We resume our countdown of the Top 5 Disappointments of 2006 at #2: Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel.
Much was made of the poor performance of our secondary in 2006. The Steelers' secondary yieled 3393 yards in 2006 and 21 TDs last year. While not terrible numbers, they're certainly not impressive and befitting of a defending Super Bowl Championship defense. Our 2005 secondary, which by no means was one of the better units in Steelers history, was still significantly better in every major statistical category, including sacks. In 2005 we recorded 47 sacks; last year, only 39.
That starts up front with Aaron Smtih and Brett Keisel, both of whom were projected to have big years in 2006. Keisel in particular was expected to have a break-out year of sorts. Given his strong performance at training camp last year, I even became a believer at one point. No more.
Smith, who is paid pretty damn well, recorded 4.5 sacks last year; Kiesel got to the quarterback 5.5 times. Again, these aren't disastrous totals. A pass rusher can have a significant impact on a game without actually recording sacks and/or tackles for loss. This rarely, if ever, happend with Smith and Keisel. Too often opposing quarterbacks had their way with our seceondary because they had all day in the pocket to carefully go through their progressions. That has to change if we are going to be a more effective defense next year.
I just don't think Aaron Smith and Brett Keisel have what it takes to anchor a Super-Bowl contending pass rush. I'm sorry, I just don't. I do think the two of them have value, but I sure hope there is less resposibility on their shoulders to provide the type of pressure needed to win on a weekly basis in the NFL.