Are Poor Special Teams Play & Constant Penalties the “New Normal” For the Steelers?


Knile Davis scored on a kickoff return last night. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Despite their 0-3 start to the preseason, some positive things have happened for the Steelers.  The play of rookies like Jarvis Jones, Markus Wheaton, and Shamarko Thomas has been solid, their veterans on defense (Larry Foote, Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel, Ike Taylor, etc.) have stayed relatively healthy, and Ben Roethlisberger looked to be in midseason form last night against Kansas City.

Yet for all of the positives, one cannot simply ignore the the types of glaring negatives the Steelers have put on display during preseason play.  In fact, I would be inclined to say that poor play on special teams coupled with numerous undisciplined penalties have become the new normal in Pittsburgh after what has happened over the last few seasons and now during preseason play.

Take for instance what has happened during the last three games alone:

  • New York Giants (Preseason Week 1): 7 penalties for 50 yards, blocked punt
  • Washington Redskins (Preseason Week 2): 8 penalties for 95 yards, allowed 53 punt return yards to Skye Dawson
  • Kansas City Chiefs Game (Preseason Week 3): 9 penalties 98 yards, blocked field goal, shanked punt which led to tying touchdown drive late in 2nd quarter, allowed 109 yard kickoff return for touchdown

Not only have the Steelers upped their penalties and penalty yardage each week, they have consistently crapped the bed on special teams.  I know I certainly hate to sound like a “Negative Nancy,” but it made absolutely zero sense as to why the team let Al Everest go as their special teams coach before last year began in favor of Amos Jones.

Due to how poorly Jones’ units performed, he was fired after only one season.  Unfortunately for the Steelers, new special teams coach Danny Smith who has done nothing to turn around Pittsburgh’s pathetic special teams since he assumed the job earlier this spring.

I certainly do not want to assume a “sky is falling” mentality right now, but I do not care how much talent there is on the field for Pittsburgh this fall.  If their bone-headed penalties halt drives and take points off of the board and their special teams play allows the other team to rack points up for themselves, then this team will be in trouble if this type of play bleeds into the regular season.

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