For a player who was voted to his first Pro Bowl in 2017, the decline of Chris Boswell has been clear for all to see in his fourth season with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Just a year removed from hitting on 92.1 percent of his field goals, Boswell is making just 62.5 percent in 2018 and has missed five extra points through 13 games.
While his mistakes against the Oakland Raiders were nothing new this season, it would appear they might have been a breaking point for the coaching staff. After failing on two pivotal field goals on questionable turf at the Oakland Coliseum, Mike Tomlin confirmed that the Steelers would finally be investigating other options at kicker this week.
Speaking to reporters at his Tuesday press conference, Tomlin did not shy away from talking about the team’s struggles at the position. Acknowledging a need for a change in the result they have been getting, he announced the team would hold tryouts over the coming days to see if any of the available free agents represent an upgrade over Boswell.
“We acknowledge that Chris has struggled. We acknowledge that Chris has struggled to find consistent footing. We’re willing to explore options that gives us the very best chances of that ball going through the uprights this weekend. That being said, those options include Chris.”
“This time of year, we’re cognizant of what’s available. The prudent approach is to include Chris in those options, and that’s what we intend to do. His performance merits us turning stones over and looking at our options, but the easy decision for us to do is to assign blame, or to shoot a hostage, or to do things of that nature regarding Boz. That’s not our intention.”
“We want to do what is right for our football team. What’s right for our football team is to ensure that we give ourselves the very best chance of winning and that ball going through the upright this weekend. So we are looking at all options available to us including Chris. That has been displayed to him. He’ll be given an opportunity to play his way into this thing this weekend and we’ll go as I just outlined. That is the approach that we intend to take.”
Despite Boswell’s apparent issues all season long, Tomlin told reporters that the decision to investigate other options had only really been discussed in the last 24 hours and he would confirm the tryouts would be happening this week when asked a follow up question.
#LIVE: Coach Tomlin recaps Week 14, and looks ahead to our Week 15 matchup vs. New England. https://t.co/5XMpyGnIxh— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 11, 2018
Boswell has steadily become something of a fan favorite in Pittsburgh over the past few seasons and his struggles have been difficult to accept for those who have so much affection for him. Unfortunately, no matter how nice the young may seem to be, in a results driven league, personality is not enough to warrant keeping your job when you are failing at it.
However, given the current state of the free agent market for kickers, it might be fair to question the quality of the alternatives out there. With Blair Walsh, Caleb Sturgis, Nick Novak and Patrick Murray among the more recognizable names currently on the open market, sticking with Boswell could well end up being the best option.