During the 2014 season, Pittsburgh Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham missed on just three of 32 field goal attempts. The year before, he recorded the same number of attempts with just two misses.
On opening night, the Steelers’ latest kicker, Josh Scobee, missed his first two attempts of the season.
The reason that Scobee is on the roster, of course, is because Suisham suffered an ACL tear in his left knee during the preseason. His immediate replacement, Garrett Hartley, suffered a hamstring injury serious enough to prompt at least a temporary stay on injured reserve as well.
Following the parade of misfortunate that had befallen the placekicker position, the Steelers elected to get aggressive, dealing away a sixth-round draft pick, and eating $2.5 million worth of salary, to acquire Scobee for the 2015 season, believing that he would give them the best chance to have success.
With that in mind, it may be worth pointing out that Scobee’s two missed field goals, all other things being equal, could have set the Steelers up in a position to be attempting a potential game-tying two-point conversion with two seconds remaining at the end of the game.
Of course, all things would not have been equal under different circumstances. There is no telling how the game may have transpired differently, given the number of variables. But at the very least, the Patriots could have elected to go for a two-point conversion of their own to give themselves an insurmountable nine-point lead.
Still, Scobee’s career with the Steelers could not have gotten off to a worse start—not that that should be taken as a harbinger of things to come. The former Pro Bowler has carved out a long career, and a high salary, because he has proven that he has the ability to perform.
And there is certainly credit to be given out for coming back and responding by making his next two field goals, an extra point conversion, booming a couple of touchbacks through the back of the end zone, and giving the coverage unit a chance to recover an admittedly meaningless onside kick attempt as time expired.
But a rough start it was, and it is likely fair to say that that first impression will help color the perception that will surround him through the duration of the season, which figures to be the only season that he serves with the Steelers with Suisham due to return from his injury in 2016.
Pittsburgh acquired Scobee seeking a solution, something that was certain and reliable, rather than taking a gamble with whomever happened to be available on the street. That was the reason that they chose to make a significant investment, financially and with draft resources, to enter him into the equation.
It will take at least a few error-free games from Scobee before that level of comfort can even enter into the equation, no doubt. And given the way that the Steelers executed in the red zone in the season opener, he should be granted plenty of opportunities to prove himself.