not that it matters, but Heyward played 43 snaps and IMO I thought he more than held his own and certainly deserves more playing time in the future.
Hood may benefit from being a pure pass rushing DL and staying fresh.
Now, right off the bat, Chadman is going to point out that he has no stats to back any of what is about to be said up, however...
the success of the Steelers 3-4 Defense is, primarily, dependant on the play of the DL. These guys set the tone, fill gaps & create space for the LB's to make plays. That in itself says that the stat lines for the DL for the Steelers are never going to give a great gauge as to how they are really playing.
Team Stats however might show how effective the Steelers 3-4 DL is. After all, as a unit, we can see their success representeted by the success of those around them. Where is the Steelers D rated right now?
Another thing to consider is this- if the DL is the tone-setter of the 3-4, the NT is the central cog to the DL success. Without good play from the NT, without dominant play from the NT, the DL is never going to be as effective as they could/should be. Don't think there is much doubt right now that Hampton isn't the same player he was 5 years ago. Neither Hood nor Keisel are dominant, in Chadman's opinion, this season. Is that reflected in Hampton's regression?
Comparing Heyward's value to Hood's is irrelevant. The Steelers need all the DE's to be effective, in whatever way they are asked to play. Hood is a little tank, while Heyward is an athletic beast. They are going to play differently. They will not garner the same results, individually. How different are the team stats with Hood in as compared to when Heyward is in? That is more the key indicator.
With Ta'amu's release, and with McLendon not having pushed Hampton for starting time this season, the NT position, going forward, is still a big question mark. If Hampton continues regressing, or is released, the Steelers DL will NOT improve next season, unless there is a genuine investment into the position- either FA or the draft. Until we get dominant play from the NT again, the DE's will not look as good as they could, and the domino's will start to fall across the D.
Overall, at this point, I question the Colbert-Tomlin tandem in talent evaluation. They have hit on some DB's & Wr's in the draft. At every other position they have been subpar in acquiring/ evaluating talent. Look at all the 3rd contracts we have had to sign vets to which is totally not the Steelers norm.
I think this offseason will be big for the Steelers looking toward the future including who we choose to keep out of our own free agents. I think Wallace & Mendenhall should go on offense. On defense I free up cash by getting rid of, or asking for renegotiated contracts from Casey, Harrison, and Troy. We could easily free up 20-25 million and address some needs via free agency. We need to hit on one or two Hartings, Kemo, Farrior type free agents or we are going to piss away our final years with Ben.
I love the old man and what he has brought to Steelers nation, but I wouldn't mind a fresh eye on our defense. With so many teams running the 3-4 there has to be some real good young coach ready for a promotion. Hard to say that with the defense once again top 2 but it's just a feeling a change at coordinator is needed as our veterans move on as well.
Heyward in my opinion does a better job than Hood. Heyward should get the move ahead of Hood and this will give Hood more time to learn, lift weights, make videos or whatever he does because, it sure ain't stopping the run.
There will not be any front line or even mid-range free agent signings unless they try to keep our own players like Wallace. There is no new money until the new TV deal kicks in for the 2014 season.
How much money if any do we save if we let go of Troy ? He's always going to be injured, sitting the bench or at half speed to say the best.