Now that the 2020 regular season has begun, following a second consecutive season in which they failed to even reach the playoffs, it’s time to take stock of where the Pittsburgh Steelers stand. Specifically where Steelers players stand individually based on what we are seeing over the course of the season as it plays out. Who is making plays? Who is missing them? Who is losing snaps? Who is struggling to stay on the field?
A stock evaluation can take a couple of different approaches and I’ll try to make clear my reasonings. In some cases it will be based on more long-term trends. In other instances it will be a direct response to something that just happened. So we can see a player more than once over the course of the season as we move forward.
Player: P Dustin Colquitt
Stock Value: Down
Reasoning: Dustin Colquitt and the punting game have not represented much of an upgrade—or an upgrade at all—from recent seasons with Jordan Berry through the first three games of his tenure.
Dustin Colquitt is a former Pro Bowler. He has accomplished a lot in his career. But he is also at the end of his career, and has been putting up middling numbers. I warned when news came that they were bringing him in for a workout that, if signed, he would not amount to an upgrade over Jordan Berry, whom fans had so come to deride.
Head coach Mike Tomlin was asked yesterday to assess the play of Colquitt and of the punting game as a whole, and he said that it’s “not where we want to be”. While he said that it was not only the punter but the whole group, the punter is a pretty big part of the equation, and the gunner work has actually been solid for the most part.
Tomlin is known for calling poor punts and shanks ‘JV’, as in junior varsity, sub-par quality. Colquitt has not been immune to JV punts even in the three short games that he has been here. His 43.8-yard gross average so far is the worst he has had since his rookie season back in 2005 when he was a third-round pick.
He is averaging just 36.8 net yards per punt so far, which is quite bad. In fact, it’s the second-worst in the league behind only Braden Mann of the New York Jets. More than 60 percent of his punts so far have been returned, eight in total for 71 yards, with an average of 8.9 yards per return, and he already has two touchbacks. He has sent two punts out of bounds, and from memory, I know at least one of them wasn’t good.
It’s unlikely that Colquitt is going to lose the Steelers any games, at least not strictly through his punting, but they still need better from him. Really, to date, it’s hard to justify moving on from Berry based on his replacement’s performance.