The Pittsburgh Steelers are taking some heat this week for the manner in which they are handling their situation at kicker, with fourth-year veteran Chris Boswell having struggled significantly to perform in 2018 after receiving a near top-dollar contract for his position coming off a season in which he made the Pro Bowl.
The team waited until Wednesday, rather than Tuesday, to work out additional kickers, then when they found one in Kai Forbath whom they liked, they put him on standby to wait and see how Boswell would perform in practice yesterday. They even brought in their previous long-term kicker, Shaun Suisham, to offer his insights.
Suisham joined the team in 2010 mid-season after the Steelers released Jeff Reed for facing struggles similar to that which Boswell is having. He remained with the team and became their all-time leader in field goal percentage before suffering a torn ACL in the preseason opener in 2015 that ended his career.
He was on the injured reserve list when the Steelers ended up signing Boswell four games into the 2015 season after they cut Josh Scobee for missing four of his eight field goal attempts up to that point in the season, so the two have had a relationship before.
“It’s just good to have another kicker out there, throwing ideas off each other”, Boswell told reporters about Suisham’s presence and influence after practice yesterday. “He was in the league for 11 years, so it’s always good to have a guy like that around watching. It’s good to have a guy of his caliber”.
With the Steelers, Suisham completed 124 of 141 field goal attempts from 2010 through 2014 for a field goal percentage of 87.9. disregarding his career leading up to joining Pittsburgh, that percentage would rank as the second-best in the history of the NFL, behind only the Baltimore Ravens’ Justin Tucker, who has made over 90 percent of his field goal attempts since coming into the league in 2012.
Boswell, prior to this season, was on-pace to challenge Tucker for the honor of being the most accurate kicker in NFL history. He had made 87 of 97 field goals during his first three seasons, and would have reached a 90-percent accuracy rating if he had made his first three field goals this year.
Having gone just 10 for 16 so far, however, his career average has now dipped to 85.6. It’s worth noting that that is the 12th-highest percentage in NFL history among eligible kickers with at least 100 field goal attempts, though.
Boswell said of yesterday’s on-field sessions and work with Suisham that “we took a step in the right direction, we just have to put it on the field”.
For the moment, it appears as though the Steelers are giving the fourth-year kicker a second chance, but he knows that he is on thin ice at this point. He’s lucky that he bought so much goodwill and trust through his first three seasons, because almost any other kicker would have been gone weeks ago.