Our special teams play last year was exciting - for opposing fans! Most of us were terrified when our special teams were on the field. Can anyone forget that awful feeling during the Cardinals game when Mat McBriar was stuffed in the end zone, breaking his ankle and ending his season?
Bruce Read is gone and Joe DeCamillis is now in charge of Cowboys special teams. Just who is this Joe D?
He has been likened to a younger Joe Avezzano. Coach Joe D was offered a contract extension by the Jags but turned it down, wanting to try his luck on the open market. It paid off when Jerry Jones came calling.
When DeCamillis was hired by the Jaguars two years ago he spoke out on his philosophy regarding special teams.
Your punt team is your most important team. You have to worry about protection first and then you have to cover. It's the only special teams that is an offensive team first and then becomes a special teams. When we had our best special teams in Atlanta, that was our best teams.
As far as the punting game, we're a directional team. We'll always have a directional call made. The best punt to me is a 40-yard fair catch. If you get that every time, you're going to lead the league in net and you'll never have a punt returned for a touchdown,"
On kickoff coverage, you want to pin the returner against the sideline and eliminate big returns. Forget about return average. If we're last in that, I don't care. The thing I'm concerned about is the starting point.
DeCamillis started his coaching career in 1988 with the Broncos as a defensive QC coach and then moved up to assistant special teams coach before his final Bronco's season in 1992.
He followed his father-in-law Dan Reeves to the Giants and served as their special teams coach from 1993- 1996.
From 1997 to 2006 he was with the Falcons as special teams coach, and promoted to special teams coordinator in 2004. It just so happens that Wade Phillips was coaching in Atlanta for part of that time.
In 2007 he joined the Jacksonville Jaguars as their special teams coordinator until Jerry Jones lured him here to begin the 2009 season as a Cowboy.
Joe D is a hard charger and has shown positive results every place he has been. He worked with a fellow named Wade Philips in Denver as well as Atlanta. Joe knows special teams - he has 17 years of successful NFL special teams coaching experience but never played a down of college or pro ball.
- His 1996 Giants team led the league in punts downed inside the 20
- His 2002 Falcons squad set the franchise season record for most field goals and most points (32 and 138 respectively). His punter Chris Mohr led the league in net punting average. (38.7 yards)
- His 1999 Falcons team allowed only 26 punts returned for a total of 119 yards. The leagues best that year.
- His 1998 unit allowed only 112 punt return yards
- The 2003 Falcons ranked 2nd in the league in kickoff and punt returns
Comparing the Jags and Cowboys special teams from last year -
|2008 Special teams
|Net Punt Avg.
Is hiring a new coach going to turn around our special teams play overnight? That's unlikely - but Coach DeCamillis' history suggests that it will improve this year. He has the coaching experience and he understands how the ST game is played. Based on some of the reports we read last year Bruce Read seemed to struggle even in training camp. DeCamillis won't have that problem.
Nick Folk will be back, McBriar will be back and our special teams play will benefit from having Coach Joe D calling the shots.