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New Role: the Fair Catch Specialist

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by rookBoston, Dec 17, 2007.

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  1. rookBoston

    rookBoston 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Anyone else pick up on the fact that BB will situationally choose NOT to return a punt? And when he decides to play it safe he takes Welker out and puts Faulk in.

    Faulk's job? Secure the possession and give the ball to Brady and Co.

    Against the Jets, the commentators mentioned that Faulk has returned 9 punts this year, and all of them fair catch. That's one of those factoids that struck me as "not a mistake". BB talks about situational football, and he is precisely the kind of guy who would have a specialist to return punts and another specialist to fair catch punts.

    Obsessive? Maybe. Brilliant, too.
     
  2. BlitzFritz

    BlitzFritz Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    yeah its smart, i noticed that early on in the season.

    its also a way to keep both guys rotating in, so that if someone gets injured, you still have another guy.

    and sometimes faulk runs em back, dont forget
    :cool:
     
  3. ShrewBeer

    ShrewBeer Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    makes perfect sense to put the guy who has the best hands in to catch. pretty nice obscure stat
     
  4. Mack Herron

    Mack Herron In the Starting Line-Up

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    He did that last year with Troy Brown.
     
  5. rookBoston

    rookBoston 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    um... no, he hasn't. Not this season, at least. That's my point. Faulk is 9 for 9 on punt returns and he's taken a fair catch EVERY SINGLE TIME. He has not run back the kick, ever, all season. He's the equivalent of the "good hands" team for punt return.

    If you're a defending team, if you see KF out there to receive, expect that there will be no run back. If anything, the Pats are trying to block the punt... but definately they wont be looking to return. And it makes sense. Against the Jets, with the bad weather, it's a challenge just to get possession back, cleanly. The priority isn't on getting return yards, it's just to take the ball back.

    And if we're looking to return the ball, we'd play Welker, not Faulk. Right? That's the magic. Who has a different return guy depending on whether we're looking to block or return the punt?
     
  6. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    You make a persuasive point that Faulk is sent in when BB expects the punt to be fair caught.

    But if something funky happens -- e.g., the gunners are blocked really well -- obviously Faulk WOULD run it back in such a situation.

    That said -- if they're expecting to fair catch anyway, the Pats are more likely to try to block the kick than they are to set up a return, so the chance of a surprise like that may be pretty low.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2007
  7. rookBoston

    rookBoston 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    There isn't much of a surprise value, in any case. If you play the gunners with a double team, that usually means you're looking to return the ball. If you've got the gunners 1 on 1, that usually means you're trying to block the kick with extra guys in the pass rush. Either way, generally the kicking team understands your intent pre-snap. Having Faulk or Welker out there isn't much of a give-away-- the formation usually gives it away, regardless.

    And, actually, the way BB thinks, I think even if Faulk is totally open for a return, he would STILL take the fair catch. Because that's what he was TOLD TO DO. The coaches coach and players play. And Belichick runs a Despotism under Martial Law, not a benevolent Monarchy. Even if the oceans part and the endzone is completely undefended, I think KF still takes the fair catch. That's his role.

    It's the same when BB tells the punter to kick the ball out of bounds, or the long snapper to send it through the endzone for the safety. He's playing situational football, and all he values is that the team does what he thinks needs to be done.

    Here's the rationale: What is the biggest risk to losing to a team like the Jets? Turnovers. That's the only way we lose. Muffed punt could cost the game. The only reason the game was as close as it was was because of the blocked punt for a TD. Without that, it would have been a 20-3 win.

    As a coach, if you make sure the teams are forced to drive up and down the field in their regular D and O, the Pats win the Jets game 99 times out of 100 times. So, when you're returning a punt in the freezing rain against a less talented team, why take chances for a fumble just to get 10 or 20 more yards? Take the fair catch, take possession and give the ball to Brady to drive the field. He can get 15 yards in a single play. Taking a fair catch is just risk mitigation, and playing to win.
     
    Last edited: Dec 17, 2007
  8. GinoCappelletti

    GinoCappelletti On the Roster

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    Only problem I see with this theory is that I don't neccescarily think Faulk's hands are all that much better than Welker's, if they are at all.
     
  9. RayClay

    RayClay Pro Bowl Player

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    That would lead me to believe it's coincidence.

    Faulk's done a fantastic job this year, but it's only been about six games since I stopped worrying about him fumbling.

    He always uses two hands up the middle and I commend him.
     
  10. RayClay

    RayClay Pro Bowl Player

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    That would lead me to believe it's coincidence.

    Faulk's done a fantastic job this year, but it's only been about six games since I stopped worrying about him fumbling.

    He always uses two hands up the middle and I commend him.

    Maybe Welker's reckless, though.
     
  11. Batman

    Batman Third String But Playing on Special Teams

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    I think you have hit the nail on the head I think he see faulk as the guy who will just do what is wanted and not take the risk. he might feel that welker might try and act as the punt returner he was in college and want to got to the house. BB won't see that as tactical as it keeps his older defense out longer unless they force a 3 and out.
     
  12. Fencer

    Fencer Veteran Starter w/Big Long Term Deal

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    You missed my point a bit. I didn't mean surprise as in the Pats shocking the opposition. I meant surprise as in an unblocked gunner slipping and falling and leaving an obvious return lane open.

    In such a case, I am confident Faulk or any other returner would have discretion to in fact return the punt.
     
  13. rookBoston

    rookBoston 2nd Team Getting Their First Start

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    Well, we have little basis to evaluate "good hands" based on game play alone. Both Faulk and Welker have proven themselves in the past.

    But BB has the benefit of seeing them field punts over and over and over again in TC and practice. In the end, it's a question of trust that the player will execute reliably, and I could see BB investing Faulk with a level of trust which is the product of many years of first hand experience.

    Let's watch and see what happens in the balance of the year, when Faulk is back to receive.
     
    Last edited: Dec 18, 2007
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