A Blast from the Past: Questions We Were Debating Back in the Day III

Ben’s Giant Shoe

Hopefully you know the drill by now, so we’re going to jump right into what was exercising us back in 2011.

As we saw in last Sunday’s post, the secondary has been under the lens since—well, probably since the forward pass became a legal play in football. But it certainly has created a lot of angst in Steeler Nation. So what other questions look remarkably topical?

Hombre’s questions ran the gamut, from asking about the “Lake Effect” (from Ivan’s first quarter report in which he posited it, referring to newly signed defensive backs coach Carnell Lake) to whether Bruce Arians had ever called a better game than he did the previous Sunday.

That game would be against the Tennessee Titans, a team against whom the Steelers had struggled. The Steelers were 4-11 against the Titans since they became the Titans in 1997. However, the worm turned, through the stupid actions of a couple of their troubled players. (Sound familiar?) Yes, I’m referring to The Curse of the Terrible Towel. Be sure to watch the whole video, as there is a very interesting denouement:

And although there was a half-hearted attempt on the part of said troubled players to make it right, it is clear from the video that no true repentance was intended, and thus the 4-1 Titans lost to a dominate Steelers offense.

As Neal Coolong wrote after the game:

When the Steelers protect Roethlisberger, good things happen. That was the sentiment veteran LT Max Starks shared after Sunday’s 38-17 win over Tennessee.

“Our biggest goal was to keep (Roethlisberger) upright,” Starks said. “And we knew he’d perform if we did that.”

Nevermind the trademarked “Roethlisberger Shoe” he wore to protect a sprained foot sustained after multiple hits from failed protection in the first four games of the season. Roethlisberger relied on some shored up protection and an offensive game plan that attacked the short-to-mid level of the middle of the field to tie the franchise record of five touchdown passes – a mark he shares with Terry Bradshaw and Mark Malone.

The Titans would end the season 9-7, their best record since the Towel stomping, and miss the playoffs yet again. In fact, they haven’t made the playoffs since losing in the first round to the Ravens in January 2009, a few weeks after beating the Steelers and stomping the Towel.

But to return to the Burning Questions, the one it seemed would be most interesting to think about was this:

5. The Steelers coverage and return units are playing fabulously. Yet both sides of the place kicking units have suffered critical breakdowns and we’ve had a punt blocked. Is your special teams glass half full or half empty?

It sounds a lot like the early part of 2015, doesn’t it?

Here’s what people were saying in 2011:

This rather cryptic comment is from tannofsteel84:

My glass is twice as big as it needs to be.

And another, from Billy52:

A glass that is half empty is by definition half full.

SteeladyinVA had this to say (trust a woman to actually get to the point : ):

The addition of Antonio Brown has provided the spark that the Steelers needed on STs. I thought that when they cut Anthony Madison (who was one of my favorite players) that they would suck again, since he was such a great tackler. When they cut him in 2009, I think it was, they ended up having to resign him in the middle of the season because I believe opposing teams had 5 punts returned for TDs and we now hold the dubious record for the most punt returns for a TD in a season by our opponents. This year, I have been pleasantly surprised so far…so definitely half full at this point.

And a really ironic one, considering the past few years, by lottwasgangsta:

Half-full. Suisham is inconsistent, but the Steelers can upgrade next year. We’re just hoping that we don’t have many games decided by 3 points in a year where points are being scored in droves. Antonio Brown has been exciting on returns. The young CBs, together with Battle, have done a nice job on returns.

More irony, from Steelzombie

Half empty, Sushiam is garbage, and the blocking terrible. The coverage on punts pretty damn good but Kickoff returns have had some scares.

I think the above comment shows the wisdom of reserving judgment and refraining from using pejorative language against a player… You can probably guess who made this response:

“Suisham is garbage”

The “garbage” kicker was 1/1 on FG, 5/5 on extra points, and kicked a whole lot of TBs. What more do you want? I think that he just needs his confidence to continue to grow to become a “money” kicker. He’s an admirable person and a more-than-competent kicker.

Billy Cundiff, the Ravens kicker that has blown everyone away, knocked around the league on a number of different teams (not unlike Suisham) before he settled in at Baltimore. People develop at differing rates.

I really dislike the flip characterization of a player as “garbage,” and I’ve decided to take on as a personal crusade to make people support statements like that. Preferably using terms that are not so emotionally loaded and otherwise meaningless as “garbage,” such as “unreliable” or “inconsistent.” Or possibly even a technical explanation of the shortcomings of the player, supported by specific in-game incidents.

I’m sorry that you just happened to be the first victim of my crusade, Steel… : )

Steel34D came rushing in to refute this comment:

Suisham had a good day but here is what I mean,

Shaun Suisham is 1-3 on field goals from 30-39 yards, that is a critical range where if the offense provides him that close (roughly the 20-29 yard line) he should make it period!

Oh and he has a 66% field goal percentage as of this year that is good for 5th worst in the league by all player who have kicked field goals, just in front of Jay Feely and just behind Graham Gano. 2nd to last for kicker that have played in at least 4 games.

His career field goal percentage is 79.9% however in that 30-39 yard range which as I stated is critical points be scored he is 28-37 which is a 75.6 field goal percentage.

Let’s look at Billy Cundiff since you brought him up. 5-5 from 30-39 yards and is 9-11 on total field goals where his only 2 misses were from 50+ yards. Something the Steelers would never try with Suisham. Well Steel34D I stated he was a journeyman prior to going to the Ravens. Yeah his first four seasons in the NFL he was bad with Dallas taking away those years 53-64, 83% in his last 5 years including this one. Suisham taking away his first four years, he is 66- 84 or 78%. And Suisham has a history since he began in the NFL of having a good year than a poor year, this is a trend you can’t deny. Oh and to top it off he only has one year where he has played all 16 games and had a field goal percentage greater than 80%.

How about our former kicker Jeff Reed, not going to argue he was bad last year but he was still 5-5 from 30-39yards that critical range. His career form 30-39yards 81-89 or 91% from that critical range and his career FG% is 82.2% having only three years out of nine where he was less than 80% in field goal percentage. He also went 9-10 after being cut last year by us.

Again this year 15 kicker have tried at least 3 FGs from 30-39 yards, that critical range I keep talking about, Suisham has the lowest % made at 33%, Graham Gano is next at 40%, then the next lowest is 66%, While 9 of those kickers are 100% from that range.

Maybe not what you consider “garbage” but definitely not up to par and if the trend continues he probably wont be. Again this post didn’t even mention the fact he does’t have the leg to kick 50+ yards consistently.

Supported enough?

Funnily enough, an untrained partisan such as myself eventually ended up being more correct than a trained observer such as Steel34D. And the irony continues:

stillergorillar:

One of those misses was a block, which is entirely on the line not Suisham. I am not a big fan of Suisham, nor an apologist, but the whole picture has to be taken into context. There is absolutely no excuse for missing a 30-39 yarder in a dome, however I don’t think that makes him garbage as he did make two 40+ yard FG in that same game. He isn’t our long term answer but I am okay with him in the interim.

Billy52 chimed in:

Absolutely agree.

Experience and psychology are keys for place kickers; not all of them are fast-developers. You’re right that Suisham is a stand-up guy who’s a credit to our organization. Ever since we signed him, I’ve been pulling for this guy to leave behind the uncertainties of his former NFL experiences and become the kicker that the Steelers need. So far, so good I’d say.

He also commented that Antonio Brown was the best returner he had seen since Swann. Good call.

And tannofsteel84 finished with this:

Half full, blocking assignments can be easily corrected. Al Everest has been good since he has been here, I’ll give him some time to fix the issue. Its more about guys executing than anything else though. The next time we go out to kick I expect Tomlin to tell the guys if you miss your assignment and it results in a blocked kick, Wednesday practice, I am going to unleash hell on you. Then the guys shrug and look at each other and say, ‘Thats not so bad’.

And a bonus, two comments on the Bruce Arians question:

alfresco:

Conspiracy theory: 

Is there any proof that BA did, actually call this game?

Mechem:

Let us all say the Bruce Arians prayer:

God, grant Bruce Arians the patience to run the ball regularly and the good sense to run more play-action and to not attempt seven consecutive passing plays from a five-receiver set with a lead.

 

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