Shaun Suisham’s Troubling Preseason Continues

Shaun Suisham is coming off a season in which set a career-high in field goal percentage, connecting on 30 of 32 attempts at a rate of 93.8 percent. That just edged out his debut season with the Pittsburgh Steelers in 2010, during which he made 14 of 15 field goals in the final seven games for a rate of 93.3.

As I’ve previously written, Suisham is the most accurate field goal kicker the Steelers have had in their history, averaging 87.2 percent on field goal attempts during his three and a half seasons with the team.

That would make him the most accurate field goal kicker in league history, ahead of Mike Vanderjagt’s 86.466 percent career average, spent mostly kicking in a dome. Of course, Suisham’s overall career field goal percentage actually places him 14th, and 10th among active kickers.

It is because of these facts that the Steelers reached out to him this offseason in the final year of his contract to work out a new four-year extension averaging about $3 million per season.

It certainly was not because of his booming leg. He has only attempted 13 field goals from 50 yards or beyond, and made just four of them. Five attempts and two successful field goals have come with the Steelers.

And when it comes to kickoffs, Suisham only has 107 touchbacks in 511 attempts in his career, at a rate of just barely over 20 percent, though 81 of those touchbacks have come in the past three seasons since kickoffs were moved to the 35-yard line.

That rate is still well below average; 28 kickers had more touchbacks than Suisham a year ago, many of them substantially more.

Which is what makes it all the more concerning that the 32-year-old Canadian has missed three kicks so far this preseason, including an experimental extra point attempt from the 15-yard line that is basically a field goal.

It may be tempting to blame all the variables that Suisham has had to deal with this season. Having Brad Wing as his new holder, and even dealing with not one but two different long snappers with Greg Warren out, could presumably be a challenge.

On Thursday, Bryce Davis’ snap on Suisham’s miss was slightly to the right, but Wing fielded it and placed it very well for Suisham. I can’t reasonably assign blame on the ball placement on that miss, nor can I with the other misses, such as the one a week ago with Luke Ingram snapping.

And the truth of the matter is that Suisham is no stranger to variables. He has dealt with holder swaps not only from week to week but in-game with the Steelers, and it hasn’t affected his performance in the past. He’s even had to punt before.

Maybe a couple of preseason hiccups is not enough to go into panic mode over a kicker who has arguably been the best in team history, but it certainly begins to raise concerns as each game passes with such a hiccup. And the only way to find out if there is cause for concern is to allow it to play out.

About the Author

Matthew Marczi

Passionate Steelers fan with a bit of writing ability. Connoisseur of loud music. Follow me on Twitter @mmarczi.

  • Burgh Ball

    Been worried about sushi since we first signed him.. and we can worry about the Punter too.. whoever that will be,…

  • chris ward

    Not in panic mode, but it is concerning.

  • dgh57

    This is a problem we definitely don’t need! We need our FG Kicker as a fall back guy when drives stall! Just hope he gets his act together real soon because we already have enough problems with our less than stellar Punter!

  • treeher

    As soon as he signed the big contract, I said “Oh Oh.” Kickers should only be able to receive one year contracts.

  • SteveM2

    I wonder why Bruce Gradkowski isn’t doing the placekick holding?

  • RW

    My biggest issue is with kickoffs. Every time we allow a team to field the ball we give them a reasonably good chance to start beyond the 20. Get a guy who can kick it out of the end zone…

  • Matt Manzo

    Wtf, with our special teams?!
    How long has Danny Smith here?

  • steeltown

    When it rains it pours. The entire Team and coaching staff have to improve.

  • Brian Miller

    I will be honest, I am more in panic mode about the punting situation…we consistently give up plenty of yards in field position with our STs, and frankly it doesn’t look like our D will be able to account for this as well as they have in the past.

  • cencalsteeler


  • pat

    I would rather them allow the return better chance of a turnover than a return for a td

  • RW

    Forget tds and turnovers – there’s less than a 2 % chance either happens when a kick is returned. However, there is less than a 15% chance that a team scores from the 20 or inward and about a 45% chance from the 30 or greater. That alone is enough to put the ball in the end zone. It’s why virtually every other team does it…

  • pat

    With our need for turnovers and splash plays and the speed we have on coverage with Spence Shark ext. I say chance it

  • Dewayne Braxton

    The Suisham signing was just another nail in Tomlin’s coffin. In close range he is decent and he should be. Be over 40 yards he’s shaky. Suisham is right there with Gilbert, Foster, Beachum, Adams, and Mclendon-back up at best. How many times has he been let go?

  • CrazyTerry

    Suisham has been a good kicker at Heinz. But he has been an average kicker indoors. He also is a streaky kicker and has undergone confidence lows in the past. He still lost a game for us last year with the two chip misses at Oakland. Giving him a multiyear contract at that money level was just not a wise move. They should have just let him play out the year.

  • ApexSteel

    Is this a serious post?

  • Dewayne Braxton

    Yes, and there is no evidence to suggest it should be a serious post. They are key contributors on an 8-8 teams.

  • ApexSteel

    And it was their fault that they went 8-8 two years in a row? Now the fact that in 2012 we lost Ben for 3 games after he literally almost died and not the 21st ranked run D in 2013. Nope it was 3 starting O-linemen, one back-up, and a nose tackle who didn’t play in many sub packages. Since when is 8-8 a bad record?