Monday, December 31, 2007

Maybe it's a Little of Both

The folks out Football Outsiders asserted that the Steelers' defense is missing Ryan Clark, and their arguments are very intriguing. However, there may be someone else whose absence is even more significant.

During the Steelers' radio broadcast Craig Wolfley spoke to the season-ending injury of Aaron Smith, and how much impact it has had on the effectiveness of the defense. We love Aaron Smith and, despite going to the Pro Bowl last season, really believe he doesn't receive the respect he deserves. But we were dubious as to just how big an impact his departure has had. However, the numbers never lie and here are the opponent rushing totals for the 11 games in which Mr. Smith played:

OpponentYds Rushing
San Francisco91
N.Y. Jets151
Cincinnati (Game #2)74
New England22
Total Rushing Yards789
Per Game Average71.73

Meanwhile, here's how things have looked in the five games Aaron Smith missed this season:

OpponentYds Rushing
Cincinnati (Game #1)91
Baltimore (Game #1)64
St. Louis90
Baltimore (Game #2)180
Total Rushing Yards649
Per Game Average129.8

The opponent's per game rushing average shows an increase of 55.26% without Aaron Smith; and while that may not prove causation it's a far more substantial argument than has been made for any other member of the Steelers' defense.



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