The regular season is now over, and the Pittsburgh Steelers are taking their practices at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, formerly known and still referred to as the ‘South Side’ facility of Heinz Field. While the postseason is now upon us, there is plenty left to be done.
And there are plenty of questions left unanswered as well. The offseason is just really the beginning phase of the answer-seeking process, which is lasts all the way through the Super Bowl for teams fortunate enough to reach that far.
You can rest assured that we have the questions, and we will be monitoring the developments in the playoffs as they develop, and beyond, looking for the answers as we look to evaluate the makeup of the Steelers as they try to navigate their way back to playoff success, in which they are, at least supposed to be, among the favorites to win the Super Bowl.
Question: Will the Steelers actually consider making a change at the kick returner position after Sunday’s performance?
In Sunday’s Wildcard game against the Dolphins, the Steelers recorded three kick returns. None of them actually managed to reach the 20-yard line. Two were fielded by Fitzgerald Toussaint, while one was taken by Sammie Coates.
On the opening kickoff for the game, Toussaint fielded the ball at the goal line, but was only able to bring it out to the 15-yard line before he went down. The Steelers were able to compensate for the poor starting field position, however, with an 85-yard drive that ended with a 50-yard touchdown.
After a late first-quarter field goal, the Dolphins kicked off again, and once again, it was fielded by Toussaint. This was a short kick and he had no choice but to return it, from the five-yard line, but he gained just 12 yards, out to the 17. The offense responded with an 83-yard touchdown drive.
The third time around, after another field goal, it was Coates who fielded the kickoff, taking it out of the end zone from four yards deep. He returned it 22 yards to the 18-yard line. The offense responded by throwing an interception after another promising drive, and nearly led to points for the Dolphins the other way.
The Steelers were able to compensate on Sunday for the obvious very bad performance form their kick return unit. When you have three returns and none of them reach the 25, yes, it is a very bad performance. And really, it hasn’t been all that much better throughout the year.
Toussaint is actually currently in the concussion protocol. If he is still in the protocol by Sunday, he will obviously not be able to play in the game. But would the Steelers actually consider turning to somebody other than Coates? They briefly did use Justin Gilbert for a couple of games, but that trial run ended abruptly.