Sifting through the wreckage of L’Affaire d’ Skippy…
The Pittsburgh Steelers bid farewell to their long-time kicker with a short bitterly worded press release which was as much a burial as a good-bye. The final paragraph read, “Jeff Reed was in his ninth year with the team in 2010, but was just 15 of 22 on field goal attempts this season. Reed ranks second in team history with 919 career points (307 PATs, 204 FGs).” Ouch. Either one of the ladies in the PR Department is an unhappy notch on Skippy’s bedpost or somebody in the front office ordered them to twist the knife before throwing him overboard.
When Santonio Holmes was traded, the press release was very diplomatic, noting his career accomplishments and noting what they got in return. It didn’t say, “Today the Steelers traded Santonio Holmes for a clipboard and a couple of jockstraps. Holmes, with 235 catches for 3,850 yards, currently ranks 3rd on the all-time yardage by a pothead list. In 2009, he had over 1,000 yards receiving and was 1 for 1 in beaning chicks with a shotglass.”
I do think releasing Jeff has been in the plans for awhile. His off-field stupidity coupled with his outrageous salary demands already put him in a hole. He just dug it deeper by whining about his contract to the media (something the Rooneys despise) and then struck oil by claiming the “front office” aka Art Rooney II, “lied” to him when they promised he’d get a new contract before the season. Actually, I do believe the front office lied to him because the front office which used to be run with honor and integrity has become dishonest and hypocritical in recent years.
I don’t think this is “a message to the players.” since Reed is but a lowly kicker. Real football players think about their kicker about as much as they think about what their having for lunch. I doubt Willie Gay or Trai Essex are somewhere thinking, “Man, I better play better or I’ll get cut next!” Google any kicker and you’ll see they played for a list of teams. It’s an expendable position. If better options at CB, OL, or DL were available, they would already be here.
Let’s talk some Shaun Suisham. As you can see by the video above, he’s got a very strong leg. He was originally discovered by the Steelers but cut in training camp back in 2005. He’s a Canadian so instead of drunken man whore jokes I can now roll out my repertoire of Canuck humor. Since being cut by the Rams in training camp, the Black and Gold will be the first uniform he’s worn this season and his fifth team in the past six years.
Comparing their career numbers, Suisham and Reed aren’t much different. Suisham, who will also handle kickoffs, has a 60 yard average against Reed’s 61 yards. Suisham’s career kicking percentage is 79% vs. Skippy’s 81%. Of course, those numbers can be skewed by distance and place. For example, Suisham’s career percentage at 40-49 yards (75%) is actually significantly better than Reed’s (65%) although much of that probably has to do with Heinz Field where anything over 40 yards is anything but a gimme.
Although I wonder how much the Heinz Field Curse is overblown. The entire rationale to franchising Reed was because few people can kick at the Ketchup Bottle. In 2010, Skippy was 4 for 9 (44%) at home. His opponents, same wind, same field conditions, were 7 out of 9 (78%). Once Reed started blowing kicks at home, I knew his career in Pittsburgh had the life expectancy of the first towel dispenser he saw after hearing he had been released.
Sorry, had to work one more Sheetz joke in for old time’s sake.
The big red flag with Suisham is his ability to kick under pressure. Suisham has played in exactly two important games in his career and performed badly in both of them. Last year, the Redskins had a chance to upset the then-undefeated Saints but Suisham shanked a 23 yarder which always classy Washingtonians have dubbed “The Choke.” Suisham was later released and hooked on with the Cowboys. He contributed to their annual playoff meltdown by missing two kicks (both over 40 yards) in their NFC Divisional loss to the Vikings.
The Steelers play more than their share of big games so if this guy isn’t a big game kicker, we may be in for a long year. Then again, the Patriots once had the Big Ben of kickers, Adam Vinatieri, but didn’t want to pay him. They replaced him with a kid named Stephen Gostkowski and haven’t really missed a beat. So “clutch” kicking is not exactly irreplaceable. Although let’s hope the Steelers don’t find out the hard way that statement doesn’t always hold true.
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