Cowboys' special teams issues continue
OCT 18, 2012 10:24a ET
Jones tied the NFL record for longest kickoff return when he opted to bring out a kick 8 yards deep in his own endzone.
It is altogether disconcerting that the special teams portion of the Cowboys this season has been such a mess from a standpoint of playing major roles in 2 of the 3 losses. This early in the season, that is way too high a number, but this is what we talk about every August. In fact, in only 5 games, t he Cowboys have replaced or moved 6 of the 11 players on their kickoff coverage team. That is a lot of movement. Now, these moves may be related to injuries or roster changes, but the fact that they ran this kickoff like they had very little continuity might lead back to the fact that the units never stay the same.
All around the league, this is an epidemic. I have focused on this in the past in plenty of essays, but the New York Times tackled it too, this week, and you might want to read that. It is being ignored in the media quite a bit, but the fact is that in today's NFL with a small roster and salary caps, the special teams are being put together with the leftovers at the end of the roster - whether they are good at special teams or not. And, because of the minimum salaries of veterans being so much higher than that of rookies, you seldom see anything but rookies and 1st-contract guys on your teams.
Then, they make a mistake that costs you the game and the first thing everyone wants to do is fire the special teams coach. It is a thankless job and while Joe DeCamillis is not blameless, to put it at his feet when the GM of this squad allows very little for him to work with is being short-sighted.
Regardless of that, under DeCamillis since 2009, the special teams have had 6 occasions where the special teams have conceded a touchdown. The team has lost 5 of those games, which, in the NFL is a theme that is often enough to get a special teams coach fired.
Bruce Read lasted 2 seasons (2007-2008) and had 4 such plays before he was fired. His predecessor, Bruce DeHaven's special teams (2003-2006) had 4 years of service and just 1 special teams touchdown catastrophe ( Rock Cartwright's kickoff return for Washington in 2006). Bill Parcells made special teams an emphasis and in 4 seasons, they almost never had a single issue. The late, great Joe Avezzano, who handled some great special teams units from 1990-2002, saw his squad's special teams concede 4 blocked punts in his final 2 seasons leading to his replacement by DeHaven when Parcells was hired.
Special Teams are an afterthought until they are not. And they are not when you lose a game or two because they have betrayed you.
Here, we breakdown the play that likely won Baltimore the game.