Joe Must Go? - how Ordinary are our Special Teams?

Joe D has gone from fan favourite to goat in a few easy steps.

Back in 2009 he gained a lot of kudos, not only for bouncing back from the neck injury but also for improving a special teams performance that had languished amongst the worst in the league for a number of seasons. In fact, when time came to let Wade ride off into the sunset, the notion of giving Joe the big job wasn't seen as a completely crazy idea.

But 2 games into 2012 they are back on the bottom, which begs the question, how ordinary have our special teams been during Joe D's tenure? To assess this I have looked at rankings from PFF, Football Outsiders and a count of big plays (Blocks and TDs).


PFF's rankings are based on assessing individual players. But ultimately the job of a coach is to get the best from his players so their aggregate rankings are a reasonable measure of the coaches performance. The chart below shows the PFF aggregate score of the Cowboy's special teams. As individual kicker and punter's scores are a very high proportion of the total score I have shown the score with and without the kickers scores. (sorry can't get the chart to work, I have a URL via dropbox, but site doesn't like it..., so table instead)



PFF with


PFF without kickers
2008 -19.7 -25.0
2009 24.7 -0.7
2010 23.2 -2.4
2011 21.1 -5.4
2012 -4.7 -6.5

It is clear from the scores the Joe D has driven a big improvement since taking over in 2009. Of concern however, is that there was a big jump in his first year, taking the team from a 30th ranking to 10th, the team has declined every year since. Further, if you take out McBriar's punts and Beuller's kickoffs, the overall team performance remained in negative territory. And the performance so far in 2 games in 2012 on a pro rata basis is almost twice as bad as 2008.

Football Outsiders

FO do a relatively complex assessment of relative performance, but in simple terms their analysis looks something like this:

2008 ranked 27th : everything but Folk's FGs sucked

2009 ranked 14th: Folk got the yips but Beuhler's kickoffs and Crayton's 2 punt return TDs jumped us up the list

2010 ranked 15th: Kick returns still suck, Beuhler's FGs are below average but Mcbriar's punting and 3 Punt return Ds (2 by Dez) keep us up the list

2011 ranked 25th: After 2 great years, Punt returns now suck, as do Punts with McBriar's injury. Other areas around average

2012 ? game 2 not incorporated yet but we were 20th after game 1....

FO thus confirms the same decline as PFF. Also doesn't show much consistentency - other than Kick Returns which were consistently bad....

Big Plays

The table below shows big plays - Kicks blocked and TDs scored by the Cowboys and their opponents. Small numbers but again the same story, nice jump in net big plays in 2009 but decline since then.

Kicks Blocked TD Scored NET
2006 - 1 1 1 -1
2007 1 1 - 2 -2
2008 1 1 1 1 -
2009 2 - 2 1 3
2010 1 2 3 1 1
2011 2 2 - - -
2012 - 1 - - -1


Joe D. got us back to average in 2009 but we have gone backwards since then. That does not seem sufficient in my book for him to keep his job. However, I can see only bad things from letting him go during the season so if I was JG I would make it very clear he is coaching for his job and give him all the support I can - but if there isn't a significant recovery through the balance of the season, then Joe must Go!

Another user-created commentary provided by a BTB reader.

SB Nation Featured Video
Log In Sign Up

Log In Sign Up

Forgot password?

We'll email you a reset link.

If you signed up using a 3rd party account like Facebook or Twitter, please login with it instead.

Forgot password?

Try another email?

Almost done,

By becoming a registered user, you are also agreeing to our Terms and confirming that you have read our Privacy Policy.

Join Blogging The Boys

You must be a member of Blogging The Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blogging The Boys. You should read them.

Join Blogging The Boys

You must be a member of Blogging The Boys to participate.

We have our own Community Guidelines at Blogging The Boys. You should read them.




Choose an available username to complete sign up.

In order to provide our users with a better overall experience, we ask for more information from Facebook when using it to login so that we can learn more about our audience and provide you with the best possible experience. We do not store specific user data and the sharing of it is not required to login with Facebook.