There was not much to speak of positively from last night’s preseason finale, in which the Pittsburgh Steelers lost by a score of 23-6 and suffered injuries to three different reserve linemen while ultimately playing rather poorly, but there was a bright spot or two here and there.
One of those was new kicker Josh Scobee, who was just recently acquired earlier this week in exchange for a sixth-round draft pick after the team made a trade with the Jaguars, who also agreed to pay nearly $1 million of his salary.
The Steelers remain on the hook for $2.5 million of what he is owed on the final year of his contract, but he has the potential to make it worth it, especially for a team that has already experienced the loss of a kicker with the recent history of consistency that Shaun Suisham has shown over the span of the past three seasons.
While Scobee’s overall career accuracy may seem to be questionable, that number has been on a fairly consistent upward trajectory, with occasional blips being suffered at the hands of an inordinate number of blocked field goals, as well as a higher than average percentage of long-range field goals of 50 yards or more.
Scobee has a big leg that the Steelers are simply unaccustomed to from the kicking position, even when they had players that offered long-term stability over the course of several seasons. And they likely intend to make use of that big leg this season.
While the team’s anemic offense last night did not give him many opportunities, he impressed all five times he had the opportunity to touch the ball, which consisted of three kickoffs and two field goal attempts.
Both field goals were short-range, of course, the byproduct of a struggling offense that stalled in the red zone twice. Those are certainly field goals that he, and any kicker worth a salary, is expected to make, to be sure.
But not everybody has the kind of leg that can be a consistent performer on kickoffs to deliver touchbacks, as the Steelers can testify, as Suisham has ranked toward the bottom of the league in terms of touchback percentage during his tenure with the team. It’s part of why they rarely give him the opportunity to attempt field goals of 50 yards or more.
Scobee got the opportunity to perform three kickoffs, and all three comfortably went for touchbacks. The second of the three easily cleared beyond the white in the back of the end zone, nearly hitting the back wall without bouncing.
The man clearly showed that he still has a big leg, and he has performed well consistently over the last few years when his kicks are not blocked. The only reason that his position was every in jeopardy was due to his salary. Sure, it’s a bit sad when your new kicker is arguably the star of a game, even in the preseason, because it generally means that things didn’t go right elsewhere, but given what they have invested in Scobee this year, it almost seems appropriate.