Writers of Pro Football Prospectus 2008

13 Oct 2009

UPDATE: Aaron Smith Placed On IR

The Steelers' Aaron Smith has a shoulder injury that, according to Mike Tomlin, "...potentially could be significant." He will miss next week's game against Cleveland.

UPDATE: Smith has a torn rotator cuff, and has been placed on IR.

Posted by: Bill Barnwell on 13 Oct 2009

13 comments, Last at 14 Oct 2009, 9:44pm by SteveNC


by Bowl Game Anomaly :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 4:07pm

You guys should be bragging more about predicting the demise of the Pitt defense. Obviously DVOA had some misses (Denver, St. Louis, etc.) but this was one of the most out-on-a-limb projections and it came true.

by tuluse :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 7:07pm

Bragging about a team's decline might not be the best way to get more fans to read the website.

by Justin Zeth :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 4:27pm

It's possible Smith was injured before the Detroit game and just aggravated it, or that the Steelers were hiding it, I suppose, but I think the big story behind the collapse of the Steelers' defense--and I do mean collapse, as it's now in the bottom third of the league in DVOA despite not playing any particularly strong offensive teams--but rather Casey Hampton and Aaron Smith very suddenly getting old. (Or, again, maybe Smith has been hurt all along, I don't know.) They're getting pushed around a lot.

Remember when the Steelers' defense kind of crumbled late in 2007 and left us scratching our heads? It coincided with Aaron Smith being injured.

A lot of people are going to be surprised when Polamalu returns and the Steelers' defense doesn't improve much. Aaron Smith was as important as Polamalu. Their scheme depends heavily on their three linemen disrupting the opposing o-line, and this year, it isn't happening.

by Jerry :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 6:51pm

We'll see if Ziggy Hood is an improvement over Nick Eason.

by Balaji (not verified) :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 8:42pm

Yeah, my first thought when I read about this was, "Great, it's going to be like 2007 again."

Those last three games (and playoff game) were brutal.

by drobviousso :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:00pm

Just a reminder that Pittsburgh's rush defense up to this point in the season is ranked number 5 in the league. Smith is a big part of the reason it's been that good up till this point. The defense has been bad this year, but it's not because they are getting run on.

I think Ziggy is actually a pretty bad fit to replace Smith. He's a better fit to replace Kiesel, based on play style.

by Jerry :: Tue, 10/13/2009 - 10:14pm

Ziggy played left end in preseason. However, from Tomlin's press conference today:

How much has Ziggy Hood played? How ready is he?
He’s played in just about every football game he’s had a helmet on. He’s played on special teams in some games, he’s had more defensive snaps in others. He played a pretty significant portion of the game this past week. He’s a young guy that’s on the come up. He’s got a lot of talent. He’s not out of the oven yet if you will. We acknowledge that, he acknowledges that. As long as we continue to do that, he’ll continue in the right direction. He’ll continue along those lines in terms of participation but by no means is Ziggy Hood a potential replacement for Aaron Smith at this point. It will probably be a committee of bodies trying to fill that void.

Who else would that include?
The usual suspects. Travis Kirschke, Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood.

by drobviousso :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 8:37am

I was basing my observation on the preseason. Hood is weaker at holding up the point of attack and collapsing the pocket and better at slipping up field. Also, PGH reported that he didn't play a single snap vs SD, for whatever it's worth.

I'm not saying Hood is bad, not by any means. I thought he was a great pick and everything we've seen has been encouraging. He's just got a different style of play that Smith. The irrational fan in me says Hood might be a little better at getting at the QB, which might help our abominable pass defense, and if our run defense falls from #5 to #10, that's not an aweful trade. My rational fan says last time Smith went down, we didn't have Hood, but it was real bad. Like Martin Lawrence vanity film bad.

by drobviousso :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 3:14pm

From the little I saw of Harris, I think he's more 'in the style of' Smith than Hood is, and I was really sad when it looked like the Steelers lost him.

by Israel P. (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 3:51am

"The usual suspects," Travis Kirschke, Nick Eason and Ziggy Hood are supposed to spell both Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel. So now if they are all concentrating on replacing Smith, I'm wondering how it will affect Keisel.

by bengt (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:20am

And now he's on injured reserve. Rookie Ra'Shon Harris has been signed from the Panthers' PS.

by djanyreason :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 10:31am

Interesting thing about the Steelers' Defense:

5th against the run
7th in ASR
15th against #1 WR
8th against #2 WR
30th against other WR
27th against TE
26th against RB

So, to this point, the Steelers poor defense has mostly been due to passes thrown to targets other than #1 or #2 WRs. Obviously, losing Aaron Smith is going to severely hurt the Steelers run D and pass rush, but looking at the numbers it seems like a lot of what has been ailing the Steelers D is due to the loss of Polamalu.

by SteveNC (not verified) :: Wed, 10/14/2009 - 9:44pm

They can certainly get quite a bit worse with Smith out and Polamalu back.