Yesterday, I wrote a long piece breaking down Matt Cassel that seemed to be of interest to a large percentage of our audience. QB talk always interests a very large group of football fans so I enjoyed writing that and getting all of your feedback.
Today, though, I am going to try something completely different.
You see, I am a great lover of the NFL game. I love the game day discussions that go all the way to the last man on the bench. 46 man rosters on Sunday. 7 inactive players. Who are those players and what is the team trying to tell us?
Injuries. Signees. Every Sunday, the pieces are moving to try to figure out who is doing what.
Surely, you know that the Average NFL team has about 65 snaps a game on offense and defense to account for. But, you might not realize there are 30 more plays a game where the team has to perform at a top level. Special teams.
30 plays a game! It is true. I have written about this several other times if you would like to catch up.
But, today, in this bye week, I wanted to give you an update on how Rich Bisaccia is using his special teams pieces. During this time, I like to take roll call to see who is where.
If you look at this, perhaps when you are watching a game, you will know who is making the big play on special teams.
First, Kickoff cover.
According to the NFL stats, the Cowboys rank 24th in the league on covering kicks, allowing 26 yards a return. What they don't tell you is that the Cowboys have only faced 3 kick returns this year because of all of the touchbacks. That means only 1 team has allowed fewer total yards on kick returns than the Cowboys 78. They don't get tested much, but here is a chart for who plays where on the kick coverage.
Special Teams - Kickoff Cover
You are likely going to want this roster if you don't have everyone's jersey numbers memorized.
Now, punt coverage. The Cowboys are right at league average on both total yards and average yards per punt return. Here is that group that has pretty much stayed the same all year.
Special Teams - Punt Cover
Now, this is where the Cowboys need to be better. The kick return unit has not been good, and I assume losing Lance Dunbar won't help. That said, they weren't getting much done with him out there and his injury did occur on an ill-advised kick return.
The Cowboys have very poor starting field position, and kick returns help determine that to some extent. 23.4 is the league average and you get 20 yards by not even trying. So, the fact that the Cowboys are 21.6 is splitting the difference between average and not trying. This group could stand for some improvement.
Special Teams - Kickoff Return
In fact, they rank 31st in the league with 3.5 yards a return - this in a league where the average punt return is 9.5 yards. So 31st in average and 31st in total return yards from this group.
However, they did block a punt in Philadelphia (and ran it in for a TD) that might have won the game, so all is not lost from this group.
Special Teams - Punt Return
Often, at the end of a piece I write, people want a nice conclusion. This one is more of a reference piece that you might want to bookmark for when you are enjoying games.
For me, I use it to see who is being used heavily without being all over the boxscore. These are vital moments in every game. Ask the Colts or Michigan or the Longhorns about whether special teams can make or break a game or a season for you.
Also, if a team uses 15 or so players on offense and 15 or so on defense, you can see how the team chooses the rest of the game day roster. A kicker, a backup QB, a punter, and a long snapper grab 4 spots. So, the other 12 go to these numbers listed above. These are your special teams guys:
Jeff Heath, Danny McCray, Damien Wilson, Tyler Patmon, Corey White, Andrew Gachkar, Kyle Wilber, and then the guys who never get to rest - the safeties Barry Church and JJ Wilcox.
Anyway, I normally put all of this in a notebook, but I thought somebody might enjoy knowing all of this football game-day minutia.