The Electric Commentary

Tuesday, December 21, 2004

The Philosophy of Football, 101, Part 3

Read part 1 here, and part 2 here.

#1 Special Teams Priority: Field Position

More NFL teams should keep three kickers on the roster. It would be nice if every place-kicker had the leg strength to kick off, but they don’t. Let’s use a golf analogy. Say your kicker is “Cory Pavin,” renowned for his short game, but weak on his drives. If Cory Pavin could have John Daley hit all of his drives would he do it? Of course he would. It makes no sense to have one guy do both jobs unless he is skilled at both jobs. Yes, it costs a roster spot to keep an extra kicker, but let me ask you this: Would you attempt to save a spot by keeping a WR/DB (other than Troy Brown) or an OT/DT?

A strong punter and kick-off specialist are essential because they provide your offense with free yardage. If your kicker kicks every ball into the end zone, your defense will not surrender as many points as if he kicks every ball to the ten or fifteen-yard line. Moreover, when the defense makes a stop, the offense will have better field position as a result. Punting should create similar benefits, and having a good pooch punter is also crucial.

The bottom line is that good special teams will get you easy yards. Bad special teams will put your skill players in bad situations and will prevent your team from realizing their full value. Having a good punter and place kicker is essential.

An adequate coverage team is a nice bonus, however it is difficult to economize in coverage because 11 players are involved (including the kicker/punter). There is no practical way to attract an above average coverage team without skimping on important offensive and defensive positions. In this respect, a given team must draft well and coach well in special teams coverage.

On the other hand the kicking position and punting position can be exploited because each is composed of a single player. If a team's coverage unit allows an average of 7 yards per punt return, it is much more cost effective to invest in a punter who can kick 5 yards further vs. signing the necessary players to make up the five yards in coverage.

I do not mean to understate the importance of a good coverage squad (or a good return squad), I am merely stating that it is easier, with regard to special teams, to invest in one player v. ten players.

Follow these steps and you will create a dominant, cost effective football team.

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