Tuesday, January 25, 2011
Year in Review: Special Teams
Much like a bullpen in baseball, you will never notice a football team's special teams unless it's among the best in the league or it's really bad. Unfortunately for the Giants' sake, this year's special teams was really bad. The coverage was bad, the punting was bad, the return game was bad, but the only thing that was positive this season was the field goal unit.
The most surprising thing about the Giants' special teams is the way the high field goal percentage of 82.6%. For the most part, Lawrence Tynes has never been a guy to have a high percentage, but he was known for his kick in the 2008 NFC Championship game. You might remember that he also missed two much easier potential game-winning field goals earlier in that game as well. After struggling in the beginning of the season with holder Matt Dodge, the Giants changed to Sage Rosenfels and Lawrence Tynes made virtually every kick since then. This was the only bright spot in the special teams this season.
The punting was one of the worst I have seen in a really long time. Of course, that's what happens when you get spoiled with Jeff Feagles the past 7 seasons. As a rookie punter, Matt Dodge showed a strong leg ranking 9th in punting average. However, the other numbers were not so pretty. Dodge also ranked 31st in net yards, was the only punter to allow 2 to be returned for touchdowns and ranked 24th in amount of punts landed inside the 20-yard line. For now, I'll give Matt Dodge a pass because he's a rookie, but if this continues next season, he has to go.
I can't blame all the punting problems on Matt Dodge this season. The coverage was awful. Even though Matt Dodge should not have punted the ball directly to DeSean Jackson, where was the coverage? As you might recall, he dropped the ball and the ball rolled several yards away. Even with that, no one was even close to catching up to him. Granted he's fast, but he's not THAT quick. No one is. This is a huge surprise, because the Giants have always been known to do these small things well. When teams cover punts well, no one noticed. When they don't, this is what happens.
This season, the Giants were the only team in the NFL to not have a return of any kind whether it's a fumble recovery, interception, punt or kickoff. That is very surprising considering the Giants led the league in 39 takeaways. You would think that one of those fumbles or interceptions would've been returned for a touchdown, even with all the problems they had in the special teams.