The Pittsburgh Steelers are preparing for the 2022 regular season, but before the real games begin, the team has to head to training camp back at St. Vincent College in order to fine tune their skills. As we here at BTSC prepare you for the start of camp, we give you a series called “30 Scenarios in 30 Days” which gives you a Steelers scenario every day leading up to the start of camp.
It is simple how it works. We provide you the scenario, reasons why it will or won’t happen, and then our prediction for what we think will take place.
Let’s get to the scenario...
Scenario: The Steelers will have a kick return for a touchdown in 2022
Why it will happen: First, I wanted to clarify by a kick return for a touchdown I mean either a return from a punt or a kickoff. Additionally, this does not include a blocked kick return for a touchdown like the Steelers had in 2021. The Steelers haven’t returned a kickoff since Week 17 of the 2017 season by JuJu Smith-Schuster and their last punt return, not on a block, came in Week 14 of the 2019 season by Diontae Johnson. The Steelers went out and invested in the return position for 2022 and brought in former All-Pro returner Gunner Olszewski. If it so happens that Gunner O. doesn’t win the job, then the Steelers have an even better option to have a chance of breaking a kick this season.
Why it won’t happen: Yes, the Steelers invested in Gunner Olszewski to come in as a kick returner. Even though he was an All-Pro in 2020, he only had one punt return for a touchdown that year. Not only that, that is his only kick return for a touchdown in his three-year career. So to think Olszewki is magically going to be breaking every kick for the Steelers is a bit naive as it is more about a better average return to help in field position that is the bigger draw.
Prediction: For this one, I’m going to agree with the scenario. If looking strictly at kickoff punt returns for touchdowns, the Steelers went two-straight seasons without one. The last time they did that was in 1998 and 1999. To go back to when the Steelers last went three seasons without a kick return for a touchdown, that would be from 1993 through 1995. Dating back to the Bill Cowher and Three River Stadium era for when the Steelers last had this kind of drought, the Steelers statistically should be due for a kick return in 2022. With 10 teams having a return touchdown in 2021 and 11 in 2020, it’s not all that rare of an occurrence since about one-third of the NFL has done it each of the last two years. But the history and numbers don’t matter as ultimately it just takes the right scenario in order for the team to get it done. But if they do, it is noteworthy that the Steelers are 10-0 in games where they returned a kickoff, punt, or blocked punt for a touchdown in the Mike Tomlin era. So get it!
Check out yesterday’s ‘30 Scenarios in 30 Days’ prediction:
Be sure to stay tuned to BTSC for the latest news and notes surrounding the black and gold as they prepare for the 2022 regular season.