Knile Davis scored on a kickoff return last night. Mandatory Credit: Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports

Are Poor Special Teams Play & Constant Penalties the "New Normal" For the Steelers?


Despite their 0-3 start to the preseason, some positive things have happened for the Steelers.  The play of rookies like Jarvis Jones, Markus Wheaton, and Shamarko Thomas has been solid, their veterans on defense (Larry Foote, Ryan Clark, Troy Polamalu, Brett Keisel, Ike Taylor, etc.) have stayed relatively healthy, and Ben Roethlisberger looked to be in midseason form last night against Kansas City.

Yet for all of the positives, one cannot simply ignore the the types of glaring negatives the Steelers have put on display during preseason play.  In fact, I would be inclined to say that poor play on special teams coupled with numerous undisciplined penalties have become the new normal in Pittsburgh after what has happened over the last few seasons and now during preseason play.

Take for instance what has happened during the last three games alone:


  • New York Giants (Preseason Week 1): 7 penalties for 50 yards, blocked punt


  • Washington Redskins (Preseason Week 2): 8 penalties for 95 yards, allowed 53 punt return yards to Skye Dawson


  • Kansas City Chiefs Game (Preseason Week 3): 9 penalties 98 yards, blocked field goal, shanked punt which led to tying touchdown drive late in 2nd quarter, allowed 109 yard kickoff return for touchdown


Not only have the Steelers upped their penalties and penalty yardage each week, they have consistently crapped the bed on special teams.  I know I certainly hate to sound like a “Negative Nancy,” but it made absolutely zero sense as to why the team let Al Everest go as their special teams coach before last year began in favor of Amos Jones.

Due to how poorly Jones’ units performed, he was fired after only one season.  Unfortunately for the Steelers, new special teams coach Danny Smith who has done nothing to turn around Pittsburgh’s pathetic special teams since he assumed the job earlier this spring.

I certainly do not want to assume a “sky is falling” mentality right now, but I do not care how much talent there is on the field for Pittsburgh this fall.  If their bone-headed penalties halt drives and take points off of the board and their special teams play allows the other team to rack points up for themselves, then this team will be in trouble if this type of play bleeds into the regular season.



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Tags: 2013 Preseason Danny Smith Penalties Pittsburgh Steelers

  • Milliken Steeler

    You can’t judge the special teams based on the fact that he has been using people that aren’t going to be on this team. trying to find people that are on the bubble, that might play well on special teams.

    The penalties with the new flag football mentality we have are probably going to effect everyone. That call on Troy P was very questionable at best.

    There are penalties and mistakes being made but Im not going to panic until week one with out set 53 playing.

    • Dom DiTolla

      The special teams play has been spotty over the last two years, and it has been more of the same during the preseason. The point I was trying to make was that it has just been a continuation of bone-headed mistakes
      on that particular unit for the Steelers.

      If they cannot exercise discipline, then I don’t care how much talent this team has because the penalties, poor special teams play, and lack of production in the red zone will doom this team if it bleeds into the regular season.

  • Milliken Steeler

    Okay Dom I agree to a point. lol I was just trying to say. New ST Coach an exorbitant amount of guys playing on special teams that normally wouldn’t be on our squad period etc.

    With the first round of cuts just made lets see if I’m right as they get closer to what will be their final 53, I’m expecting them to improve from Saturdays game. Maybe not with penalties yet but with blown plays, missed tackles, blocked punts, field goals on special teams. Cheers.

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