News: Fox SW: Examining the realities of special teams

Discussion in 'News Zone' started by CCBoy, Aug 23, 2012.

  1. CCBoy

    CCBoy Well-Known Member

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    Examining the realities of special teams
    by Bob Sturm

    There is so little information out in the blogosphere about special teams for football fans to read and fully grasp the realities and concepts about what helps a team survive the catastrophes of a blunder. A team plays hard and executes a game plan against a tough opponents for four quarters of war, but a blocked punt surrendered sabotaged all efforts and placed that game in the loss column.

    It happens all of the time and is one of the most stressful parts of a head coach's life. It happened to Norv Turner in 2010 with the San Diego Chargers after a 13-3 team from the previous year missed the playoffs and finished 9-7 largely because of blunders on their special teams. And, to many, those blunders happened because when it came time to pick the roster, not enough consideration was placed on having proper special teams players on your sideline.

    When you are picking a roster, it is much easier to do so without any regard to the special teams. Pick the best players who can help your offense and your defense. Then, grab a punter and a kicker and everyone will figure it out as we go, right? Well, the Chargers thought that and their promising season exploded.

    They are the most recent example of a team that was good enough being sabotaged, but the history books are littered with them. So, that is why, in this space, we like to be the rare media type that tracks this sort of information rather than the normal and generic phrase you will see in stories that says, "he is good on special teams" or he "contributes on special teams." That is vague and incomplete information. Let's actually figure out who is doing what. And to do so, I picked a game from last season to study...
  2. CCBoy

    CCBoy Well-Known Member

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    Special Teams And The Dallas Cowboys Roster
    by Tom Ryle

    Thing that I got from this is that you have to have some players on the roster who are primarily there for special teams. A team cannot just take the best players for each of the positions on the offense and defense, but has to invest in some specialists. Now, we have all heard about how the special teams are an often overlooked part of the game, but this goes a bit deeper. Sturm breaks down the 2011 Cowboys game at the Washington Redskins, and looks at the entire roster. He covers every snap of the game and all 46 players who were active that day - most of whom were on the field at some point. As far as I can tell, only the backup QB and some backup linemen failed to see any use. Of particular interest to me, he looked at the four special teams formations (excluding field goal/extra points) - kickoff return, punt return, kickoff coverage and punt coverage. There were several players who saw very little or no action on the offense or defense, but were very involved in these four ST units.

    There were seven players who were on all four of the special teams groups: Jesse Holley, Owusu-Ansah, Alex Albright, Danny McCray, Barry Church, Bruce Carter, and John Phillips. All were players who saw almost no time on the field with the offense or defense, and AOA was on the roster strictly for special teams, as Strum sees it.

    All bottom of the roster types. No linemen involved, because you have to have players who can run when you are covering or returning. But the main thing is, they just about have to be players that are hardly going to see the field outside these plays, because they cannot be too worn out.

    I never thought about that. As Sturm puts it:

    If there is an injury in the first quarter, are you prepared to ask the 44th guy on your roster to cover kicks against Brandon Banks or DeSean Jackson with your season on the line?

    You better be.

    This puts a whole new light on things...
  3. burmafrd

    burmafrd Benched

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    That is why I am amazed at those that see no problem letting LP go for someone untested in the NFL at long snaps.

    LP has NEVER made a bad snap in over 1000 plays.

    And I guess they forget the last time we tried to go cheap on a LS it did not end well.
  4. kmd24

    kmd24 Active Member

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    This is one of the reasons I thought Danny Coale had a good shot at making the roster.

    I'm not sure how much ST work he will have gotten by final cutdowns, but from what I understand he was a willing contributor on KO coverage and punt coverage and even punted and returned a handful of punts at VT. After the draft, Todd McShay predicted he would step in right away at gunner.

    I'm not sure we'll keep 6 WR, and I'm not sure he's done enough to beat out Harris or Beasley, but he could definitely fill multiple roles on ST.
  5. DFWJC

    DFWJC Well-Known Member

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    Of course, that is also the reason Harris has extra value--he can play on 4 different special teams units, and play well. Huge difference between Harris and Beasely there...and potentially Coale and Beasely as well.
  6. DFWJC

    DFWJC Well-Known Member

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    Good article.

    Think about the some of our losses last year. I can think of 3 losses right away that may have been determined by Speical teams blunders.
    1. Blocked punt in the jets game to give them the winning margin.
    2. Blocked FG at the end of the Giants game.
    3. The infamous Arizona freeze job.
    I'm sure I'm missing others.
    But that's a record of 11-5 right there just on three plays.
  7. ethiostar

    ethiostar Well-Known Member

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    Great read!!!

    Thanks for posting.
  8. Idgit

    Idgit That sounds really boring Staff Member

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    That was a really good read.
  9. jjktkk

    jjktkk Well-Known Member Zone Supporter

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    I'm equally amazed that you find this amazing. NFL GMs are always looking to save money. So far this traing camp, Hughlett has shown the abilty to be a decent LS. It would be a big risk to cut Ladouceur, but I understand the potential move, if it happens.
  10. Denim Chicken

    Denim Chicken Well-Known Member

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    The two areas that I'm most concerned about going into this season are special teams and penalties.
  11. CCBoy

    CCBoy Well-Known Member

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    This was kind of what the article was about...putting a game all on the line with someone that has to show up on a game day roster. LP has been a rock for a long time, and his salary, by NFL standards, isn't up there beyond that of a Veteran with time amassed.

    On a basis of loyalty, and his dependability, I'm pulling for him...
  12. Picksix

    Picksix A Work in Progress

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    But isn't that how we got LP in the first place? We had Jeff Robinson, who was a very good long snapper. IIRC, he got a better deal with another team, and they didn't try to resign him because they were confident in LP's ability to take over that spot.
  13. arglebargle

    arglebargle Well-Known Member

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    And Robinson was actually decent at another position as well, adding an extra body on ST packages other than punting/FGs as well as positional backup.

    My main worry with dumping LP is that it will mean we'd be replacing both the snapper and holder/punter in one season. It could work, of course, but it'd be a bit of tension for awhile.

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