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View Full Version : Steelers defensive line coach finding few dents in Hood


Galax Steeler
08-16-2009, 06:50 AM
While the rest of his defensive linemates were being carted to the cafeteria for lunch, Ziggy Hood and the other rookies, Sonny Harris and Steve McLendon, were still in the meeting room, getting their moves, technique and perhaps their dignity stripped to the core by defensive line coach John Mitchell.

It is Mitchell's job, some say his passion, to take all rookie linemen, throw away everything they have learned from any previous regime, and teach them the way he wants Steelers linemen to perform. Stand low. Stay square. Maintain pad level. Use your hands.

"If you don't stop your old habits, he'll keep breaking you down," said backup nose tackle Chris Hoke. "He does a good job of making you do it the Steelers' way, the way we play here. It's hard sometimes because you've been doing those old habits for a long time. But he'll break down their old habits."

Mitchell is the ultimate restoration mechanic: He takes apart the engine, strips away all the grime and builds it back to his desired performance. He did it with Hoke and Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel -- all mid- to low-round draft picks -- and he is doing it with Hood, even though the 6-foot-4, 305-pound rookie is a No. 1 draft choice.

"That's what I try to do," said Mitchell, who begins his 16th season as defensive line coach, the longest-tenured member of the Steelers' coaching staff. "I try to make them understand what they did where they came from was great, but it's a different concept here, and you got to buy into that. I work real hard to get guys to do that."

Apparently, he does not have to do it too hard with Hood.

Not only has he been a standout through two weeks of training camp, he stood out in the preseason opener Thursday night against the Arizona Cardinals, registering a sack and beating a double-team block to hurry Cardinals quarterback Brian St. Pierre into a throw that was intercepted and returned 42 yards by rookie cornerback Joe Burnett.

Hood has been doing that almost since the first of camp, and it has not surprised Mitchell, who is a tough critic.

"I thought Ziggy played really well," Mitchell said. "There are a lot of things he has to do on this level to become the type of player he wants to be. This was his first professional game, and I think he reverted back to some of the things he did in college, but that's to be expected. I told [defensive coordinator] Dick [LeBeau] and [coach] Mike [Tomlin], for the group I have, they're farther along than any group I've had."

He was referring to Harris, a sixth-round draft choice from Oregon; and McLendon, a 6-foot-4, 280-pound free agent from Troy. And, of course, Hood.

The Steelers have been unable to re-stock their defensive line with young players, despite drafting players such as Ryan McBean (2007) and Orien Harris (2006) in the fourth round and Shaun Nua (2005) and Eric Taylor (2004) in the seventh round. That's part of the reason why the youngest player on the line is backup Nick Eason (29), who joined the team in free agency in 2007.

Hood is the first defensive lineman taken in the first round since nose tackle Casey Hampton in 2001 and the first defensive end since Aaron Jones in 1988.

"The thing I like about all three of them is, combined, they played about 80 plays [against Arizona] and only had two mental errors," Mitchell said. "You get three guys playing that many plays as first-time guys in the NFL, I was really pleased. All three are so further along than any group I've ever had here, and this is my 16th year here."

Hood in particular.

Not only is he developing faster than expected, he showed he can use his hands inside to get off blocks and run to the ball -- something Mitchell stresses. That is what he did when he beat the double-team and pressured St. Pierre into the errant throw.

"I saw some good things, I saw some good pressure," Hood said. "I need to stop thinking so much and start going out and playing ball."

None of his teammates thought he looked tentative in his first outing.

"He's ahead of anybody I've seen coming in," said Smith, who begins his 11th season. "He's a talented kid. He's a smart kid. He understands it more than the rest of us did as a rookie. I would have cut me my rookie year."

Then Smith added, "There's a reason he's a first-rounder. Usually, a first-rounder is the complete package. He's a big, strong kid who works hard. He is the complete package."

Or will be, once Mitchell is done with him.

http://www.post-gazette.com/pg/09228/991207-66.stm

Slanted August
08-16-2009, 07:20 AM
Nice Post

Thanks for sharing

Texasteel
08-16-2009, 07:32 AM
Hood may play more this year that I thought he would. Its nice to hear that the others are looking good as well.

HometownGal
08-16-2009, 07:50 AM
What an awesome read! I think we all knew going into TC that Ziggy was going to be a standout, work very hard and earn the respect of his coaches and teammates. :tt03: FEAR DA ZIG! :banana:

Seems we never hear much about John Mitchell and what an excellent job he has done with our DL. It was good to read about him, how hard he pushes his players and the praise he has for "his youngins"! :hatsoff::drink:

GBMelBlount
08-16-2009, 07:51 AM
I hope Harris and McLendon develop better than some of our more recent (later round) picks. It's tough refortifying an aging line with late picks year after year.

pancake
08-16-2009, 07:56 AM
I look for Harris to make the squad also...

mulldog24
08-16-2009, 08:07 AM
Great read Galax! I liked what I saw out of our young D-line the other night, Hood looked good and I liked what I saw out of Harris as he got a great push on the Cards' O-line. I hope these guys develop into solid starters. With a coach like Mitchell I think they will.

PA/VA Guy
08-16-2009, 08:30 AM
When asked about his plans for his rookie signing bonus, Ziggy replied

"Buy a better folder for my playbook"


Got to love a guy like that!
:noidea:

El-Gonzo Jackson
08-16-2009, 08:46 AM
I watched the game some more last night and have to say that I was really impressed with the way Sonny Harris pushed the pocket in passing situations.

Harris looked to be more of a physical force than Hood, but Hood seemed to make contact and then "get skinny" to slip thru gaps. I think Sonny Harris is gonna be a nice late round find as a 3-4 DE.

lamberts-lost-tooth
08-16-2009, 08:58 AM
I watched the game some more last night and have to say that I was really impressed with the way Sonny Harris pushed the pocket in passing situations.

Harris looked to be more of a physical force than Hood, but Hood seemed to make contact and then "get skinny" to slip thru gaps. I think Sonny Harris is gonna be a nice late round find as a 3-4 DE.

MAN!!..I love to hear that.

Harris wasnt even on my radar as a late round DE. If he pans out and can become even a very good rotation DE I will be very happy.

I know they said Ra'shon Harris on draft day...but in my mind I kept thinking "Oh boy, another Orion Harris"!!!

Couldnt be more thrilled to hear that he may have what it takes to stay with the team.

El-Gonzo Jackson
08-16-2009, 09:05 AM
MAN!!..I love to hear that.

Harris wasnt even on my radar as a late round DE. If he pans out and can become even a very good rotation DE I will be very happy.

I know they said Ra'shon Harris on draft day...but in my mind I kept thinking "Oh boy, another Orion Harris"!!!

Couldnt be more thrilled to hear that he may have what it takes to stay with the team.

LLT, its just my opinion, so who knows. The cool thing with Sonny Harris was he locked onto his blocker and drove him with extended arms backwards into the pocket or rushing lanes much the way Aaron Smith does.

Part of the job of a 3-4 DE is to push his man or occupy 2 blockers so that the LB's can flow to the ball and Harris looked to be a physical force doing that against 2nd stringers. Hood too did that, but didnt seem content to "push the pocket", rather he slipped his guy a few times to get into the backfield. Maybe that is what coach Mitchell is talking about that Hood wasnt being truly responsible for his gaps. :noidea:

Either way, Hood is a keeper, Harris looked like he is too in this 1 preseason game and McLendon showed flashes, but will be in tough to make the PS.

lamberts-lost-tooth
08-16-2009, 09:36 AM
LLT, its just my opinion, so who knows. The cool thing with Sonny Harris was he locked onto his blocker and drove him with extended arms backwards into the pocket or rushing lanes much the way Aaron Smith does.

Part of the job of a 3-4 DE is to push his man or occupy 2 blockers so that the LB's can flow to the ball and Harris looked to be a physical force doing that against 2nd stringers. Hood too did that, but didnt seem content to "push the pocket", rather he slipped his guy a few times to get into the backfield. Maybe that is what coach Mitchell is talking about that Hood wasnt being truly responsible for his gaps. :noidea:

Either way, Hood is a keeper, Harris looked like he is too in this 1 preseason game and McLendon showed flashes, but will be in tough to make the PS.

Who knows?...Maybe Harris takes the same route as Keisel ..and ends up being a great pick in the later rounds.

Appreciate your talking points...I missed the whole fricken game and have to rely on discussion and highlights until next week.

OneForTheToe
08-16-2009, 03:15 PM
I watched the game some more last night and have to say that I was really impressed with the way Sonny Harris pushed the pocket in passing situations.

Harris looked to be more of a physical force than Hood, but Hood seemed to make contact and then "get skinny" to slip thru gaps. I think Sonny Harris is gonna be a nice late round find as a 3-4 DE.


That is great. I just hope we can store Sonny away on the P.S for a year without somebody picking him up. It is going to be real hard to find a spot on the roster for him. Keeping two rookies as backups isn't generally the way the Steelers go. Unless, someway we can find an extra roster spot for a d'lineman.

tony hipchest
08-16-2009, 04:00 PM
MAN!!..I love to hear that.

Harris wasnt even on my radar as a late round DE. If he pans out and can become even a very good rotation DE I will be very happy.

I know they said Ra'shon Harris on draft day...but in my mind I kept thinking "Oh boy, another Orion Harris"!!!

Couldnt be more thrilled to hear that he may have what it takes to stay with the team.from jim wexells twitter-

On Tape: Sonny Harris outplayed Ziggy Hood in opener. This and other revelations 5:45 p.m. SCI-TV at http://pit.scout.com/ #Steelers

interesting things are going on with keisel and an extension. this could be another case where the coaches and FO may be on a different page.

we can only keep so many.

stillers4me
08-16-2009, 04:06 PM
jim wexell :Goal line: Redman scores 3 vs 1st team, 2 vs 2nd team, carried all 7. Goal line back is born!
6 minutes ago from txt

jimwexell: Wow! Capizzi flashed immense potential w/ punch that buckled Kirschke's knees' slumped to ground.
15 minutes ago from txt

Preacher
08-16-2009, 04:10 PM
When asked about his plans for his rookie signing bonus, Ziggy replied

"Buy a better folder for my playbook"


Got to love a guy like that!
:noidea:

:link:

Cause it is just too good to be true!

tony hipchest
08-16-2009, 04:22 PM
in fairness to ryan mcbean and orien harris, this is a tuff squad to make as a DE. harris is still floating around and mcbean was listed as the 1st team starter for denves pre-season opener. yes their defense sucks, but still...

jim wexell :Goal line: Redman scores 3 vs 1st team, 2 vs 2nd team, carried all 7. Goal line back is born!
6 minutes ago from txt

jimwexell: Wow! Capizzi flashed immense potential w/ punch that buckled Kirschke's knees' slumped to ground.
15 minutes ago from txt

some good stuff there-

G R.Foster -- best push in run game Thurs -- to take reps at OT t/week. Adding versatility a sign undrafted rook will make team.

also says canadian returner (logan) is sucking and may never see pre-season game action. :wave:

OneForTheToe
08-16-2009, 04:37 PM
Thanks for the updates Tony. I lke reading them.


Still, I think we need a twitter w*ore icon.:flap:

#1 Big Ben Fan
08-16-2009, 04:55 PM
Ziggy Hood will upgrade our interior pass rush in our sub package defenses. The questions on him was he an ideal fit for a 3-4 DE and if he could become a force in stopping the run. The article proves if any coach can mold Hood and even Harris into a 3-4 DL its John Mitchell. I'm so anxious to see the continued growth of these talented young DL.

John Mitchell is one of the most under-rated coaches in the entire NFL.

The Duke
08-16-2009, 08:11 PM
harris is still floating around and mcbean was listed as the 1st team starter for denves pre-season opener. yes their defense sucks, but still...





btw, McBean did very good in his denver debut, constantly collapsing the pocket and allowing the inexperienced linebackers in their system make the plays. It was the 49ers oline but still

I take away everything bad I said about him earlier this offseason. for now....

PA/VA Guy
08-17-2009, 06:01 PM
:link:

Cause it is just too good to be true!



I saw it in the Steelers Digest.
:noidea: