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.