Steelers fans got the news we all braced for on Monday afternoon, highly dependable kicker Shaun Suisham tore his ACL and is done for the season.
The Steelers will try-out a trio of options on Tuesday to take over including veteran Jay Feely, Alex Henery, and Garret Hartley. Not exactly the best options we could hope for.
There could be some more options as extra camp legs start to get cut around the league. Last season Detroit desperately needed a kicker, and Denver suddenly cut Matt Prater. Maybe the Steelers get that lucky.
I’m not completely panicked. I think that the Steelers offense will improve this season so that having someone like Jay Feely may not completely doom the season.
The new NFL rules on extra points does have me thinking though. With extra points now being a 33 yard try, they’re not longer gimme’s. With Shaun Suisham I don’t think you’re too worried, but with a shaky kicker?
The new rule reminds me of a High School coach named Kevin Kelley in Little Rock Arkansas; who started to grab national attention in 2013. Coach Kelley had a 124-22 record in 2013, and 3 state titles… and was winning in an extremely unconventional way.
Kelley adamantly defended the advantages of going for it on every 4th down, and onside kicking every time. His team was converting 4th downs 50% of the time, and recovering about 1 out of every 5 onside kicks. He claimed the numbers showed he’d win more games this way.
I’m not advocating that, but I do think that the new rules leave room for a team to possibly get creative. With extra points being tougher, meaning more misses, with a shaky kicker, at Heinz Field…
All those things could add up to meaning going for 2 in some situations may be the correct move statistically.
Even before the bad news on Suisham, Mike Tomlin started right out of the gate at OTA’s practicing their two point conversions, and from the sound of this article, Coach Tomlin and Ben Roethlisberger had some sort of conversation in the off-season about it.
As that article points out, Mike Tomlin is 10 of 13 in his career on conversions. That’s not a big sample size, but it is promising. To be worth it the team would obviously need to be successful most of the time. At 50% it would be the same as kicking a short extra point every time.
It’s the type of move that not many coaches would make… because if it doesn’t work they’re going to be crucified by the media and fan base. If it works though, they’re a visionary.
I think that the Steelers offense could be strong enough from the 2 yard line to make it worth it.
Antonio Brown is obviously uncoverable, and could work underneath. Martavis Bryant is a tough matchup in the fade game. Despite his awful drop Sunday night, Jesse James has shown a lot of promise in the redzone early in camp. Heath and Spaeth are big targets as well, and could make for some really tough to cover 3-TE sets. Big Ben is dangerous on the sneak. Le’Veon Bell is more than capable of pounding the ball. Dri Archer could get involved on swing passes, shovel passes, and end-arounds… or even just as a decoy.
The Steelers offense should score a lot of touchdowns this season. If they’re getting 8 points on most of them, it could really make them hard to beat… and could start a trend that other teams copy in the NFL going forward.