Return To Pittsburgh Didn\’t Go Well For Danny Smith

The Pittsburgh Steelers hired Danny Smith away from the Washington Redskins during the offseason to replace Amos Jones as the special teams coordinator, but Smith\’s return home to the area that he was born and raised in Saturday night in the preseason opener against the New York Giants didn\’t go well.

The Steelers special teams performance wasn\’t good at all, and it started off on the wrong foot when linebacker Marshall McFadden was flagged for being an ineligible man downfield that negated a 55-yard punt by Drew Butler. On the ensuing punt, safety DaMon Cromartie-Smith fell for a simple outside-in move by rookie Damontre Moore, which resulted in a blocked punt.

The night never got any better from there as rookie wide receiver Reggie Dunn had no chance to return a 52-yard punt late in the first half as several Steelers players missed blocking assignments.

On Butler\’s last punt of the first half from the Steelers own 45-yard-line, the second-year punter had too much distance and it went into the end zone for a touchback and a net of just 35 yards.

The second half was just as bad as the first as rookie wide receiver Justin Brown was flagged for an illegal block in the back on the Giants first punt of the second half. That of course resulted in a safety on the very next play.

David Gilreath then fumbled away a punt a few opportunities later, and veteran punter Brian Moorman followed that up with a 32-yard net punt from the Steelers 48-yard-line. Prior to that muff, Gilreath also decided to return a punt from the Steelers own 3-yard-line. I almost forgot about that.

Somewhere in there, rookie wide receiver J.D. Woods brought out a kick from deep in the end zone and while he did return it 27 yards to the 18-yard-line, it essentially cost them two yards and risked possibly much more.

Smith now has a lot of film to go through and while what we saw was pretty ugly, he still has plenty of time to fix things. Next week, Smith will return to Washington to play his former team and hopefully that return is better than the ones the Steelers had against the Giants.

  • TJimmy

    The Steelers haven’t played very well on special teams since Tomlin fired the special teams coach in the middle of the last preseason.

  • steeltown

    The Gilreath and DCSmith errors were huge.

    That 55yd punt by Butler was impressive, big air time, that flag for ineligible hurt the outcome, but nice punt none the less and that blocked punt wasn’t his fault, he looked good in his limited time.

    The obvious issues are with the return game.. most of these kids were way too aggressive with returning kicks as they are ALL fighting for a roster spot. Yet again, mostly mental errors

  • Shannon Stephenson


  • Shannon Stephenson

    I felt that the coverage teams were excellent. the gunners really got after the returners. Butler seems to be winning the spot for punter. Just wanted to add something positive because it was pretty awful besides that.

  • Dom

    Guys remember first pre-season game, everything should be smoothed out by 1st game of the season.

  • SteelerFanInPatsland

    It appeared that at 4:38 of the 4th quarter the Steelers had to call time out on the Giant’s last field goal attempt because of 12 men on the field.

  • Gautama Om

    Be careful. Tomlin is an untouchable subject amongst the Steelers Homers.

  • Patrick

    Steelers really suck at special teams, Tomlin needs to fire that Smith dude

  • Christopher Wilkes

    That punt by Moorman to midfield was horrible. I don’t want to hear any “it’s only the first preseason game” excuses for special teams either. These guys are supposed to be professionals, and this unit was far from it. Danny Smith better start turning these guys around quick.

  • charles

    Agreed. That many errors reflects on the coaching. Tomlin may need to watch the waiver wires for ST coach.

  • James Kling

    The Steelers appear to be in regular season form on special teams.

    Wish I had some good news.

  • Fu-Schnickens

    The two penalties by Worilds were terrible…THAT has nothing to do with anything other than stupid. Just ask Tomlin. Terrible work from a seasoned vet who should know better. Gilreath’s muffed punt was almost as bad.

  • Tom

    Time to bring in Mike Westhoff as a “consultant”

  • Redskins Gold Pants

    Smith wasn’t very good in Washington. He turned Randel El into a side to side dancing, had plenty of FGs blocked, and was the one who would talk the HC into challenging at the wrong time.

    I dig the Steelers…I really do. So, do yourselves a favor and make this a one year thing. He might be loud and full of energy. But if he were THAT good, he wouldn’t have been a ST coach without a bump up for so long.

  • treeher

    I’m a gray-beard, been a Stillers fan for more than 50 years. I can remember years when they WON games because of their special teams. Last couple years have been the worst in memory, and this first game was one of the worst of the worst. The optimist says that some players were too jacked up, trying to impress. To me, that speaks of lack of talent. They couldn’t kick the ball, they couldn’t catch the ball, and they had penalties. Pretty basic stuff. My expectations are so low …