Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Special Teams Report - Part 1

On Today's Entry, I wanted to research who is a major contributor to special teams and who is not. This is actually a bit of a painstaking process because they do not make this information available anywhere in the NFL at this point. The only way to find out who is on the field and who is not on a given special teams unit is to watch carefully and take notes.

That makes these findings somewhat unofficial because TV does not always provide enough shots to insure complete accuracy. But, we do the best we can.

The first thing I want to do is select 4 different games for our sample size (I had to complete this in 1 morning, so I was not going to go through 16 game tapes).

Because special teams change from week to week because of injuries or roster transactions, I thought 4 games would give us a decent representation of the season and let us know which players on this roster are major contributors to Joe DeCamillis and his group and which players are just stop gaps.

So, I selected Week 1 (At Wash), Week 7 (Vs NYG), Week 11 (Vs Det), and Week 14 (Vs Phil). I did not want to use anything after the Philadelphia game because at that point injuries had taken quite a toll and would mislead us about who DeCamillis prefers and who he had to settle for at that juncture of the season.

Kickoff Coverage Units

In 2010, the Cowboys kickoff coverage unit rated 27th in the NFL, allowing 24.3 yards per return. They allowed 2 kickoff returns of over 50 yards, including a killer bust in coverage against the Titans that likely cost them the game. Here are the players who were on the kickoff coverage units in the 4 weeks where we tracked this closely.

Week 1Week 7Week 11Week 14
27-Owusu-Ansah27-Owusu Ansah37-McCann37-McCann
57-Butler57-Butler57-Butler59-B Williams
32-Scandrick32-Scandrick52-L Williams52-L Williams
34-Anderson59-B Williams20-Ball36-Sendejo

HTML Tables

Obviously, there are injuries to consider, but I find it very interesting that the Cowboys only had 3 players who were 4 for 4 in our study here. Sam Hurd, Danny McCray, and David Buehler. Other than that, they were continuing to shuffle the deck all season long to try to find the right mix. Barry Church and Jesse Holley were quickly declared regulars as well once the season got going.

Punt Coverage Units

Dallas had the 3rd best punt coverage unit in the NFL this season, with a coverage unit that only conceding 6.2 yards per return. The NFL average is 9.6 a return, and only the Bengals and Titans did better. The long punt return of the season that the Cowboys allowed was 16 yards - only the Jaguars have a better mark there (their long was 13 yards). Certainly, nothing to complain about with this group. Let's see who was on the field for Cowboys punts:

Week 1Week 7Week 11Week 14
57-Butler57-Butler57-Butler52 L-Williams
59-B Williams59-B Williams52-L Williams59-B Williams

HTML Tables

Perfect attendance again for Hurd, McCray, Sean Lee, LP Ladoucer, and Mat McBriar. Also, Holley and Church were added in the final 3 groups. The back-up LBs were rotated and the 3rd TE/FB position filled the rest of the group.

Tomorrow, we look close at who was on the return teams. By then, we will have a real good feel for who are vital special team contributors and who are not.

No comments: