The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: Dustin Colquitt will improve the Steelers’ punting game this season.
Explanation: For a long period of time after Daniel Sepulveda’s series of injuries, the Steelers had a carousel of punters from Jeremy Kapinos to Brad Wing to Zoltan Mesko and Mat McBriar and Drew Butler. Even Shaun Suisham punted five times. Then came Jordan Berry, who provided at least personnel stability for five seasons. They released him yesterday to sign Dustin Colquitt, a proven veteran who is nevertheless on the decline in the twilight of his career.
It wasn’t ever that Jordan Berry didn’t have talent as a punter. He had a good leg when necessary and could get hangtime. He was skilled in particular with directional kicking, which is an area of punting on which the Steelers focus, so he had value in that regard. He avoided touchbacks, as well.
His biggest problem was always in terms of being consistent. Consistent with hangtime, consistent with distance. Every now and then he would completely shank one as well, more frequently than you would want to accept.
Colquitt didn’t post the best number of his career a year ago in his late 30s, but he has been a consistent punter throughout his career, and what’s more, he typically does a solid job of preventing his punts from being returned, or at least getting enough hangtime for his coverage to get down the field and prevent long returns.
But the punting game isn’t just about the punter. It’s about the whole process. The Steelers’ gunners, for example, had issues last year, especially with Artie Burns. Personnel outside of punter definitely contributed to Berry’s high number of returns and return yardage the past two seasons, which hasn’t been his style.
At this stage in their respective careers, Berry and Colquitt are putting up awfully similar numbers. Neither of them have booming legs. Both of them get around the same hangtime on average. I’m not expecting to see an improvement because of Colquitt. If there is improvement, I will expect it to be because of more consistent play from his coverage.