Shaun Suisham Turned His Career Around In Pittsburgh

By Matthew Marczi

Jeff Reed was once regarded as nearly automatic for the Pittsburgh Steelers—at least for a couple seasons—until he completely fell apart during the 2010 season and was released during the year following a loss to the New England Patriots, which is typically an uncharacteristic move for the team.

He was replaced with a journeyman kicker by the name of Shaun Suisham, and he happens to still be here.

In fact, Suisham is now the most accurate kicker in team history.

Since joining the team in the middle of the 2010 season, Suisham has attempted 83 field goals during the regular season. He has made 71 of them. That is a field goal percentage of 85.5, which, according to Pro Football Reference, would rank him as the fifth-most accurate kicker in the history of the game, behind Dan Bailey, Mike Vanderjagt, Nate Kaeding, and Robbie Gould, three of whom are active.

Of course, that is only factoring in his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers, and his career certainly did not begin here. His career field goal average is actually 81.87 percent, which places him 24th on the career field goal percentage list, and places him 16th among kickers that are still playing.

Fortunately, however, he has raised his game since joining the Steelers. His career field goal percentage prior to Pittsburgh was just 79.1, and he has since raised that over two and a half points by maintaining an average more than six percentage points higher than he was able to sustain earlier in his career.

Joining the team in week 11 of the 2010 season, Suisham connected on 14 of 15 field goal attempts during the regular season. He had quite an off season in 2011, making just 23 of 31 field goal attempts.

Since then, however, he has rebounded nicely. He made 28 of 31 field goals in 2012, and thus far has been perfect on six attempts in 2013. Thus, over the past season and a quarter, he has been good on 91.9 percent of his attempts.

The problem with Suisham, however, has come from distance. He does not have the strongest leg in the league, and will never have a high percentage from 50+. He has made only two of his five attempts from that range with the Steelers during the regular season.

As indicated by the small number of attempts, however, it is clearly not as valuable as excelling from the 40-49-yard range. He has made 28 of his 34 attempts within that range with the Steelers in the regular season, with five of those misses coming during the spotty 2011 season. Since 2012, he is 14 for 14. In fact, of the three field goals he has missed since then, one was the result of a bad snap and the other two came from over 50 yards. He has been one of the few sources of stability for the team this year.

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