Denial isn’t just a river in Egypt… Stop me if you haven’t heard this one before.
The Pittsburgh Steelers’ special teams’ units are not just average to below average so far through two games of the preseason. They’ve been this way for a long time. If you choose to deny that by throwing out some numbers like opponents’ kick return average then you don’t really understand special teams.
Through two games, the unit has already given up several sizeable returns on both punt and kick coverage but the naysayers will say, “These are largely guys who won’t even be on the roster in a few weeks.”
Fair enough but then why don’t other teams have similar struggles if we use the same argument?
But let’s talk stats because in this day and age we can’t leave out all the numbers because they prove “everything” don’t they?
Last season, the Steelers ranked 30th in punting and they ranked 28th in punts inside the 20 yard-line. But let’s move to kick returning where the numbers show the Steelers were tied for 26th in the league in kick return yardage at just over 21 yards per return.
Blame that on Dri Archer or whomever else returned kicks but doesn’t it also say something about the lack of blocking and/or the lack of scheme?
Only one time did the Steelers have a kickoff return longer than 40 yards. They had 22 returns of +20 yards which ranked them 22nd in the league.
To be fair, the Steelers did average 10 yards per punt return which ranked them 11th overall. I could say a lot of that’s on Antonio Brown but I’ll give credit to the entire unit instead.
Perhaps the most alarming thing about the Steelers’ special teams units are the penalties. The Steelers were 7th in the NFL in penalties on special teams with 24 which was just four flags shy of the most penalized team in this area.
Of those penalties, the Steelers led the league in pre-snap penalties on special teams with eight.
Teams that pay more attention to the little things on special teams tend to be more successful. Look at the success of the Patriots and Ravens in recent years. They just don’t get beat in this area. If it sounds like I’m pointing the finger at ST Coach Danny Smith then I’m guilty.
He has to do a better job and storming up and down the sidelines with his intense look isn’t going to do it. The bigger issue for me is the reluctance of even people who follow this team like a shadow who refuse to acknowledge that there’s a problem.
Stats Courtesy NFL.com
Photo Courtesy Steelers.com