The Pittsburgh Steelers fired their second coach in as many days, this time relieving special teams coordinator Bob Ligashesky of his job. I have mixed emotions on his departure. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not the least bit surprised. When you surrender the most return TDs of any team in forty years while ranking 30th and 24th in kick and punt coverage, something is definitely rotten in McKeesport. And since you can’t fire the eleven men running down the field (although Mike Tomlin certainly tried), it’s easier to can the coach.
However, in some ways I feel Ligashesky is being made a scapegoat. He can only use the players he’s given. When you hand a cook a bushel of rotten tomatoes, it’s hard to blame him when his sauce tastes like crap. Last season, the Steelers were one of the best special teams coverage units in the NFL. This season, he’s been saddled with a bunch of clueless youngsters (Joe Burnett, Ryan Mundy) and lazy veterans (Keiwan Ratliff, Tyrone Carter). They even had little 5’6 175 pound Stefan Logan out covering kicks. They’d be better off running Daniel Sepulveda out there.
The biggest problem with the coverage is the lack of a gunner. Every good special teams unit has a gunner or player whose specialty is flying down the field like a human missile and disrupting whatever the other team is trying to set up. Whenever the Steelers have found a special teams ace, be it Chidi Iwouma, Anthony Madison, or the great Sean Morey, coach Tomlin and Kevin Colbert have let them go. If anybody deserves blame for this year’s fiasco, it’s the two of them.
Also in special teams news, I found this list of players the Steelers signed to their offseason roster. The interesting name is Piotr Czech, the kicker whom the Steelers brought to camp this past preseason. After being cut, Czech hooked on with the UFL and now seems to be back in the fold. Could this be a sign that Skippy Reed‘s days in the Black and Gold are rapidly coming to an end?