Special Teams -- Not so Special


Jul 30, 2006
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Nobody Does It Worse -- from JsOnline

Ranking reflects state of special teams
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Posted: Feb. 15, 2007
Green Bay - The Green Bay Packers changed their kicker, their punter, their kick returners and their special-teams coach last season.

It just didn't do much good.

Based on the Dallas Morning News' annual statistical analysis, the Packers finished 32nd in overall special-teams performance in 2006, just as they did in '05.

"A thirty-second rank in special teams is not OK," coach Mike McCarthy said. "We definitely need to improve. There's no question about it."

The analysis ranked teams in 22 areas of special teams, with one point assigned to the best team in each category and 32 points for the worst. After finishing last with 442½ points in 2005, the Packers were even worse in '06 with 493½ points.

Chicago was first with 237½ points, followed by Tennessee (240), Buffalo (252½), the New York Jets (295), Cleveland (296½) and Detroit (296½).

Four of the eight teams at the bottom of the rankings were coached by first-year head coaches with offensive backgrounds. The list included Green Bay under McCarthy, Houston under Gary Kubiak, Minnesota under Brad Childress and St. Louis under Scott Linehan.

From 1990-2004, the Packers never ranked worse than 25th. They were eighth in 2003, ninth in '04 and then 32nd in '05 under John Bonamego, who coached New Orleans to a tie for 10th in '06.

Bonamego's replacement, Mike Stock, was out of football in 2005 after coaching St. Louis to a 32nd-place finish in '04.

Although displeased with the results, McCarthy pointed out that there were almost no catastrophic mistakes made by the special teams.

"I don't think you can sit there and talk about scheme or displacement," he said. "Everybody talked about our youth but the guy who had the most youth was the special teams coach. That was never talked about.

"You can't get too far away from the film. We didn't finish last in any of the categories. But things like no points, no blocks, no turnovers, that's the stuff that's more about attitude and approach than anything. I'm actually excited about the body types and the ability. We've got a lot to work with."

Stock and his assistant, Shawn Slocum, will return. McCarthy said he didn't attempt to lure Steve Hoffman, the exceptional kicking coach who wasn't retained by Atlanta but then was hired by Miami this week as assistant special teams coach.

As a Packers consultant in the '05 off-season, Hoffman made improvements in punter B.J. Sander. If kicker Dave Rayner and punter Jon Ryan fail to improve in their second seasons, the Packers might seek replacements.

"I'm very comfortable with the technique work and the fundamentals that they do with both our kickers," McCarthy said. "You didn't even know both of our kickers when the season started. I think you'll see some improvement just from some of the things we're going to do with Jon in the off-season."

The Packers ranked 24th in punt-return average and 31st in kickoff-return average. However, McCarthy saluted 30-year-old punt returner Charles Woodson for catching everything and preventing most roll yardage.

"You look at what Devin Hester did in Chicago, that obviously makes a difference," he said. "I feel very good about (Woodson) but also you've got to be conscious of his age and (position). I'm going to look at (Shaun) Bodiford and some other young guys."

Why was Stock hired if he was out of football in 2005 after leading the Rams to last place finish in 2004? I guess there is no place to go but up. Wait, that didn't work. We were even further in last place!!

I would hope that we would improve as players are solidified into their starting positions in the new system. Since special-teamers are usually backups, as the talent level of the starters increase, we should also see an improvement in the level of backup that we are able to keep on the team. That should help out in the next year or so.

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