“When the kids had killed the man I had to break up the band” - David Bowie, Ziggy Stardust
OK, I admit, I date myself. But perhaps since the day the Steelers drafted Evander aka Ziggy Hood in the first round of the 2009 draft I’ve been waiting for the chance to make a Ziggy Stardust tie in.
Unfortunately, this one did not come under happy circumstances.
Thank God Aaron Smith’s life is in no danger. But the same cannot be said for his career.
The lyric that is the most apt, in fact, is the most ominous.
Breaking up "the band" hits a little too close to home…
…Well, let’s just say that all sorts of statistics are flying around documenting the Steelers defenses’ effectiveness with and without Aaron Smith.
They all boil down to:
- With Smith Steelers Win Super Bowl
- Without Smith Steelers Defense Reduced to a Shell
Ziggy Hood cannot “replace” Aaron Smith any more than Chad Scott could replace Rod Woodson, or Jason Gildon could replace Kevin Greene.
Smith is a Hall of Fame caliber 3-4 defensive end. Aaron Smith has earned his place as one of the best defensive lineman in Steelers history.
Consider the magnitude of that statement. Aaron Smith is one of the best defensive lineman in Steelers history.
Those are some tall shoes to fill.
Preparing for this Eventuality with Evander
Steel Curtain Rising has quoted Mike Tomlin’s credo from the 2008 off season that the team needed to get “younger and stronger on both lines” more times than is good for us.
But the Steelers brain trust did that in April 2009 when they picked Ziggy Hood in the first round of the 2009 NFL draft. Although Aaron Smith was coming off an injury-free Super Bowl year, he was 33 and Nick Eason, the youngest lineman behind him, was 29.
When injury felled Aaron Smith 5 games into the 2009 season some raised their eyebrows when Mike Tomlin did not immediately insert Hood into the starting line up, seemingly calling the young man’s career into question before it even got started.
Such worry about Ziggy Hood was not warranted then, however, as Mike Tomlin was simply being prudent.
Ziggy Hood got plenty of playing time in 2009, and came on with some big plays when they were needed against Baltimore late in the season.
Through out the 2010 off season and into the beginning of training camp, coaches ballyhooed Ziggy Hood. But Hood did not play up to expectations, and his drive to press Brett Keisel for playing time never materialized.
Thus far in the 2010 season Hood has not made any “Splash” plays in the spot duty he’s gotten. But he played a huge role in shutting down Chris Johnson when the Steelers schooled the Tennessee Titans.
Hood’s failure to start when Brett Keisel went down seemed like a red flag at first, but Ed Bouchette leaked the news that Hood has been fighting nagging ankle injuries for much of the year.
Little of that is relevant now.
The Steelers need Ziggy Hood to step in and show that he can be a competent starter at defensive end in 3-4 alignment. He’s show the promise that he can be that since the day the Steelers drafted him.
Now it is time for Ziggy Hood to grow. The Steelers need him to deliver.
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