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Steelers Have To Decide — Boswell Or Suisham

Chris Boswell
Chris Boswell looks to be the long term answer as the Steelers placekicker (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar) photo from http://www.wpxi.com

Chris Boswell has been nothing short of money since the Steelers brought him in to kick, just prior to the San Diego Chargers game in Week 5. The first kick he attempted in that prime time game had the same weight of pressure as if it were a 43 yard kick to win the game. Boswell nailed it like he’d been there many times before, and like he has since. Prior to his first attempt with Pittsburgh, Boswell was asked if he had a preference for where he’d like to kick the ball from — the left hashmark, the right one, or even if he prefers to kick from straight on. Boswell said “I don’t care”. The Steelers found Boswell the same way they found former kicker Jeff Reed, at a tryout they held at Heinz Field, under miserable conditions.

Just like Jeff Reed, Chris Boswell is off to a phenomenal start in his career. On the season, Boswell has made 92.9% of his kicks, hitting on 26 of his 28 attempts. His only two misses have come from 40-49 yards, but he has been a perfect 2 for 2 from 50 yards and beyond. In his last game, Chris set a new franchise record for rookies with his 26th field goal, breaking Kris Brown’s former record of 25. The guy he is replacing, Shaun Suisham, is no slouch either. Suisham, who had failed in Dallas and with Washington because he was too inconsistent, seemed to find his groove in the NFL’s toughest venue for kickers.

In his eight games with the Dallas Cowboys, Suisham was successful on only 66.7% of his kicks before they ran out of patience with him. After a short stay in Dallas, it was on to Washington for Suish, where he drilled 80.2% of his kicks in 49 games with them. In Pittsburgh, Suisham seemed to have found a new lease on life, up until he tore his ACL trying to make a tackle in the Hall of Fame game in the preseason. Suish has teed it up with the Steelers for 71 games, to a success rate of 87.9%. During this time he has been almost automatic from 40 to 49 yards, going 44-50. From 50+ yards out though, he is at just under 50% hitting 3 out of his 8 attempts.

Between the end of the season and training camp, the Steelers are going to have to decide between Chris Boswell and Shaun Suisham. On the surface, it would appear to be a tough choice to make, but it really isn’t all that difficult when all the factors are weighed out. Sure, there is the chance that Boswell could just be that flash in the pan and falls off after a strong rookie season. But with his mental makeup, that’s very doubtful. He is younger, definitely cheaper, and he has an extremely strong leg. Suisham is 34 and is coming off of a major knee injury. Kickers put a lot of torque on their planting legs, so how might that affect his accuracy? How might it affect the lengths of his kicks? The fact that he is 34 means that his leg strength could start noticeably dropping off anyway, especially following his knee injury.

The Steelers definitely should not bring Suisham to camp next season, because that would be an indicator that there is an open competition for the job. It seems pretty obvious that Chris Boswell has earned the job with how he has performed to this point in the season. This is a choice that needs to be made prior to the opening of camp, regardless of the decision, because it gives either one of them the opportunity to find a team for the entire preseason, and not having to scramble to find one after being released by the Steelers. Nothing against Suish, but in this case youth should prevail because of cost, performance, and a stronger leg. Either choice, though, is a huge improvement over the failed Josh Scobee experience.

In this video, Adam Sandler could be singing about that disaster of a kicker. Scobee was brought in because of season ending injuries to Shaun Suisham and his replacement, Garrett Hartley. Both injuries occurred in almost back to back weeks during the preseason, leaving the Steelers desperate to find a kicker. Instead of a kicker, they got Scobee. When it was announced that the Steelers had traded for the former Jaguars kicker, it made sense, because he had already proven himself reliable for years. Now we see why the those Jags had no problems dumping him for next to nothing, but in the end, the Steelers struck gold with Chris Boswell.

Brian is a Steelers contributor to the Point of Pittsburgh. Born in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, he currently lives in Wheatfield, Indiana where he is a steelworker at ArcelorMittal USA. Brian is a blogger/Co-owner of Pittsburgh Sports Forum and https://reignreport.wordpress.com/

17 Comments on Steelers Have To Decide — Boswell Or Suisham

  1. Steel Minn // December 29, 2015 at 9:35 AM //

    Suisham has experience on his side but Boswell has a youthful leg and has been “money”, as you say. They have both shown they can be relied upon to make field goals, and just as important, extra points.
    Maybe the deciding factor should be who can more consistently turn their kick offs into touch backs.

  2. Jamie Barnhart // December 29, 2015 at 9:56 AM //

    Brian,
    I’m gonna play devil’s advocate because I love Suisham. First, Suisham is on a streak of several more consecutive kicks from 40-49 yards than Boswell had made altogether, and Boswell already has 2 misses. Second, Boswell’s 2 kicks over 49 have both only been 51 – Tomlin has shown at least twice that he doesn’t trust him beyond that distance.
    I don’t think the team owes it to the player to have a full preseason with their next team as much as it owes it to its fans to determine the best kicker for the team. That’s why I believe they should have an open competition. Suisham has been recently better than Boswell, but the injury leaves that a question that can only be answered on the field. I do acknowledge the youth and cost factor benefit of Boswell. If I were to guess now, I would say Boswell will get the job, as you indicated. But I would hope to see a competition. Either way, we’re set for a kicker next year. Too bad they couldn’t turn one into a punter! Lol

    • I see why you play devils advocate, because you are pretty darn good at it and you make very valid points. The Steelers would be justified if they saw this issue your way and decided to settle the issue in camp.

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