Special Teams MUST Be Special

Posted: January 23, 2012 in NFL
Tags: , ,

Players and coaches are brainwashed to use the term “offense, defense and special teams” as if all three are equal parts in football. Few, if any, believe it. Check out players’ salaries as one example of proof. If a kicker, punter or returner is drafted high it makes news. Many special team studs aren’t drafted at all.

 

It’s long past time to start believing. Special teams determine an incredible number of games. Add Sunday’s NFL conference championships to the list.

New England survived the Baltimore Ravens because Billy Cundiff couldn’t hit a 32-yard field goal.

The New York Giants beats the San Fran 49ers because punt returner Kyle Williams, filling in for the injured Ted Ginn, fumbled twice. The last time came in overtime and step up the winning points, naturally, a field goal.

I’m not suggesting placekickers and punters should be paid like quarterbacks. I’m not saying kick returners ought to be drafted in the first round. I am saying when players and coaches talk about “offense, defense and special teams” being equal parts they should take themselves seriously.

A total of 80 points were scored in the two championship games. 40 percent of the points were scored by special teams. The word “specialist” shouldn’t be spoken as if it’s an afterthought. Jokes about kickers “not being real football players” need to stop. This isn’t your granddad’s type of football. You don’t wait for a placekicker or punter to just show up and ask for a job.

And that, of course, brings up another point, one that makes traditionalists stand up and cheer. Offense is more exciting and sells tickets and attracts TV viewers, but defense, along with special teams, win championships. The 2011 NFL season was a year of a record number of points being scored and yards gained, but defense (and special teams) is the reason the Giants and Patriots will play in Super Bowl XLVI.

So who wins the Super Bowl in two weeks in Indianapolis? Not the quarterback who throws for the most yards. Not the running back who gains the most yards. It will be the defense that plays the best and the special teams that are truly special.

 

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