelers linemen Heyward and Hood hold up their end
June 3, 2012 8:40 am
Keith Srakocic

http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/steeleres-linemen-heyward-hood-hold-up-their-end-638713/?p=0
http://c4241337.r37.cf2.rackcdn.com/06-03-10_hood_420.jpg
Ziggy Hood, right, works against fellow defensive end Al Woods in an OTA last month.




By Dan Gigler / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

Trivia question: What does John Goodman have to do with Ziggy Hood and Cam Heyward?

If you're thinking of the stout actor of "Big Lebowski" fame, try again. Because in 1982, a second-year player from Oklahoma with the same name, along with veteran Tom Beasley, were the first starting ends in a new 3-4 scheme that would become the die-cast for Steelers defenses up to the modern zone variation they employ today.

The reloading-not-rebuilding tenet of the near-mythological "Steeler Way" has been a dominant theme of the current OTAs, and one can look to the history of the defensive ends as a case study in consistency, where the lines of succession might be the envy of the British monarchy.

In the 30 years the Steelers have employed the 3-4, there have been 20 primary starters at end, and 16 did it for multiple seasons -- Goodman, Beasley, Keith Gary, Keith Willis, Edmund Nelson, Donald Evans and Kevin Henry to name a few. With rare exceptions, it has been an orderly procession of veterans breaking in, teaching and ultimately passing the torch to younger players.

Recently retired Aaron Smith made his first career start in 2000, just down the line from five-year starter Henry. In '03, rookie Brett Keisel studied under veterans Smith and Kimo von Oelhoffen. Keisel made his first start in '06, and, with Smith, began the tutelage of first-round picks Ziggy Hood in '09 and Cam Heyward last year.

Now, Keisel finds himself in the role of the bearded sage while Hood and Heyward vie to replace Smith and the crater-sized vacuum of leadership and skill he leaves behind. Hood has the inside track, having seen significant starting time in the past two seasons in place of the oft-injured Smith. Keisel believes Hood is ready.

"Ziggy's been fortunate because, since the day he got here, he's been basically forced into playing," Keisel said. "When Aaron went down his rookie year, he had to come in and play right away so he has those mental reps, those physical reps, those game reps that you can't get any other way.

"You can go out here and practice all you want, but, until you take it out and do it at game speed -- it's a whole other level. Luckily for him, he's been doing that now for three years, so stepping into this role as the starter from the get-go I don't think will be a big transition at all for him."

An affable West Texan with an 'aw-shucks' Amarillo twang, Hood embraces the challenge.

"Every guy wants the opportunity to start," he said. "What better chance than to get my opportunity right now. I've been working hard all offseason. I had a great offseason. I stayed around here. No need to go home. Pretty much just family and football for me.

"Now, all you can focus on is the small things -- taking the right step, hand placement, getting your hips by -- all the little things that make you a better player.

"I feel ready. I've never been a vocal leader, but I try to do my best to lead by example," he said, a point not lost on Heyward, who called Hood an "animal" in the weight room.

"All we do is just attack it hard," Hood said.

"If we're going to get up early and spend our time in the weight room, we might as well enjoy it and get big. There's no point in coming early and not doing anything, so you might as well just enjoy it and have fun with it."

On the field, Hood has been solid, if unspectacular, in 23 starts, notching 4.5 sacks. He was a standout in the '10 postseason. And yet, he hasn't made it an completely closed case, leaving open the opportunity for Heyward to put the heat on Hood -- and perhaps Keisel -- when training camp begins in July.

Heyward downplayed that idea or even a discussion of an increased role in the defense.

"I haven't even worried about that, I'm just trying to get better out here. I'll let my play show it off and continue to improve," he said, adding that he was simply glad to be taking advantage of his first OTAs (the ones last year were canceled because of the NFL's labor strife).

"I think it's vital for me to take in the playbook a lot more and learn from my mistakes and take time to shine up and oil up and learn my technique and get better at it ... I'm not a senior guy at all.

"I have a lot to learn from Keisel and [Casey Hampton]. They'll bring me along, and Zig, if he's put in charge, he'll take care of us."

Keisel is bullish on Heyward's ability and knows that sooner or later, he'll be succeeded by him.

"I believe in him, I do. I feel like he's the type of guy that has the type of character that's going to come in and keep the ship rolling in the right direction," Keisel said. "I have all the confidence in the world in Cam, and, when the day comes when I hang up the old No. 99, he'll do a great job."

Which -- for 30 years -- has been the Steelers plan.

Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/stories/sports/steelers/steeleres-linemen-heyward-hood-hold-up-their-end-638713/#ixzz1wtHPBfk0

flippy
06-05-2012, 08:06 AM
I wonder if we can get more rotation on the line to help our 3rd down pass rush?

Keisel was a phenom when he was a situational 3rd down player. I wonder if Heyward can fill that role? Can McClendon do the same?

Shawn
06-05-2012, 09:19 AM
Trust me Flippy, Heyward will see some significant PT this season. He will force the Steelers hand. He is that kind of special. He has something Hood doesn't have, and that is the ability to not only take on double teams, but to split them and be disruptive. I remember as a freshman Heyward coming in and pushing the older guys on the Buckeye squad, making splash plays...and at times looking dominant. Last season reminded me of that. As a senior when Heyward was on, there wasn't a better DE in the country.

hawaiiansteel
06-05-2012, 02:08 PM
People Underestimate Ziggy Hoods Importance in the Steelers Defense

June 5th, 2012

http://cdn.bleacherreport.net/images_root/slides/photos/000/672/081/108327548_display_image.jpg?1296157732

Steelers Defensive End takes a lot of heat for his performance in the Steelers defense. He gets compared to Aaron Smith and no one likes the fact that he does not put up the numbers that Smith put up. Hood is not Smith and nor will he ever be. Smith was the perfect 5 tech defensive end. He ate up blockers and still made his way to the QB. The man had an outstanding all around game. He is a once in a generation player. Smith is the best 3-4 defensive end of his era. You can not be mad at Hood for not being that guy.

While Hood is not Smith he has played above average as defensive end. He is just now finishing his third year in the position. He had to transition to the position and we have all heard over and over how people need 3 years to be comfortable. Hood seemed to get comfortable this season. He may have made fewer plays for the team but he also took up more blockers. He made holes for his teammates and gave them the ability to make plays. He opened up to the fact that his role is not to be the splash player.

Hood did not get to start right away. Aaron Smith was the starter at the beginning of last season. Smith while a legend was one of the reasons that the defense struggled early. Smith was being pushed all over the field. His age and his injuries held him back. Smith was not the same guy that he used to be. Smith was allowed to stay in even though he was not effective. Hood would have spent the entire year on the bench if Smith would not have been injured. The Steelers defense would have struggled right a long with him.

With Hood taking to his role different aspects of the Steelers defense improved. Hoods strength helped the Steelers run defense improve. The Steelers were giving up 4.78 yards per carry and 119.5 yards per game with Smith in to 3.74 yards per carry and 93.25 yards per game. That is over 1 yard less per rush once Hood entered the game. That yards per game average would have given the Steelers the 3rd best rush defense in the NFL.

The Steelers also gave up 2 100 yard rushers in the first four games. In the last 12 they only gave up one. That was in a blow out win over the Rams. Stephen Jackson worked his way over 100 yards in that game. The defense really improved against the run with Hood on the field. Smith just could not hold up anymore. It was sad but it was easy to see.

Another person who can attest to Hoods on field play was LaMarr Woodley. Woodley started off the season slow in the statistical categories. In the first four games Woodley only had 1.5 sacks. He was spending much of his time working against the run before being able to pass rush. He was covering for Smith. He was unable to play his true game. He could not really rush the passer the way he wanted to. He had to make sure it was not a run before he could head towards the QB. It caused him to struggle.

When Hood came in the game Woodley had a player that he knew could hold up against the run. It gave Woodley the ability to do what he does best. Crush the quarterback. Before his injury Woodley played 4 games with Hood. During that time Woodley had 7.5 sacks. He had at least 1.5 in each game. Woodley was a ball of fire. He was a different player when Hood was in the game. Woodley was on the way to a possible Defensive Player of the Year before he got hurt.

So while Hood may not be the best 5 tech in the league. He may not be Aaron Smith. His value is being taken for granted. Hood can play and he is doing his job. He is making it easy for others to make plays. He will continue to progress and we will be better for it.

http://bleedblackandgold.com/blog/2012/06/05/people-underestimate-ziggy-hoods-importance-in-the-steelers-defense/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+BleedBlackAndGold+(Bleed+Blac k+and+Gold)

Crash
06-05-2012, 02:11 PM
Not to be the bearer of bad news here but can anyone tell me who was responsible for Hood's snaps being decreased to start 2011 despite the strong finish he had the season prior?

RuthlessBurgher
06-05-2012, 02:15 PM
Not to be the bearer of bad news here but can anyone tell me who was responsible for Hood's snaps being decreased to start 2011 despite the strong finish he had the season prior?

The return of the best 3-4 DE of his generation might have had something to do with it. Aaron Smith was given the benefit of the doubt that he was still the monster he once was, but it became obvious that he was not anymore, and then he got hurt again.

Crash
06-05-2012, 02:22 PM
The return of the best 3-4 DE of his generation might have had something to do with it. Aaron Smith was given the benefit of the doubt that he was still the monster he once was, but it became obvious that he was not anymore, and then he got hurt again.

But wouldn't an alleged genius/mad scientist use BOTH players instead of trotting out the old veteran almost exclusively?

Just like Foote. He's starting because he calls the defense. What LeBeau should have done, is COACH Timmons on how to call defenses, that way you see, the younger Sylvester can rotate with Foote and keep Foote fresher during the course of a 16 game season.

hawaiiansteel
06-05-2012, 03:03 PM
Not to be the bearer of bad news here but can anyone tell me who was responsible for Hood's snaps being decreased to start 2011 despite the strong finish he had the season prior?


let me guess, must have been Art II...

RuthlessBurgher
06-05-2012, 03:42 PM
But wouldn't an alleged genius/mad scientist use BOTH players instead of trotting out the old veteran almost exclusively?

In the first game, they used Aaron Smith almost exclusively (Smith 53 snaps, Hood 10 snaps). But then when it was obvious that Aaron Smith was not his old self, they adjusted, and used BOTH players, just as you suggest, until Smith was injured again and lost for the season.

Week 2: Smith 30 snaps, Hood 27 snaps

Week 3: Smith 54 snaps, Hood 60 snaps

Week 4: Smith 32 snaps, Hood 46 snaps

From 43 more snaps for Smith to 3 more snaps for Smith to 6 more snaps for Hood to 14 more snaps for Hood.

Try again.

ikestops85
06-05-2012, 04:06 PM
In the first game, they used Aaron Smith almost exclusively (Smith 53 snaps, Hood 10 snaps). But then when it was obvious that Aaron Smith was not his old self, they adjusted, and used BOTH players, just as you suggest, until Smith was injured again and lost for the season.

Week 2: Smith 30 snaps, Hood 27 snaps

Week 3: Smith 54 snaps, Hood 60 snaps

Week 4: Smith 32 snaps, Hood 46 snaps

From 43 more snaps for Smith to 3 more snaps for Smith to 6 more snaps for Hood to 14 more snaps for Hood.

Try again.

Try not to let facts interfere with Crash's interpretation of Steeler history.

Crash
06-05-2012, 04:23 PM
Facts huh? Like these?


Week 3: Smith 54 snaps, Hood 60 snaps

Week 4: Smith 32 snaps, Hood 46 snapsLooks nice on paper, and you think you got me....BUT......

Now take into account that KEISEL missed those two games.

Thanks for playing.

Try harder.

hawaiiansteel
06-08-2012, 12:32 AM
by Teresa Varley - Steelers.com
June 7, 2012

Defensive end Ziggy Hood prides himself on being the strongest player on the team, but this year he is also focusing on speed and agility, working with a personal trainer during the offseason to improve in those areas.|

I sat back and evaluated myself after the season, said Hood. I found out I play better when I feel good. When I dont feel good, I dont play as well. I went back and watched all of the tape, saw what I did positive and negative. I thought what better way to help my speed and agility is to lose body fat so that is what I have been focusing on. When you feel sluggish, you are not in the best shape. You can be big and lean and still do the job correctly. If you feel good, you feel better.

Hood has been wearing a six-pound weighted vest during OTAs, something he picked up his rookie year after watching James Harrison do the same thing.

I have been doing it ever since to keep my body in shape, said Hood. It makes you better, faster so when you come to training camp it will make you better. Its all about speed and technique right now. I am going to do what I do and try to stay fast.

Its a new prototype (of defensive linemen). All that big and looking sloppy is out the window. We come in here and we are sexy now.

http://www.steelers.com/news/article-1/Pope-likes-what-he-sees-with-Steelers/6464fd70-60a5-418c-892a-0e21d6ef5f04

RuthlessBurgher
06-09-2012, 12:16 AM
Facts huh? Like these?

Looks nice on paper, and you think you got me....BUT......

Now take into account that KEISEL missed those two games.

Thanks for playing.

Try harder.

Okay, let's look at the snaps for all our DE's for the first month until Smith got hurt.

Game 1: Brett Keisel 55 snaps, Aaron Smith 53 snaps, Ziggy Hood 10 snaps, Cameron Heyward 5 snaps.

They opened the season vet heavy...the 2 veteran starters played a ton with very little rotation from the young-uns.

Game 2: Aaron Smith 30 snaps, Ziggy Hood 27 snaps, Brett Keisel 24 snaps, Cameron Heyward 7 snaps.

Ziggy was utilized more in a 3 man rotation at DE to take the pressure off the vets. The rook got little playing time.

Game 3: Ziggy Hood 60 snaps, Aaron Smith 54 snaps, Cameron Heyward 8 snaps, Brett Keisel DNP (Inj.)

With Keisel out, Hood and Smith started and played virtually the whole same. The rook still got little playing time.

Game 4: Ziggy Hood 46 snaps, Aaron Smith 32 snaps, Cameron Heyward 29 snaps, Brett Keisel DNP (Inj.)

With Keisel still out, Cam was utilized more in a 3 man rotation at DE to take the pressure off the starters.


Seems to me that LeBeau and Mitchell adjusted a great deal here. Smith and Keisel played almost exclusively in game 1, but then they adjusted by playing Ziggy more in a 3 man rotation in game 2. Then when Keisel was out of the lineup, they played Hood and Smith almost exclusively in game 3, but then they adjusted again by playing Cam more in a 3 man rotation in game 4.

Crash
06-09-2012, 12:43 AM
Smith was hurt in game 4. I would also be willing to bet that most of Hood's snaps in game #2 occurred after it was 24-0.

phillyesq
06-09-2012, 08:23 AM
Smith was hurt in game 4. I would also be willing to bet that most of Hood's snaps in game #2 occurred after it was 24-0.

Smith and Keisel each played the first eight snaps. Then Hood played snaps 9 through 18.