As was reported previously on Behind The Steel Curtain, the Pittsburgh Steelers had requested permission for the second time to interview Washington Redskins special teams coach, Danny Smith. This time they were granted permission and the interview took place, and apparently it was a successful one.
Dan Hellie, of Washington D.C. NBC affiliate WRC, originally reported sources claiming Smith was preparing to become the new ST coach in Pitsburgh. Hellie's job requires him to maintain an intimacy with the team he is paid to follow. While his report remained unconfirmed until 9:46 pm ET, there was little reason to believe he would fabricate a definite departure of a positional coach.
In Pittsburgh, Smith will have plenty to do. While the Steelers were able to create room for returners to create positive field position in 2012, poor discipline and foolish penalties repeatedly negated any progress and momentum. The team also seeks to improve its kick coverage units, which allowed a few untimely returns in crucial moments.
Sophomore punter Drew Butler will require some fine tuning as he played like an un-drafted rookie at times during 2012, failing to trap opponents in their own territory or affect the battle for field position positively on a consistent basis. Mostly-reliable Shaun Suisham could become a cap casualty in 2013, forcing the team to develop an unestablished youngster.
To top it off, the team's resident long-snapper Greg Warren is an unrestricted free agent whose accrued seasons may demand a higher salary than the team is willing to commit. Warren has been solid throughout his time in Pittsburgh, although his worst snap of the season played a part in the Steelers demise during the final stretch of the 2012 regular season.
While Smith's presence does not automatically mean increased production or guaranteed fixes, perhaps a fresh perspective may be enough for the Steelers special teams units to break out of some counter-productive bad habits.