First, for all of us who were denied the start and first half of the first quarter --the Boys will be aired again but in Full Monday at 3pm on NFL Network....although we still have to listen to their announcers.
On to the very Unspecial Teams unit. Can anyone say balance, balance, balance? Why did our left side get down the field flushing their man to our right side where we were 4 seconds late on coverage....ALL night long??? Where's the speed we've heard and read about all during camp?
Mentioning speed, whoever is teaching our guys needs to De-emphasize that word. I saw at least 3 times when we received kick-offs and our guy (since the player, not the approach, varied) thought by running as fast as he could something might open up for him. The name of the game in returns is to set up the other team, to realize that they are following the ball carrier so if your coverage is to the left and you run directly left then you create a 5pm rushhour log jam around your blockers (ie- no holes, lots of tacklers). Be elusive, run to your off side pulling their coverage & creating openings then run to where you have help. --See our guys wont be fooled. First off they aren't watching you like the kickoff people are and second they know where they are suppose to be. Back to the speed issue. When we received the kick off we raced forward and ran into the backs of our own guys, no cutting, no elusiveness, just bammmm-right into the back of the mass of bodies. Then on coverages here comes the speed again, only this time it flushes the pocket and runner because the speed is not balanced and now their returner becomes elusive instead of running into the pack where there are a hundred arms waiting to grab him.
The next issue with speed that needs looking at is the braking part. Speed for the sake of speed only gets you near the ball carrier and past him with but a moment to do anything. That's fine if he is still looking up in the air to field the ball (ie-unable to evade you, a helpless blocking dummy ready to be drummed good), but if he's got it then one juke move and you run past him at 90 miles an hour meaning they now have one more blocker than we have rusher since you've taken yourself out of the play. Teach'em to run down and break down giving the return man a body he has to get away from for several seconds not one split second. Speed to get there, brakes to stop just in front of him for Contain (a word I saw none of last night) and then quickness to match his moves and shrink the distance to make the tackle and allow the rest of the team to meet you at the goal...decking the ball carrier.
Balance! Speed on the front end to get there and pursue. Use your mind and your wheels. Think like a hornet not a bullet. My best buddy is a cop and he told me this after catching a robber. The robber says he is smarter than most folks cause they run in straight lines to get away from a gun fight but I know bullets can't turn corners... so I do (valid point but he just couldn't out run my buddy). Getting away sometimes isn't about distance it is about creating angles to make other guys miss, cause getting in the endzone with ten guys right on your tail is still worth 6 points and beats blinding straight-line speed that runs right into a single tackler!!! A bullet's threat may be its missle like speed but it has only one split second to hit you and if you are a wiggling and darting target, not one running in a straight line, then the chances of it hitting its intended mark are reduced a thousand to one. A hornet on the other hand approaches with speed and then slows till it determines its closing range then brings it. If it misses it has not thrown itself completely out of play and turns and re-enters the attack. I have been missed by a bullet before and stung by a number of hornets, so Boys --- learn to swarm!
Here's hoping we devote three practices to getting the guys sore from all the Special Teams practices we run them through....while they are Tackling at full speed learning to hate their mistakes enough to never make them again. We need special teams to be Special.