After several indications that special teams coach Danny Smith could be on his way out of Washington, it has finally happened. The Pittsburgh Steelers, a team that has reportedly pursued Smith over the past couple of seasons, has now hired him to man the same position he once held in D.C.
Source: Redskins special teams coach Danny Smith leaving for Steelers. They've been after him for a while. Pittsburgh is home.— Dan Hellie (@DanHellie) January 30, 2013
Smith, a Pittsburgh native with family still in the area, had been the Redskins special teams coach since 2004. In that time, football metrics analysts such as Pro Football Focus and Football Outsiders have indicated that the Redskins special teams units have been underwhelming during Smith's tenure.
Since 2004, Football Outsiders' weighted DVOA of Redskins special teams units has them ranked 25th, 6th, 11th, 16th, 18th, 27th, 26th, 22nd and 30th in the NFL.
Pro Football Focus' data only goes back as far as 2008, but their grades for the Redskins special teams ranks them 26th, 32nd, 16th, 27th and 26th in the NFL.
Smith's coaching was heavily scrutinized during the 2011 season when the Redskins had a league-high five field goals blocked and had two punts blocked in addition to that. Consistency in the kicking game was a problem between the recent efforts of Billy Cundiff and Graham Gano.
The return game appeared to be as much of a problem, as return man Brandon Banks struggled with getting decent field position for the offense, especially in 2011 when he fumbled seven times.
In 2012, the same inconsistencies were on display early on, but improved down the stretch. The addition of kicker Kai Forbath undoubtedly helped the Redskins win a slew of close games in the second half of the season, and Niles Paul and Richard Crawford flashed potential and consistency in the return game. Special teams ace Lorenzo Alexander also earned his first career nod to the Pro Bowl.