View Full Version : Steelers Worst in NFL ...

05-30-2010, 11:04 PM
Not my title, it's from an interesting read at post-game heroes. (May 22, have to scroll way down, their new formatting sux http://www.postgameheroes.com/ )

Man, you read that, you want to let Skippy go TODAY!!

For those who don't want to read through it all, basically it is saying that Skippy's poor kickoffs lost us a playoff spot, that his kickoff stats are THE WORST in the NFL.

He has a lot of good stats to back himself up ... BUT ... I think the argument is incomplete without paying more than lip service about how clutch Skippy is for FGs. I think the right way to analyze this is to say:

1) OK, Skippy's s*itty kick offs cost us X yards, which might translate into Y points per game WORSE THAN THE AVERAGE KICKER.
2) Here's what the author is missing: We WON GAMES THE AVERAGE FG KICKER WOULDN"T HAVE WON FOR US, based on Skippy's FGs.

So - maybe on average Skippy is overall an average kicker - great for FGs, but kickoffs costing us yards, and possibly points/games, compared to some hypothetical average kicker.

Makes me feel a little better about the day we let him go and get someone else.

Maybe that'll help us to keep Sep, in terms of # roster spots spent on idiot kicke... I mean players who only use their feet to make plays?


May 22nd, 2010 | Category: NFL, Sports, Steelers, podcast | Comments (0)
Steelers: the worst in the NFL
By Dagger, on May 22nd, 2010


Did the headline scare you? The Steelers are the worst in the NFL at what? Short yardage running? 3rd down pass defense? No. The Steelers (Jeff Reed specifically) are the worst kickoff team in the NFL.

We tweeted this a few days ago. In our right sidebar you can see some of the tweets we toss out there from time to time, it’s a way to deliver shorter and quicker messages about random stuff without having to sit down and actually write/post something. We thought we’d expand on the topic since we’ve been asking for a kickoff specialist for the last 2 seasons.

A few days ago we mentioned that word out of Steeler OTAs was that the organization had finally come to the realization that a big part of their special teams failures begins with the guy kicking the ball off the tee.

Some people don’t think the Steelers should waste a roster spot or a gameday jersey on a kickoff specialist but what if you believed that kickoff depth, kick coverage, average starting field position, etc…correlated to winning football games? Many people believe that winning these little nuances within the game add up to wins. Any Steeler fan who doesn’t think the Steelers need to upgrade their kick coverage unit didn’t watch many games last year. One NFL team executive–speaking on condition of anonymity– explained the value of a kickoff specialist in an ESPN article last month:

He uses math dividing the collective number of yards leaguewide by total offensive points scored. That way, he can determine how many yards equals each point.

In 2009, for example, there were 178,656 total offensive yards and 10,267 offensive points, according to the Elias Sports Bureau. Divide the former by the latter, and you have 17.4 yards per point. If a team kicks off, say, five times a game, yards lost due to a weak leg add up, thus translating into points on the wrong side of the scoreboard.

Check out what we wrote this past November:

Jeff Reed can’t kick very far
By Dagger, on November 19th, 2009

We’ve spent way too much time talking about Special Teams this year, but here we go again. We wrote a few articles over the past 2 seasons about Jeff Reed’s kickoff struggles and some discussion over at Steelerfury.com last Sunday brought this to the front of my mind.

Many fans are predicting that this is Jeff Reed’s last season in Pittsburgh. I don’t like all his antics off the field but he has been clutch time and time again for the Steelers. At times he has been so MONEY that you consider a huge kick in the playoffs almost a gimmie.

If you want him gone though, here is some more fuel to the fire:

1. He ranks last in the NFL in Distance per Kickoff at 60.1 yards. Over half the league’s kickers sit at 67.0 yards or more.

2. Jeff Reed has only 1 Touchback on the season. Last in the NFL. 18 kickers have six or more Touchbacks.

3. Atlanta’s kicker has 19 touchbacks. Patriots’ kicker has 18. Carolina’s kicker has 17. I repeat….Jeff Reed has 1 touchback.

This next stat is a kicker/coverage unit combination.

4. Steeler opponents average starting field position is the 33.4 yard line (4th worst in the NFL). It’s crazy to think that by not kicking the ball directly out of bounds on kickoffs, the Steelers are only saving themselves 6 yards per kickoff. Ouch. The “longer” kickoff guys and coverage units force their opponents to start their drives at the 23.5 yard line. So, a good kickoff guy can force the other team’s offense to go an additional 10 yards per drive in order to get into FG or TD range. That’s a big deal….especially when you figure that your team Covers and Returns a handful of kicks in each game.

For the record, Jeff Reed finished:

*last in the NFL in Touchbacks. (94% of Reed’s kicks were returned. The top guys in the league were only having around 64% of their kickoffs returned. Reed had 3 touchbacks, 8 guys in the NFL had 20+ touchbacks)

*last in the NFL in Average Kickoff distance. (Reed was kicking the ball off 60.6 yards per attempt while Prater in Denver, for example, was booting the ball 71 yards per kickoff)

*last in the NFL in Average Kickoff Hangtime.

*second to last in the NFL in opponents average starting field position.

I’m not sure you can argue that Touchbacks and Opponents Average starting field position don’t matter very much, but if you are sill questioning whether these things are important, we crunched a few numbers for you to chew on:

We took the top 8 teams and bottom 8 teams in each category and looked at their records.

Top 8 teams in terms of most Touchbacks from their kickers: 78-50

Bottom 8 teams (like Pittsburgh) with very few Touchbacks from their kicker: 52-76

—this next stat can be seen as a combination of kickoff distance, hangtime, and coverage unit (note that this field position stat is looking at kickoffs only, it doesn’t factor in short fields from turnovers, etc…) —

Top 8 teams in terms of Average Starting Field Position for their opponents: 73-55

Bottom 8 teams (like Pittsburgh) that let their opponents get great field position off kickoffs: 50-78

Look at what comes up when you do a Google Images Search for “Josh Cribbs”:

Need I say more? The Steelers coaching staff has recognized an area of the game in which they are the WORST IN THE NFL in every way imaginable. They would be nuts not to try and remedy the situation.

There you have it. I’m not really sure there is an argument or a debate left to be had. People compare the NFL to a ground war. Every inch matters. Every yard is huge. Fight and scrap for every blade of grass. Football is a game of inches….games are won and lost by an extremely thin margin. How can anyone out there think kickoffs aren’t that big of a deal?

Would the Steelers season have unfolded differently if Jeff Reed had kicked 10, 15, or 20 more of his kickoffs into the endzone? The Steelers gave up 4 kickoff return TDs last year, there is no doubt in my mind that the Steelers make the playoffs if a few of those balls land in the endzone instead of into the arms of returners waiting at the 10 yard line.

Jeff Reed’s kickoffs are landing (on average) as much as 10 yards shorter than some of the other kickers in the league. Think those extra 10 yards are meaningless? Think that extra first down you make the other team convert is no big deal? On every single kickoff the opponent is 10 yards closer to a game-winning field goal. 10 yards closer to the endzone. Even if you’re playing a team with an anemic offense, giving them those extra 10 yards allows them to get away from their own endzone and punt the ball into your territory, flipping the field position.

Reed kicked the ball off 80 times last year. If he’s almost 10 yards under the NFL average you’re costing your team 800 yards per season (and 45-50 yards per game) by not having a specialist; anybody want to try and argue that pushing your opponent’s starting field position backwards 50 yards PER GAME is meaningless?

The bottom line is, the 10 yards per kickoff the Steelers are missing out on by sending Reed out to kick the ball off is a lot more important and a lot more costly than some Steeler fans realize. Don’t complain when a kickoff specialist makes the team instead of some bum Defensive Back or a 4th string Guard.

05-30-2010, 11:58 PM
Curing the Pittsburgh Steelers' Special Teams Woes

by David Law Correspondent


Eliot J. Schechter/Getty Images

The Pittsburgh Steelers were an underachieving team in 2009. Most of the failures from that season were related to three diverse issues: injuries to key defensive players, a weak and poorly prepared offensive line, and letdowns by the special teams.

This article will explore the latter issue, particularly looking towards what changes we might see from the Steelers’ kickoff team in 2009.

Last year the Steelers were the worst kickoff unit in the NFL, by far. I would venture to guess that they were the worst unit the league has seen in quite a few years. Decades, perhaps.

How ugly did things get for the kickoff team in 2009? Plenty ugly. The Steelers ranked 32nd in the NFL in average kickoff distance at 59.8 yards and 32nd in touchbacks at 3.7 percent.

Their four TD returns were also a league worst. Similarly, the Steelers ranked 26th in average return surrendered at 24.3 yards against. That is a rather spectacularly bad result, considering that the teams that traditionally give up the longest average returns are those with the longest kickoffs.

The Steelers’ problems with kickoffs begin with Jeff Reed. Reed is a valuable commodity: Heinz Field is reputed to be one of the most difficult fields for placekickers, with unpredictable, swirling winds and often lousy footing. Considering those conditions, Reed has been a remarkably effective placekicker in Pittsburgh.

However, Reed has the NFL’s weakest leg when it comes to kickoffs. Reed recorded only three touchbacks in 81 kickoffs, which simply isn’t good enough. By way of comparison, David Buehler of the Dallas Cowboys achieved 29 touchbacks in 79 kickoffs.

Last season Dallas employed Buehler as a kickoff specialist, with Nick Folk handling placekicking duties.

The Pittsburgh Steelers should consider using a kickoff specialist in place of Reed handling those duties.

In fact, while I think that Stefan Logan did an admirable job as a return specialist last year, I believe that there would be a net gain in terms of field position for the Steelers if they replaced Logan with a kickoff specialist similar to Buehler.

Emmanuel Sanders, Mike Wallace, and Keenan Lewis come to mind as possible replacements for Logan. All are expected to earn a roster spot on their own merits and probably can provide return numbers similar to Logan’s.

Even if they are not quite his equal, I believe that their return skills are strong enough for the Steelers to consider using Logan’s roster spot on a kickoff specialist.

The problems with kickoffs started with the short kicks provided by Reed, but things all too frequently went downhill from there.

The team’s kickoff coverage was abysmal. Giving up four return TDs simply emphasizes how atrocious their coverage units were in 2009. Fans became so skittish watching the Steelers try to cover kickoffs that they can easily recall numerous other returns that seemed inches from going all the way as well.

Kickoff return touchdowns are momentum changers. They sap the energy from the team that surrenders the big play and energize the opponent.

For some reason last season the kick coverage team seemed out of sync. Too frequently players wandered out of their lanes or failed to hold containment and missed tackles when they were in the right position.

Jeff Reed came under considerable heat for his pathetic attempts at tackling kick returners, but the truth is that Reed should never be put in such a position.

Would I like to see Reed be able to tackle enthusiastically and effectively the way Steeler punter Daniel Sepulveda does? Hell yes! But realistically, that’s not Reed’s job. There are 10 other Steelers out there who are messing up as a unit if Reed even figures into the play at all.

Those kick return woes cost special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky his job at the end of the season. New coordinator Al Everest has been given a mandate to clean up the coverage units first and foremost.

To aid Everest in this task, the Steelers drafted a number of players who might be expected to see special team duties. Young linebacker prospects Jason Worilds and Thaddeus Gibson will be expected to bring energy and tackling ability to the coverage units while they learn the Steeler linebacking trade.

With some new players, a new coordinator, and a renewed commitment to effective coverage units, we can expect considerable improvement on the kickoff team. It’s not like things could get much worse.

Still, I would prefer to see a kickoff specialist employed to hammer the ball deep in the end zone as often as possible. I would much rather see Joshua Cribbs kneeling down to concede a touchback eight yards deep in the end zone than be fielding a Jeff Reed kickoff on his own 10-yard line!

A kickoff specialist combined with better coverage work could give the Steelers an average improvement in the area of 10 to 15 yards on every kickoff. Considering that they kick off five times per game on average, that 50 to 75 yards of improvement will put the Steelers defense in consistently better field position.

Isn’t that part of the Steelers’ mantra for 2010? You know: Play a conservative running and field-position game and rely on a healthy defense to put the ball back in the hands of the offense.

If winning the battle of field position is important to the Steelers, then beefing up the kick coverage units is a step in the right direction. Adding a kickoff specialist might be yet another step.

The Steelers are primed to rebound after losing a number of close games last year. For the first time in a number of years they will be underestimated by some opponents. Curing their coverage woes is a necessary step towards returning to the playoffs and chasing down a seventh Lombardi Trophy for the NFL's most storied franchise.

http://bleacherreport.com/articles/3979 ... teams-woes

05-31-2010, 08:16 AM

05-31-2010, 08:53 AM
That is why Reed should take the franchaise tag and buy some zero coupon bonds. He is very clutch with FG accuracy, but his leg strength can be debated.

Steel Life
05-31-2010, 10:39 AM
It could be argued that his poor tackling cost us the playoffs as much as his KO's did.

05-31-2010, 06:01 PM
There's no reason the placekicker needs to be the kickoff specialist. We could always keep Reed and let Sep do the kickoffs.

05-31-2010, 06:08 PM
Jeff focus this is the endzone...


Knock it over bitch I dare you.

05-31-2010, 06:12 PM
Jeff focus this is the endzone...


Knock it over bitch I dare you.

that's pretty funny... :lol: :lol: