Steelers DE Ziggy Hood Says Ravens QB Joe Flacco Is The Toughest He\’s Faced

With the first OTA session of the 2013 season out of the way for the Pittsburgh Steelers, defensive end Ziggy Hood decided to go back home to Amarillo, Texas for the weekend and Terrence Hunley of the Amarillo Globe-News caught up with him after he was presented an award for donations that he made to the local Khiva Shrine Center.

Hood, who is entering the final year of his rookie contract, was asked if that fact makes it an even bigger year for him in 2013.

“I try not to get into all that,” said Hood, the Steelers first-round draft pick in the 2009 draft. “Every year is a big year. The main thing is to stay healthy, stay focused, let God do the work, and I handle the rest. I just want to go out there and do whatever I can for the team.”

Hood\’s time in Pittsburgh has of course allowed him to be coached by Steelers defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau and he was asked what it\’s like to play for the Hall of Famer.

“He’s a cool cat,” said Hood. “He’s not yelling. All he does is try to make you better. He demands perfection, but without saying anything. That just makes you want to work harder for the guy. I love the man.”

At the end of the interview, Hood was asked to reveal the toughest quarterback that he\’s played against in the NFL and his answer was a surprising one.

“It would probably have to be Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco,” said Hood. “He won the Super Bowl this year. We’ve got to improve ourselves against him twice a year. We’ve got to do whatever we can to prepare for him and get ready for him this season and get where we need to be.”

Although Hood wouldn\’t admit it, 2013 is a very important year for him with it being a contract year. In addition, the Steelers ability to get consistent pressure on opposing quarterbacks with their front five has been lacking for the last two seasons and that definitely needs to improve this upcoming season. Hood, however, played pretty good as a whole last season against the run and it led to him registering a career high in total tackles with 42 of them.

There has been some talk this off-season that third-year defensive end Cameron Heyward could possibly push Hood for the starting left defensive end job this year in training camp, but as I posted recently, I don\’t see that happening. As far as his contract situation goes, I think there\’s a chance that Hood could get an extension prior to the start of the season, as the Steelers really have no depth behind him when you look ahead to 2014.

As far as the Steelers disappointing 8-8 record last season, Hood pointed to the obvious generic answer of mistakes and close games as reasons why.

“We hope to learn from our mistakes and not repeat what we did last year,” Hood told Hunley. “Last year was a disappointing season. We saw what we did wrong. There were four or five games that we lost by three points and it easily could have been different if we would have won one or two of those. That’s just the way it goes. This year we are trying not to repeat the same thing and keep improving.”

  • emac2

    with a 700k salary and a 3 mil cap hit he would seem a natural for an extension unless they just don’t want him or feel he’s the kind of guy that needs financial motivation.

  • TJimmy

    I hope they sign an extension, but lately it seems that players seem content to take the risk that they won’t be injured or that their level of play will be higher. And that can pay dividends. Just ask Joe Flacco and Mike Wallace.

  • TheBlitz

    It would be foolish to let Hood walk in FA.

    If a deal doesn’t get done this offseason, I would think it’s because he wants to test the free market, and hopefully not because the organisation didn’t try to keep him here.

  • TrueSteelerForLife

    I don’t by any means consider this guy anything special. I believe that we wouldn’t see a drop in performance if either Mclendon or Heyward start in his place. Call me a pessimist however, because I don’t think Keisel can continue to play at his level after this year, and we will still need Hood!

  • Steve

    Ziggy has been good at times and bad at times but never Great. Usually by the 4th year if they don’t make the Pro Bowl they never will. Steelers need outstanding players at the lowest possible price, not High priced players that Dog it like Lamar. Hurt ok but out of shape is NOT an excuse. We had a player that had bum wheels. We ran and he rode a bike and swam.

    Flacko had an outstanding year that I don’t see repeated. When you rattle a QB he thinks about that. We didn’t have much of a pass rush with Lamar and James in the past 2 years. If we can get back to making sacks, QB’s will hear Ghosts and make mistakes, and that is what wins games.

  • mem359

    I’m not sure what to make of your initial comment. James Harrison didn’t even see a lot of snaps until after his 4th season. Aaron Smith wasn’t an All-Pro until his 6th. If great Steelers like them fail your benchmark, maybe it isn’t a fair standard to use against Hood.

  • Pete

    The Steelers front 3 hasn’t been good since Smith, Hampton and Kimo. This is a whole new line and these players have a long way to go before they reach that level. Will they? The jury is out on that one. Hope Hood has a great year because the front 3 have to be good or it will be a tough long year on defense. So far Hood doesn’t warrant his draft position.

  • Rob

    Well said, Smith, Von Olhfen, and Hampton were the best d line we have had in a long time, Still was good with Smith, Kiesel, and Hampton or Hoke. The key was loosing A. Smith best defensive lineman for a real long time.

  • joed32

    If a player doesn’t make the Pro Bowl he should be cut ? No one on the Steeler defense made the Pro Bowl last year. Only Pouncey and Miller on offense.

  • 2443scott

    i dont know about these players now a days if you asked that of steelers pass they tell you what qb i aint scared of any of them …now its like even the rookies feel the need to say other nfl players are best they played against when they dont even play every snap and when they do its limited ..i like ziggy but i dont like this type thing he would been better off saying he hasnt played alot yet to give that opinion ….once you give other teams players that taste you give up that edge to beat them and they use that against you what happens when ziggy is ready to sack flaco and he looks at ziggy and smiles will ziggy say well he get it off anyway so why try to get him ..there is a reason they are called steelers not to kneel and bow and phrase the guy your trying to beat every season .i dont know maybe i am to much a throw back fan to yesterday nfl .

  • Steve

    James got cut so many times I was surprised he came back. Smith was a rarity. James was my favorite Steeler the last 3 years but I don’t think either was HOF material or GREAT as you say.

  • Steve

    Where do you get that a player should be cut if he’s not in the Pro Bowl?? Teams have 11 members on each side of the ball. When players group together and form a cohesive unit that is much stronger than one Great player. James and Troy did not make the Pro Bowl because they were hurt for some time last year. Miller was hurt at the end of 2012 but played at a High caliber through the year. Please read what is printed before making comments about what people say.

  • joed32

    To quote your post.

    “Ziggy has been good at times and bad at times but never Great. Usually by the 4th year if they don’t make the Pro Bowl they never will.”