Tag Archives: Shaun Suisham

More on the Psyche of Kickers


Gene Puskar/AP Photo

I have written a number of articles through the years on the psychological aspects of performance in high-pressure situations, especially as it relates to kickers. As pointed out by Tim Booth, this week’s Sunday night game provides a tailor-made case study of an aspect of it I haven’t covered quite as much—how the reaction of a kicker’s coach after the fact affects them in the coming attempts.

In case you’ve been in an NFL-free cave since the end of the Steelers-Patriots game, last Sunday night’s game ended in a tie after the kickers for both Seattle and Arizona missed chip-shot field goals for the win. (Both attempts were under 30 yards.)

Since the public reaction of each kicker’s coach was so different, it is, as Booth noted, the perfect set-up for a psychology experiment. Here, in tweet form, is the essence of what each coach said:


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A Dream Team or a Team-First Team?

2015 Postseason Pittsburgh at DenverOnce again Bob Labriola’s feature on Steelers.com Asked and Answered has provided me with material for a post, and thank heavens for that. Here’s the question:

If you could take any defensive player and any offensive player from any team(s) in the rest of the league for the Steelers right now, who would they be?

The temptation might be to say to add an offensive superstar to the mix, such as Todd Gurley to a backfield already containing Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams, or a receiver such as Julio Jones or A.J. Green or Brandon Marshall to pair with Antonio Brown. But all-star teams don’t win championships in football. Remember when the Eagles believed they had assembled the “dream team” in 2011 only to finish 8-8? What about the 2000 Redskins, when Daniel Snyder tried to assemble a fantasy football team, and it also finished 8-8?

So, rather than mess with the chemistry and the selflessness the Steelers have created in this locker room, for offense, all I want is for everybody to stay healthy all season. Everybody. All of the starters and all of the backups, and I’ll take my chances with that group. On defense, give me the 2008 version of James Harrison – 16 sacks and 34 pressures – to go along with the rest of the existing personnel, and I would be willing to play anybody anywhere. Even the mighty Arizona Cardinals.

I read this column about five minutes after putting Ivan Cole’s post on Shaun Suisham in the queue. Ivan’s point, if I may be allowed to put words in his mouth, were that while everyone is going to have to deal with injuries, the timing of the injuries and the personnel to whom they happened was particularly problematic last season.

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The Loss of Suisham: A Sign That Steelers’ Luck is Changing for the Better?


Peter Diana, Post-Gazette

by Ivan Cole

What an odd thing to suggest, right? Hang with me for a bit as I attempt to make a case for the past year’s journey of Shaun Suisham standing as a symbol of an important change of fortune for the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2016.

One of the weaknesses, an occupational handicap if you will, of being fans and observers of the game is our incessant focus upon the urgency of the moment. Every roster move, no matter how mundane, every injury, no matter how minor, can become infused with deep and lasting meaning. Sometimes such is true, often it is not.

I have sat at training camp and listened to fans become frustrated because Ben Roethlisberger threw a poor pass. In training camp. In August. An ominous sign pointing to our diminished prospects of getting to the Super Bowl, right?

This doesn’t mean that small occurrences can’t have outsized meanings. The trick is to discern what may really be meaningful, and what can be confidently dismissed as being, well, ridiculous. Read more

Shaun Suisham: Best in Class

steelersThis is going to be a tough article to write. One of my favorite Steelers announced today that he is leaving the NFL. I’ll let him start. Here’s the statement he released:

“Thank you Pittsburgh and all of Steelers Nation!

“Unfortunately, the injury I sustained in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game last preseason was catastrophic and has proven to be critical to continuing my career. My journey in the NFL has come to a crossroads.

“I was raised in Wallaceburg, Ontario, as a hockey player and have been on an improbable 16-year journey as a kicker, competing at the highest level. The absolute nature of my position has given me the opportunity to test my resolve, and I have grown both professionally and as a man.

“Undoubtedly, I will miss the challenge of game day and the preparation that is required. Change is hard, but I’m comfortable with where I am in life as a husband and father.

“I will always be grateful to every team and coach that has given me an opportunity in the NFL. I am especially grateful to everyone —teammates, coaches and fans — in our adopted hometown of Pittsburgh, Pa.

“Best always, Shaun Suisham and family.”

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Breaking News: Steelers Cut Kicker Chris Boswell, Retain Suisham

via WTAE.com

As most of you who frequent this site know, I’m a big Shaun Suisham fan, and consequently was very conflicted about the upcoming kicker situation.

There is, after all, no getting around the fact that Chris Boswell, who appears to have ice water in his veins, kicked very well. Nor can one deny that he’s younger and cheaper than Suisham. Furthermore, he, like Suisham, appears to be a very solid human being, something which matters a lot to me.

Consequently I was viewing the coming camp battle between the two with distinctly mixed emotions. Neither man has done anything so far to deserve to lose the job, but somebody has to. The assumption was, though, that this decision would be made in August.

Recent events indicate that there is more to the situation than meets the eye. Two days ago Mike Tomlin kicked the tires, if you will, on yet another kicker, Roberto Aguayo. Tomlin was at the Florida State Pro Day on Tuesday, and attempted to ice Aguayo, as reported by ESPN: Read more

The New, Improved Extra Point Attempt—Did It Mess With Kicker’s Heads?

via Steelers.com

If you were paying attention at all in 2015 you know what I’m talking about. As NFL writer Kevin Patra reported last May:

The NFL has been tinkering with the PAT in hopes of making it a more difficult and therefore entertaining play for spectators. The latest change might be just the first step of further adjustments in years to come.

It appears to have worked extremely well.

I confess I was pretty skeptical when they announced the change. After all, this took it from a 19-yard kick to a 32-yard kick, a distance that equates to a high degree of accuracy among NFL kickers. No biggie, right?

Well, it appears it is a biggie, because a large number of extra points were missed in the 2015 season, something that hadn’t been seen for years. But furthermore, kicker accuracy overall was down, and at least a few kickers were attributing this to the mental stress of the longer PAT.

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Minding the Kicker—Is the Steeler Nation Angst Over Josh Scobee Justified?

Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, Peter Diana photo

Hombre de Acero’s 5 Smoldering Questions this week not surprisingly contained the following:

2. All was not positive in the Steelers victory, as Josh Scobee missed an extra point attempt, making that three misses in two weeks. As the Steelers luck with place kickers this year does not seem to be good, are you worried yet?

It’s hard to imagine there is anyone in Steeler Nation, from Head Coach Mike Tomlin down to all but the least observant fans, who aren’t at least discomfited by Scobee’s horrific 50.0% made field goal percentage so far (not to mention a missed extra point attempt.)

Therefore it may surprise you, as it did me, to discover he isn’t the lowest ranked kicker in the NFL, or even close to it, at least according to Pro Football Focus. He is ranked No. 28 out of 39 ranked kickers. Nor is he the only kicker to have missed half his attempts so far. Graham Gano, who kicks for the Panthers, has also missed half of his kicks this season. He is 3 for 6, so this is even a larger sample size than Scobee’s 2 of 4. Gano is ranked No. 5. Read more

Humility and How I Got It: Brown, Bryant, and the Evolution of “Humble”

via HeathMiller.com

Over 30 years ago I worked for a curmudgeonly Episcopal priest. Father Campbell was of Scots heritage, although not actually from the auld soil, and I grew very fond of him despite the crusty exterior.

Before I knew him particularly well he informed me he was writing a book. I took the bait and asked what sort of book. He said it was a combination autobiography and self-help book, to be titled “Humility and How I Got It.”

As I listen to or read interviews with sports figures I have noticed a similar use of the word “humble,” as in “I’m just staying humble and doing X.”

“X” may be replaced with things like studying the playbook, working out, or any of the sort of activities one would assume were part of an athlete’s job. After hearing this enough times I realized it wasn’t an isolated instance of someone who just didn’t know what humble means, and began musing over what they were actually trying to say.

I checked whether the meaning of the word had changed while I wasn’t noticing. This is what dictionary.com gave as possible meanings:

1. not proud or arrogant; modest: to be humble although successful. 

2. having a feeling of insignificance, inferiority, subservience, etc.: In the presence of so many world-famous writers I felt very humble. 

3. low in rank, importance, status, quality, etc.; lowly: of humble origin; a humble home. 

4. courteously respectful: In my humble opinion you are wrong.

When a guy says in an interview that he is “just staying humble,” the closest possibility is No. 1—he considers that he is being modest.

But almost by definition humility is not something you can attribute to yourself without irony. Clearly something else is going on here. Read more

How to Make Preseason Football Palatable Instead of Just Passable

AP Photo/Stephen B. Morton

by Hombre de Acero

Note: Many of you know Hombre’s website, Steel Curtain Rising, which keeps him pretty busy. We’re thrilled that he is making his Going Deep debut. Enjoy!

The headline speaks for itself. If we accept ESPN.com’s declaration that “The Steelers need this preseason to die after suspensions, injuries, lifeless defense” then let’s accept that this author is making his debut article here on Going Deep by walking on thin ice. Fair enough. But what’s the point of walking on thin ice if the water below you isn’t deep?

Summer after summer, the groaning about preseason football gets louder and louder. And the comparisons get more clever. “Like watching paint dry…” “About as entertaining as a root canal…” “As fascinating as cutting finger nails….” This is all unfortunate. Because preseason football doesn’t need to be received this way.

Preseason has inherent value both from a football, business and entertainment perspective.

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Hunting for a Kicker: Steelers Trade for Josh Scobee

via Florida Times-Union, Photo: Scott Halleran

Steeler Fever asked me last week if I could write something about placekicker Garrett Hartley. What with one thing and another (mainly the Michael Vick fallout) I didn’t get to it, but planned to write it this week. I’ve learned my lesson—if you’re going to write about the kicker this season you’d better get the article up right away.

The Steelers seem to replace kickers at an equivalent rate to the one they traditionally replace head coaches. (I think a Head Coach year is equivalent to about two kicker years.) They installed Jeff Reed as the kicker in 2002, and replaced him with Shaun Suisham in 2010. Greg Warren has been the long snapper since 2005, and he has only worked with those two kickers plus the occasional camp body, one of which was Shaun Suisham in 2005.

So it must feel fairly odd to Warren to be on his third kicker this summer. It feels kind of odd to us, as well. The kicker is someone you don’t think about much unless he has just messed up. And messing up is something Shaun Suisham didn’t do a lot of.

So here we are, just over a week before the start to the season, and the Steelers front office had to run out and hunt for another kicker. And if you wonder why I’m using the word “hunt” so much, it seems there is a theme running through the kickers they’ve signed. Read more

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