First, let me say that Jeff Reed can say or do pretty much anything he wants and I won’t care. As long as he makes game-winning field goals, he’s got license to take photos of his junk, wreck insolent Sheetz towel dispensers and bellyache about the sorry state of previous Steelers’ special teams.
Skippy commented earlier this preseason about the team’s decision to give Daniel Sepulveda a chance to kick-off and he was back at it in Sunday’s Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
“I’m cheering for Dan,” Reed told the P-G. “It’s not like I’m against him, or that I’m mad at him. It’s not his fault. He’s a talented guy. But I’m very capable of doing it, I always thought I had been. And I thought I’ve done pretty well, at times a little inconsistent, but that’s life.
“I hate not making every kick a touchback, but it’s not going to happen. I’m a hang-time kind of kicker and always have been. And I’ll get a touchback here and there. It starts with me, but you also have to have a good coverage team. Teams are not going to take a knee if it does go into the end zone if your coverage team is weak.”
That last point is a good one. I’ve said previously that it might make more sense to find a strong-legged kickoff specialist to put balls out of the end zone as a quick-fix for the special-teams woes instead of overhauling the whole unit. The Steelers have done the latter, and if it works, great. If it doesn’t, well, I’m guessing we’ll hear more from Reed, who was also very frank about the ’09 coverage team:
“I can’t blame anybody, all I can say is how I kicked and you look at the four touchdowns that were given up, the kicks were fine; that wasn’t the problem. But, then again, I mishit a few other ones that great plays by guys saved me. You can’t pinpoint one thing.
“I just think there was a lack of discipline for the unit as a whole. When there’s 11 guys out there and half of them want to play and half of them are just out there, that’s what happens.”
Some folks are worked up about these observations, especially the last paragraph. I’m not. In fact, for the most part, he’s right. He’s a hang-time kicker, most of his kickoffs were fine, players occasionally made great coverage-teams saves, and four times they didn’t and gave up touchdowns.
No idea if half the guys were “just out there” going through the motions, but it would explain a lot. I read early in training camp (and now I can’t remember which player made the comment) that new special teams coach Al Everest has a plan, and things are much more organized than they were under Bob Ligashesky.
Time will tell, but Reed’s remarks are certainly reasonable. And as long as he keeps converting nearly 90 percent of his attempts, he’s free to continue flapping his gums. It’s a tradeoff I’m happily willing to make.