Fans calling for Steelers to cut Gunner Olszewski, promote Steven Sims
Pittsburgh Steelers fans are already fed up with the poor performance from return man, Gunner Olszewski, and they are calling for a change.
Kenny Pickett has been the biggest topic of discussion among Pittsburgh Steelers fans since entering the Week 4 game against the Jets in the second half… and rightfully so. With Pickett now in the mix, fans want to see how the offense looks moving forward and what the ceiling for this team could look like with a new quarterback at the helm.
Because of this news, something that has been pushed to the backburner is the play of return specialist, Gunner Olszewski. Against the Patriots in Week 2, Olszewski made headlines for the wrong reason when he fumbled in enemy territory that ultimately led to points for New England — a game where the Steelers lost by just a field goal (17-14).
Two weeks later, fans were pulling their hair out when Olszewski fumbled yet again — this time in the second half against the New York Jets. Fortunately, Steelers CB James Pierre was there to pounce on this ball, but this could have been another costly play caused by the return man.
Recently, I drew some attention to Olszewski’s performance on social media, and it seems like most fans are now calling for his release:
Olszewski is averaging just 7.2 yards per punt return this season, via Pro Football Reference. This is certainly a far cry from the 17.3 yards per punt return he averaged as an All-Pro specialist back in 2020 with the Patriots. So far, the trade-off hardly seems worth the risk (2 fumbles in 4 games), and fans are calling for Steven Sims to see the field.
I’m not convinced that Sims is going to be the answer for the Steelers, but it’s possible that Olszewski’s time in Pittsburgh could be limited if he doesn’t make improvements on special teams quickly.
Steelers have options outside of Olszewski
Because of his impressive history as a special teams ace for New England, I’m sure that Mike Tomlin and the coaching staff are trying to give him the benefit of the doubt. After all, four games is still a relatively small sample size compared to his career. However, that improvement is going to have to come quickly, and Olszewski could be on thin ice.
With a few more negative plays like the ones we’ve witnessed so far, the Steelers could be looking for a new return specialist, and they aren’t short on options. Steven Sims is currently on Pittsburgh’s roster, but he has been a healthy scratch every week so far. While he doesn’t offer much as a kick returner or special teams coverage man, Sims has had some impressive punt returns in the past, and he showcased his ability during the preseason.
Additionally, the Steelers selected Calvin Austin III in the fourth round this year, and the rookie could be looking to return from IR very soon. When he does, somebody is going to have to get the axe. Even if this ends up being Sims who is released, Pittsburgh will want to activate Austin, so someone else will be forced to be a healthy scratch on game day.
Despite the two fumbles and the lackluster overall performance, I do think that the Pittsburgh Steelers roll with Gunner Olszewski for a while longer. However, he needs to make serious strides if he wants to hang onto his job throughout the course of the year.