Steelers let go of former special teams coach Al Everest last year for better performances

Justin K. Aller

Regardless of the reason for Everest's sudden termination last season, the Steelers' special teams units played better at this point in the preseason than the current group is. They've allowed a kickoff return touchdown, punt and field goal attempts to be blocked and have fumbled a punt return.

The Steelers sometimes need an entire regular season to allow a punt and field goal to be blocked, give up a kickoff return touchdown and fumble a punt.

Danny Smith's Steelers have managed to do that in just three preseason games.

Wins and losses don't matter to fans in the preseason, but special teams gaffes sure do. There's a significant problem here, and as Steelers coach Mike Tomlin said in his press conference following the team's 26-20 (OT) loss to the Chiefs, they are running out of time to fix those problems.

Those are all significant events in the course of a normal game. They're big boosts in terms of breaking open a tight game, or giving one team a jolt of momentum. The fact the Steelers are continuously on the wrong side of plays that are, statistically speaking, rare occurrences is beyond troubling.

Whether it's a personnel issue or a coaching issue, the Steelers have let go of their special teams coach in preseason before - last year they parted ways with Al Everest suddenly. Not to suggest Smith should be terminated, but clearly, the group under his watch has performed far worse than Everest's did.

These games count pretty quick, and it's a fair assumption Tuesday's first cut list will include several players who did not get the job done on special teams over the team's first three preseason games.

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