Steelers defensive end Hood out for more 'splash plays'
Ziggy Hood knows in the increasingly expansive world of social media, everything he does on the football field will be scrutinized.
The Steelers defensive end keeps his distance from cyberspace, in part, because he views it as a distraction.
It's not that Hood's skin isn't thick enough. It's about focusing on his responsibilities with football and family.
“I can care less what other people think,” Hood said. “I guarantee you if those folks played this position, they wouldn't last one day doing it.”
Hood, who didn't miss a game his first four seasons, enters this year carrying the burden of greater expectations. His detractors are demanding he bolster his numbers from 2012: three sacks, 40 tackles and no forced fumbles.
“I do whatever coaches tell me to do, and if that is to bring the heat on the quarterback, then I'll do it,” Hood said. “I'm never trying to make a play for myself. It's all about the team.”
While the numbers pale in comparison to other defensive ends in the AFC — including J.J. Watt of Houston and Elvis Dumervil of Baltimore — Hood said repeatedly it's not about individual numbers. Instead, he points to the Steelers' defense being ranked No. 1 in the NFL the past two seasons.
Still, the expectations are that Hood could apply more pressure on quarterbacks. And he could jar the ball loose more often, considering the Steelers were No. 2 against the run in the AFC last season.
“I'm always going to strive to be the best at whatever I do,” Hood said. “I want to be the best husband, the best father and best defensive end.
“My whole perception hasn't change. I want to help this defense achieve its main goal of beingNo. 1 and helping this team get into the playoffs.”
For the most part, Hood's role in the Steelers' 3-4 defense is different than that of Watts, who had an NFL-best 20 1⁄2 sacks in 2012. The defensive front, which also consists of end Brett Keisel and first-year starting nose tackle Steve McLendon, is to keep blockers clear of the linebackers.
“It takes a guy who isn't selfish to allow other guys to make plays,” Hood said. “Whatever you do, you can't let your guys go and then the linebacker can't make plays. We do a great job of letting this defense flourish.
“Sure, it's hard to compete with J.J. Watts or other guys putting up big numbers. It's totally different defenses, which allow their playmakers to make plays. When we have an opportunity to make splash plays, we have to take advantage of it.”
Defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau isn't worried about Hood. For him, numbers don't matter.
“Our defense is built on the defensive line,” LeBeau said. “They might not be the ones to get the splash plays, but if the defensive line isn't getting where they need to get, then you sure enough aren't going to defend a running back like Chris Johnson.
“Ziggy is a constant contributor to our defense. The one thing we like about Ziggy is he's always ready to play.”
Hood is ready to silence his critics.
Yet, McLendon argues that only a few understand what his teammate's role is on a defense in which linebackers Lawrence Timmons and LaMarr Woodley are the playmakers.
“We don't want you to understand what we do,” McLendon said. “We just want you to see how successful we are. We want to be No. 1 in defense. We'll let our linebackers make the plays, but we'll keep them clean.”
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.