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Patriots Off-season review (Pre-Draft Edition) - Special Teams

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by DaBruinz, Apr 23, 2006.

  1. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Special Teams:

    Kicker – Martin Gramatica - It pains me to say this but Adam Vinatieri is gone. While he was the most clutch kicker in the NFL for the Pats during our 3 SB runs, he wasn’t without his misses or his problems. He missed 2 FGs during SB38 that nearly cost the Pats the game. He also missed a major FG against Denver that cost the Pats momentum and arguably, the game. His Kick-offs have been going down as well. Going to Indy will prolong Adam’s career, but, in the end, I think it will cost him the HOF because the HOF committee will see that he went to the dome.

    That being said, I believe that, if healthy, Gramatica gives us a kicker who is extremely good on kick-offs and is only 1 step below Adam on field goals. Again, that is IF HE IS HEALTHY. I feel the Pats will bring in at least one other kicker, if not 2. I know I was against Connor Hughes before, but I did some more research and like the kid. Josh Huston has a great leg, but has very limited experience kicking. Steve Gostkowski also has a strong leg, but is somewhat erratic on his FGs.

    Punter – Josh Miller - Was in the top 5 for Punt AVG, but the coverage teams let him down on the net. The Pats will probably bring in a young player again to help alleviate some of the work for Miller during the pre-season.

    Long-Snapper - Lonnie Paxton, John Condo – Paxton is very solid player. Has only had one muffed snap (that I can remember anyways) in his years in with the Pats. Condo was brought in to help only during training camp. However, there are several players in the draft who could also do long-snapping duties. Players such as Jon Scott and, I believe, David Thomas.
  2. arrellbee

    arrellbee Rookie

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    Very good analysis. Thanks.
  3. R_T26

    R_T26 Banned

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    I must say i dont like Gramatica at all and dont think he will be our kicker by the start of the year. But I love the signings of Mitchell and Tebuckey to help our special teams. Fast hard hitters who may block a field goal or two, and provide some big hits and potential turnovers. i'll be honest im not that sad to see Chatham go, he seemed to take bad penalties at the worst times on ST.
  4. Jimke

    Jimke Rookie

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    In comparing Adam and Martin, the health issue should be of great concern.

    Martin completed about 82 percent of his kicks from 1999 to 2002. In

    2003 and 2004, his average dropped to about 60 percent.

    I would be disappointed if the Pats don't draft a kicker and also sign

    another free agent to cover their butts.
  5. jczxohn1

    jczxohn1 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This all you got?
  6. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I guess you missed the Offense and Defense sections also, jczxohn.
  7. BelichickFan

    BelichickFan B.O. = Fugazi PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #24 Jersey

    I think it's a virtual certainty that they'll bring in at least one more legitimate competitive kicker. Probably two.
  8. jczxohn1

    jczxohn1 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Talking about an off-season review of ST and just mentioning the Kicker, punter and long-snapper seems inadequate.

    How is it we have had Automatic Adam, one of the five best punters in the league, and a long-snapper who's only had one muff in his pro career not to mention a ST coach widely recognized as top-notch, and still had a below average special teams unit in 2004 and a mediocre one last year?
    Last edited: Apr 23, 2006
  9. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan On the Roster

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    I think the coverage units were populated with aging LB types who lost a step or three. It appears that BB is replacing them with faster and younger safety types. Its a shame that they could not resign Mike Stone but he wants a chance to start and I predict he won't find it elsewhere.

    Meanwhile no one has discussed the skill position returners at KOR and PR. Each has a different talent requirement. KOR need speed and burst. PR need elusiveness to make a guy miss to get past the first wave. BJ who is a very good KOR, was hurting last season and the replacements were simply not as good at KOR.

    Dwight did an adequate but not spectacular job at PR, but he is now gone. There is an opening on the roster for such a candidate. Thats' why I like Mo Drew from UCLA to be drafted on day 1 as a KF understudy; or Jeremy Bloom with a 6 or 7 on day 2 as a pure PR.
  10. jczxohn1

    jczxohn1 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I like Drew as well, I don't think CD's replacement is in the cards this yr. For PR, I like Skyler Green from LSU, who could also compete at WR. Agree about the loss of Stone. Maybe the kid from Fresno who was IR'd will step up.

    One problem we had was ST penalties. In '04 Chatham and Davis were the worst offenders, but Davis did improve last yr, while Chatham did not. He'll be Mangini's problem now. When two of your ST leaders are also penalty leaders, you're going to have problems.
  11. MoLewisrocks

    MoLewisrocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    You had me nodding with the offense and defense analysis. Then you missed the boat by a mile on special teams. Coverage and return units have been a greater concern than the kicking game - at least since Miller took over as the punter.

    BB does seem to be focusing substantial attention on upgrading coverage units. Hopefully the draft will include some multi-dimentional talent at WR or RB capable of returning kicks.Can't see BB drafting or carrying a dedicated KR, or more than one PK though.

    I'd also expect Gramatica to have had substantially better career KO numbers than Adam to be dubbed better - after all he's done the lions share of his work in Tampa or in a dome - but were they measurably "better" or worse? His career average KO distance is just .5 yards better (including seasons when each had some problems). Adam's numbers are dramatically better when he kicks in those conditions. Lucky for us Adam had the stones to kick through his issues and the weather, especially when it counted, and the brains to get his problems fixed. Still can't imagine Gruden parted with a kicker dubbed Automatica without figuring out what the problem was - or maybe he did. I guess we'll find out soon enough.
  12. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Hmmm.. I wouldn't say that the Pats Special teams was below average in 2004. They were mediocre then and mediocre again in 2005.

    There wasn't much of a change in personnel from 2004 to 2005 there either.

    As for the other positions, I included them in the offense and defense stuff. Sorry that you feel its inadequate. That's just your opinion.
  13. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Last I looked, 62.9 to 63.9 was a full yard. But I also know that Gramatica's kick-off numbers were hurt, significantly, because of his injury. If you review Gramatica's numbers, he was averaging 64.4 ypk prior to his injury. After his injury, Gramatica averaged 62.6 ypk.

    http://snap.stats.com/stats/nflinfo/playerstats.asp?id=4730&Submit=Go


    As for missing the boat on the special teams, it was a positional analysis, not an team analysis . Looks like you missed the boat on understanding that.

    And, from your reply, you didn't seem to offer much else. Would you care to offer up all the different special teams positions and the players currently at that position and the needs that need to be filled?
  14. MoLewisrocks

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    I tend to rely on NFL.com for my stats. They have Gramatica's career average at 62.9 and AV's at 62.4. Gramatica's before and after stats there don't jive with the ones you cited either.

    And again, you choose dwell on Gramatica's before and after stats, and accept at face value his explanation for his demise, but choose to ignore the fact that these stats aren't in any way stadium adjusted like with baseball so you're left comparing apples and oranges. I choose to look at the raw numbers in context, including where these guys did their kicking. And take unsubstantiated medical self assessment performance excuses, like in Starks case, with a big grain of salt. Gramatica had hernia surgery after the 2002 season (when he appeared to be fine according to the stats). If he was indeed misdiagnosed I would expect some fallout over a derailed career while under the care of the Bucs physicians. Of course I also would have expected them to leave no diagnostic stone unturned rather than take than $2M dead cap hit for cutting a former pro bowl PK 2 years into his big new deal. But maybe that's just the skeptic in me.

    Adam was pretty impressive last year in Florida - he averaged 68.3 ypk in the venue where Mare averages 66.4. Warm weather, thin air or domes seem to add 5-7 ypk to AV's KO average even in his dotage. Go figure...

    And I believe I did indicate that some of the recent FA additions should help the coverage units performance, and my hope that BB will make a draft selection or two of offensive players with the capacity to perform on offense and as ST returners - because I don't think he allocates a roster spot to a kick returner who can't fill another need. And I'd hate to see Hobbs get injured returning kicks.

    As for a more detailed assessment, I'm not the one who undertook my own pre draft edition off season review thread. Just chiming in because you decided you would. Maybe you shouldn't have though if the expression of alternate viewpoints is going to get your shorts in a bunch (per usual). :D

    http://www.nfl.com/players/playerpage/133297

    http://www.nfl.com/players/playerpage/1392
  15. DaBruinz

    DaBruinz Pats, B's, Sox PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Alternate viewpoints is all fine and dandy, but generally people actually offer one up. Having read the other two, as you said you did, you'd see that this one followed the same positional format and NOT UNIT format. The only person who seems to have his panties in a wad is you. Otherwise, you wouldn't have been so anal in your first reply. But I expect that from you, Mo. :D

    Now, about Gramatica, your information isn't 100% correct. You are right that Gramatica had hernia surgery. However, that didn't occur until 2003. He continued to have problems and, until he was properly diagnosed in 2005, thought that it was the hernia all over again. The impression I got was that the 2003 hernia surgery corrected one problem, but missed 2 others, the lower adductor and lower abdomen tears.

    http://sports.espn.go.com/nfl/news/story?id=2096375

    I do take into consideration that Gramatica spends 8 games a year kicking in Tampa. However, I also know that Tampa can get to the freezing temperature in December. I also know that Gramatica has had to kick at Soldier Field and Lambeau more than a few times.

    Now, what I find somewhat dumbfounding, is your ignoring my saying IF HEALTHY about Gramatica. That remains to be seen. If he's healthy, I'd be willing to bet he's only a half step behind Adam on FGs and that he's better than Adam on kick-offs. But that's if he is HEALTHY.
    Last edited: Apr 24, 2006

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