With our breakdowns of the quarter backs, running backs, wide receivers, tight ends, offensive line, corner backs & Linebackers now in the books, it is now time to move on to the Steelers defensive line. One of the reasons Pittsburgh's defense has been so good over the years is the unheralded play of this group of me. They may not get the stats but it all starts with them up front.
The Steelers run a 3-4 defense and the Linebackers are built to make the plays within that scheme. While the defensive line is built to take on blocks and open lanes for those said LB's. Though they may not get the glory, this group deserves it. With guys like Aaron Smith, Casey "Big Snack" Hampton and Brett Keisel up front, the Steelers defense is always one of the best in the league.
The one flaw with the DL though might be their age. As all three of the starters are in their thirties and are not getting any younger. The plus is the experience they bring to the field and the fact none of them have shown signs of slowing down yet. 'Big Snack' may be getting fatter but his size & strength is what makes him so damn good and allows him to take on two blockers every play. Assistant Head Coach/ Defensive Line Coach John Mitchell believes that the age of the defensive line is still not a concern going into the 2009 season and recently said:
"They may be old, but when you look at these guys, Brett was here four years before he played. Aaron Smith was here two years before he played. Those guys, chronologically, are old, but football-wise, they are not..."I think they can be around for the next three, four or five years."
With that said lets move on to the breakdown of the Steelers defensive line position.
Steelers Position Breakdown of the Defensive Line
Aaron Smith - He may not get much recognition from the national media but he is quite possibly the best 3-4 Defensive End in the NFL. After missing several games due to injury in 2007, Smith started all 16 games for the sixth time in his ten year career in 2008. At age 32 Smith showed no signs of slowing down last year and added 5.5 sacks to his career total of 42.
Smith is a big motor guy who is one of the best in the league against the run and his play dictates how the Steelers defense attacks. His stats may not make him a fantasy hero but his play makes the Steelers defense go round. He is the main cog in the run game and it shows when he is off the field. Smith should have at least two good seasons left in the tank and if he can stay healthy the Steelers defense has a chance to be just as good as the one that helped win Super Bowl XLIII.