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Old 11-03-2006, 07:57 AM   #1
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Default Steelers special teams struggling

By Scott Brown
TRIBUNE-REVIEW
Friday, November 3, 2006


Bill Cowher isn't the only one frustrated by the Steelers' spotty special teams play.
"Since I've been here, we've never been covering like we are now," said Clint Kriewaldt, a special teams co-captain. "It just seems like, every game, we're giving up (a long kickoff return)."

Perception, unfortunately for Kriewaldt and the Steelers, almost matches reality. The Steelers have given up kickoff returns of 50 yards or more in three of their past four games.

If turnovers are the main culprit in the Steelers' 2-5 start, the special teams have to at least qualify as an accomplice. Two lost fumbles on punt returns have led to touchdowns, including a game-changing one in a loss to the Cincinnati Bengals.

The Steelers also allowed Atlanta to recover a surprise onside kick two weeks ago. That resulted in a touchdown that loomed large, considering the Steelers lost, 41-38, in overtime.

But the kick-coverage breakdowns may be most alarming because of their frequency.

"There is no question that one of the biggest disappointments has been the kicking game," Cowher said. "We're not making any excuses. We're just not getting it done."

Opponents' starting field position following a kickoff is their own 30-yard line, making the Steelers 30th out of 32 teams in that category. The Steelers also are last in net punting average.

It could be argued that turnover, along with turnovers, have sabotaged the Steelers this season.

The offenses and defenses from last season's Super Bowl-winning team remain largely intact. That isn't the case with the special teams, though.

Antwaan Randle El, an explosive punt returner, signed with the Washington Redskins during the offseason.

The Steelers, meanwhile, cut Quincy Morgan during training camp. Morgan, who averaged 25.3 yards per kickoff return last season, will face the Steelers in the same capacity Sunday when the Denver Broncos visit Heinz Field.



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------


Losing field position
Here's how the Steelers have performed covering kickoffs and punt returns this season as compared to last season:
...........................................2005... 2006
Opponents' kickoff return avg. 21.6....24.4
Opponents' punt return avg.......9.1.....8.9
Net punting average................34.7...37.2



--------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Special teams losses through free agency and because of personnel decisions -- the team also released Chidi Iwuoma -- have been compounded by injuries to key players, such as James Harrison and Mike Logan.

"Basically, the same guys for three years straight were running down next to each other," Kriewaldt said. "You can kind of feel where a guy's going to be. You're comfortable someone's always going to have your back.

"Now, you've got guys still trying to feel their way out. You've got to be a little more disciplined."

Added special teams co-captain Sean Morey: "Does it affect us losing key guys that we had last year? Of course. But, with a lot of new guys out there, we've got to be able to jell together and play well, be professional, cover kicks hard, fast, aggressive and produce."

Shoring up the special teams is one of the Steelers' biggest priorities as they try to get back on track this season.

"We understand that we need to be a lot more productive as a cover unit in order to help our team win games," Morey said. "It's just that simple."
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Old 11-03-2006, 08:28 AM   #2
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Default Re: Steelers special teams struggling

Well, Coach Cowher, you know the dang problem...NOW FIX IT!!!!!!!!!!!!!
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Old 11-03-2006, 02:22 PM   #3
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Default Re: Steelers special teams struggling

bring back CHIDI!!!!
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Old 11-03-2006, 03:38 PM   #4
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Default Re: Steelers special teams struggling

Wow, Scott Brown is a quick one....

Tell us something we didn't already know since week one when Wes Welker ran all over us.
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Old 11-03-2006, 03:52 PM   #5
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Default Re: Steelers special teams struggling

Quote:
Originally Posted by 83-Steelers-43 View Post
Wow, Scott Brown is a quick one....

Tell us something we didn't already know since week one when Wes Welker ran all over us.
beat me to postin the exact same thing

Quote:
...........................................2005... 2006
Opponents' kickoff return avg. 21.6....24.4
Opponents' punt return avg.......9.1.....8.9
Net punting average................34.7...37.2
but when i look at this the only place we got worse is on kickoff coverage
Gardocki is punting farther
they r returnin those punts for less (slightly)
they are gettin bout 2.7 yards per return closr this year...

WOW
how much does tht actually affect the game?????
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Old 11-03-2006, 05:30 PM   #6
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Default Re: Steelers special teams struggling

Quote:
The Steelers, meanwhile, cut Quincy Morgan during training camp. Morgan, who averaged 25.3 yards per kickoff return last season, will face the Steelers in the same capacity Sunday when the Denver Broncos visit Heinz Field.
We can thank Bruce Arians the Steelers Receivers Coach for probably influencing the release of Quincy Morgan.
I remember hearing an interview with Quincy during or shortly after training camp where he said him and Arians have never been on the greatest of terms(Probably something lingering from their Cleveland days)and that Arians preferred the smaller receivers.

Arians more than likely put the Kabash on keeping Quincy during the final cuts.
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Old 11-04-2006, 07:45 AM   #7
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Default Re: Steelers special teams struggling

Fire Kevin Spencer!
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