The Pittsburgh Steelers are out of Latrobe and back at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, also referred to as the South Side Facility. We are already into the regular season, where everything is magnified and, you know, actually counts. The team is working through the highs and lows and dramas that go through a typical Steelers season.
How are the rookies performing? What about the players that the team signed in free agency? Who is missing time with injuries, and when are they going to be back? What are the coaches saying about what they are going to do this season that might be different from how it was a year ago?
These are the sorts of questions among many others that we have been exploring on a daily basis and will continue to do so. Football has become a year-round pastime and there is always a question to be asked, though there is rarely a concrete answer, as I’ve learned in my years of doing this.
Question: Will Chris Boswell be the Steelers’ kicker during the 2019 regular season?
A funny thing happened on the way to the 2018 season. Pro Bowl kicker Chris Boswell suddenly got the yips. The four-year veteran entered the year with the second-best field goal percentage in NFL history behind only Justin Tucker, but he proceeded to miss about a dozen attempts between field goals and extra point attempts after that.
It was enough that the Steelers strongly considered releasing him. They held tryouts, but allowed him to participate in that tryout to compete to retain his own job, and at the time the team felt that he did enough to justify sticking with him for the remainder of the season.
That season is over, however, and Art Rooney II was quite vocal in his displeasure with the performance of the kicking game during the 2018 season, even citing it as one of the principle reasons that the team failed to reach its goal.
And technically he’s not wrong. If he made the game-winning field goal in the opener, they would have had a 10-6 record and won a divisional tiebreaker over the Baltimore Ravens to claim the AFC North crown once again. But I digress.
Rooney went so far as to say that he would expect there would be a kicking competition this summer, and really, how could you not? You’re already dealing with a kicker you made try out for his own job in the middle of the season. Now that we’re in the offseason, they will obviously try to explore their options.
It’s still possible, of course, that they’ll be convinced Boswell is still the player they thought he was through his first three seasons. Can he get over the yips and return to being one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL? He’s already being paid like it.