The Pittsburgh Steelers find that their 2016 season ended a bit prematurely, and are undergoing the exit meeting process a couple weeks sooner than they would have liked. Never the less, what must be done must be done, and we are now at the time of the year where we close the book on one season and look ahead to the next.
While we might not know all the details about what goes on between Head Coach Mike Tomlin and his players during these exit meetings, we do know how we would conduct those meetings if they were let up to us. So here are the Depot’s exit meetings for the Steelers’ roster following the 2016 season.
Player: Jordan Berry
Experience: 2 Years
If I had to choose my favorite thing about Steelers punter Jordan Berry, it is that, at the very least, he has finally appeared to have ended the yearly carousel that the team has had to deal with for seemingly the past decade.
The Steelers have had a new punt, or a different punter, nearly every year for most of the past 10 years, and that as sometimes included different punters in the same season. But Berry has now been here for two years, and there is no obvious indication that he is on his way out.
After winning a training camp battle with incumbent Brad Wing, which saw the latter traded for a seventh-round draft pick, the fellow Australian has shown key improvement from his first season to his second.
As a first-year player in 2015, Berry posted a gross average of just 42.6 yards, a number that improved by exactly three yards to 45.6 in 2016. And that was in spite of the fact that he had one punt blocked. His net average also improved by just over a yard, from 39.1 yards to 40.2. On nine extra punts, he only recorded one additional touchback.
It is fair to point out that Berry was not as successful in pinning opponents inside the 20 this year. He only did so on 25 of 68 punts, versus 28 of 59 the year before. He also allowed 28 punts to be returned for 269 yards, versus 19 for 165 the year before.
But he improved in his directional kicking, which partially explains the 11 punts that went out of bounds. The fact that the special teams dealt with some key injuries to important players—particularly to both of their best gunners—also helps explain why the Steelers as a whole allowed a higher volume of punts to be returned.
Still, there is obviously still room for improvement for the young punter, even if he is doing a mostly satisfactory job up to this point. I would not expect that his job is in much jeopardy of being lost at this point.