Dec 16, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers defensive end Ziggy Hood (96) celebrates a turnover in the red zone in the first quarter against the Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
In recent years, the Steelers have not had the production needed from their early picks. One of the biggest culprits: Ziggy Hood. I don’t expect Hood to put up JJ. Watt numbers because even though both the Texans and Steelers run a 3-4 defense, the role of the defensive end’s are totally different. His numbers are about average in my mind, but Ziggy Hood has not help put up the necessary stats that long time starter Aaron Smith did. I don’t think it is a coincidence that the Steelers sack totals have been down ever since Smith has been out of the starting line up.
Aaron Smith was on a steep decline at the end of his career, and it might be a lot to ask a player to step into his shoes right away. As a first round pick, Ziggy Hood is expected to play at a high level and not the level he has been playing at. It’s understandable that Hood was not up to Smith’s level in 2010, even 2011. We are now in 2013, and Hood looks to be up to his old tricks, with Mark Kaboly tweeting out the below message during practice today.
I realize just because he didn’t do well on one play doesn’t mean he is doomed for failure in 2013, but it sure is not a positive sign. Ziggy Hood is in his fifth year, getting pancaked by a tackle in his second year. This has been the story of his career, and I am wondering how long the Steelers are willing to put up with the play of Hood.
The funny thing is, Hood is one of the strongest, if not the strongest player on the Steelers. If you haven’t seen him workout, you can view his very impressive workout videos from last offseason here. While being incredibly strong does help a lot on the football field, it does not mean you will be the best. If the amount of weight you could lift determined how good of a football player someone would be, the worlds strongest people would be playing football.
Technique almost always beats strength with poor technique. Steelers linebacker coach acknowledged this earlier in the offseason when he stated Ziggy needed improvement on his technique:
"Ziggy Hood has some technical stuff that John has to work with him on,” Butler said. “And John knows about that, so we’re going to try to get those things clarified and work that out.”"
Defenders on Dick Lebeau’s defense are usually given a few years to develop into a starter. Coming into his fifth season, time is running out for Ziggy Hood. While he has had flashes of living up to his draft status, such as 24 tackles in a five-game span, most can agree that Hood has had a lot more negative than positive.
Is Ziggy Hood on his way out of Pittsburgh in 2014? So far he hasn’t shown anything that should make him a coveted prize on the free agent market, but the Steelers very well may have no choice to re-sign Hood either this offseason, or the next. With Brett Keisel most likely playing his last season, the Steelers will be down a defensive end. Cameron Heyward is expected to take over for Keisel, but if Ziggy Hood were to leave, their would be almost no one on the roster that could start.
I want Hood to be successful, and if he is able to put technique with his strength and natural talent, Ziggy Hood may finally live up to his first round draft status, becoming a star like his predecessor, Aaron Smith.
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