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.