Thursday, October 15, 2009

Aaron Smith's Impact

The media and fans alike are now suddenly acknowledging just how important Aaron Smith has been to the success of the Steelers' defense in defending the run; and as simple, declarative statements are made as to the impact of his loss there is very little . . . oh, what do you call that . . . evidence . . . being offered up. So, in order to place Aaron Smith's value in some kind of context, we present the numbers.

As has been mentioned here before, the end of the 2007 season (the last time Mr. Smith missed significant time) saw the Steelers' defense transformed from the NFL's #1 unit to something very less fearsome. In the final six games of the 2007 season (five regular season games and one playoff game) the Pittsburgh defense surrendered 725 yards on 158 carries, for a 4.59 yards per carry average. By way of contrast in the preceding eleven games, all of which Mr. Smith played, the defense gave up 848 yards on 232 carries, for a 3.66 yards per carry average.

Of course 2008 saw Mr. Smith return to the lineup, and during last season the defense gave up an average of 4.0 yards, or more, per carry twice ~ 4.0 yards per carry versus the Redskins and 6.1 yards per carry versus New England.

Finally, so far this season the defense has surrendered an average of 4.0 yards, or more, per carry twice ~ against Cincinnati (19 carries, 100 yards, 5.3 yards per carry) and Detroit (110 yards, 25 carries, 4.4 yards per carry).

I do not expect much from the Browns ~ certainly they will try to run, and there is little doubt that they will run at whomever is on the field for Mr. Smith ~ but the real concern is October 25th when the Steelers host Adrian Peterson. Once can only hope that the committee of players replacing Aaron Smith is up to the task.