Danny Smith Says Steelers Special Teams Unit Will Master Kick Coverage Skills

Pittsburgh Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin tried to hire new special teams coach Danny Smith away from the Washington Redskins three years ago, but the Redskins wouldn\’t allow that to that happen. Now that Smith is back home in Pittsburgh, he fully understands that his stay could be short if his units do not perform well.

“This is a production league,” Smith told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette. “If I produce, I\’ll get to stay, and, if the players produce, they\’ll get to stay. I make it very simple for them.”

The Steelers special teams units hurt them big time last season, and that included a high amount of penalties. The kickoff coverage unit ranked 17th in the league with a 24.0 yard per return average allowed while the punt coverage team ranked even worse as they finished 22nd in the league with a 10.2 yard per return average allowed.

So how does Smith intend to fix that this season?

“There are certain skills and drills you have to master to cover a kick,” Smith said. “I promise you we will master those skills and be [darn] good at it.”

The Steelers special teams units figure to have quite a few new faces in 2013 as Will Allen, Ryan Mundy and Brandon Johnson are no longer with the team. Those three players could very well wind up being replaced by rookies as Shamarko Thomas and Jarvis Jones are both expected to fill two of those three spots.

As far as the punting itself goes, Smith likely had a hand in the team signing veteran Brian Moorman to compete against Drew Butler in training camp. Moorman and Smith have a history together as both were with the Buffalo Bills from 2001 to 2003.

Smith, who began his coaching career locally at Central Catholic High School, told the paper that he is thrilled to return home and coach for the team that he followed during his youth.

“I get emotional talking about it because I haven\’t lived here in a long time. Growing up here, the Steelers really stick with you. They really do,” he said”

I think it\’s safe to say that the Steelers hope Smith sticks in Pittsburgh for quite a long time as well.

  • steeltown

    Looking forward to it Danny.. I think the additions (to the coaching staff) have been well thought out and will improve those areas of the Team respectively. Including the addition of Coach Mann, his no nonsense approach to playing sound detail orientated Football should really help the young WR group.

  • cencalsteeler

    This is an area (special teams) that I’m keeping my eye on. I hope for some major improvement. I don’t know about everyone else, but I sure was tired of seeing a nice run back, only to be negated by a penalty last year.

  • steeltown

    Agreed.. the dumb penalties are what hurt us most regarding field position, we’d give the opposing Teams great field position due to poor coverage and/or penalty and on the other end we’d back Ben up inside the 15yd line regularly due to avoidable penalties in the return game. Im looking for much improvement in these areas as well

  • Shea Fahr

    Can’t wait to see the big 3 hitters (V. Williams, S. Thomas and J. Jones) running down the field to cover kicks. Prayers go out to the returners….

  • SteelSpine

    I love Danny Smith’s confidence. But I can imagine that some of the previous failed ST coaches in their job interviews here & after they arrived, they predicted similar improvement in STs. Hopefully this one will be better.

  • cencalsteeler

    Yes, last years special teams had both the offense and defense having up hill battles. Field position is key on both sides of the ball. It dictates momentum, play calling, time of possession, etc. It is more important than people think. Tomlin got his man in Smith, now lets hope he works wonders.