[Ed Note]: BTB will be running a series of posts over the next few weeks highlighting some of the articles in the new magazine Maple Street Press Cowboys Annual. You can pre-order the magazine for delivery by visiting the Maple Street Press website. We appreciate any orders, you'll be supporting Rafael and I along with BTB. So go pre-order now.
[DCFanatic]: After being stunned that Dave thought I could pull off an article, writing and blogging are two different worlds in my opinion, and after happily accepting the offer, I then had to decide what to offer up. I figured I would go with a 'fan's expectations for 2009' theme.
Here's one of the topics I covered, and while it may not be the sexiest part of the game, most diehard fans know that if this team doesn't change it's ways on special teams we probably won't see the playoffs come January.
And again I have to thank Dave for the opportunity and I hope you guys enjoy the read.
[Excerpt from the actual magazine article]:
If you believe the quiet chatter that began coming out of Valley Ranch early last season about Wade Phillips not really putting much emphasis into the Special Teams units then you are happy to see that the Cowboys are now completely invested in getting things turned around in that area.
In comes new Special Teams Coach Joe Decamillis and a slew of fast and fearless rookies to help the Cowboys win some battles on kickoffs and punt returns.
When you look at the kick return, punter and kicker positions on the Cowboys you will not find any real problems. Whether it was Felix Jones, Miles Austin or even Isaiah Stanback returning kickoffs the Cowboys were in good hands. It looks as if Mat McBriar is going to make a full recovery from a broken foot so he should be back to a Pro Bowl level in 2009. And in drafting a kickoff specialist in David Buehler to go with Pro Bowler Nick Folk the Cowboys are all set at Kicker.
The main problem last year was that at key times opposing teams were allowed to come up with big plays while the Cowboys just seemed to be punching a clock on those same plays. Just think Arizona Cardinals.
Special teamers are a different breed. When you have guys begging to play special teams then you will most likely find some success. But when you have guys walking around wondering why they are playing special teams and not starting then you are destined to find failure.
Decamillis has to find a punt returner and his name can't be Patrick Crayton. Ask some players around the NFL if they are afraid of Crayton's return skills and you will most definitely get a few chuckles. Fifth round rookie Cornerback/Safety DeAngelo Smith was a punt returner while at Cincinnati so he's going to get a shot at winning the job.
Then Decamillis has to find some guys from the current roster and rookie class who have what is called the ‘want to' in the game of football. What is that? That is when no matter what the task is in front of you, you ‘want to' tackle it head on and with full force. You get enough of those guys on special teams and things usually work out ok, if not great.
What to expect from the Cowboys special teams in 2009?
The answer is in the magazine!