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ST rebuilding assessment

Discussion in 'PatsFans.com - Patriots Fan Forum' started by AzPatsFan, Dec 21, 2006.

  1. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan On the Roster

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    Everyone talks about rebuilding the LB corps.

    But a major effort facing Belichick last off season was ALSO rebuilding the Special Teams from top to bottom. Only the long snapper had any upside. Both specialist kickers were getting very long in the tooth. Coverage teams stunk.

    The coverage teams were slowing down, as the top ST tacklers declined. Cherry is gone, Davis and especially Izzo were visibly slowing down. A couple of good ST players walked (Adam Vinatieri, Matt Chatham) and others got promoted to regular playing status, TBC, Wright etc limiting their availability. The returners were aging, Dwight wasn't anywhere near his youthful self, Troy Brown had lost some PR quickness. Pass was injured and BJ was traded.

    After fourteen games we can inspect the rebuilding effort.

    The ST coverage units are now in the top half dozen of the League.

    The KO returners have a TD and lead the AFC and most of League next to the incomparable Devin Hester of the Bears. Kevin Faulk has had a rebirth as a PR which with his elusiveness is where he should have been all along. Gostkowski has been worth the 4th round pick as a kicker with a booming KO ability (3rd in the league) and solid FG ability and 80% conversion rate including 50+ yard ability.

    Mel Mitchell and Tebuckey Jones & Barry Gardner were brought in as established ST players to take Davis and Izzo's jobs.. The all ended up on IR but the groundwork for 2007 is already established, and a generation younger.

    Only Punter had not been addressed. Miller was rolling along and then started to lose it. On to IR and Walther returns only to go on IR, after losing the Miami game for field position emphatically. Now we are auditioning two rookie punters, both Ray Guy semifinalists. Maybe they will have found their future Punter, maybe they will have to to look elsewhere, or use a 5th -7th pick to get one in the 2007 draft. But...

    The Special Teams have been rebuilt from top to bottom into a championship caliber ST outfit, with but a piece or two to yet fit into the puzzle.:D :D

    Comments anyone?
  2. cstjohn17

    cstjohn17 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    #54 Jersey

    I am glad guys like Mays, Woods, Alexander, Andrews, TBC even Kight have seen an expanded role on ST. The coverage units have been overrated for years, I am sure Izzo and Davis are great guys but next year I would rather see their spots go to ILB with some special teams ability and more important the ability to actually play defense in case of a pinch. Any time I see Izzo lined up a ILB I just cringe.

    I like the direction the ST are heading, Hobbs, Maroney and Faulk display above average return ability and some young players have contributed on coverage.

    Next year I project that Mitchell will be the primary ST contributor (ala Izzo) and at least one LB is brought in via the draft (rounds 3-5). Any rookie LB will cut ther teeth on ST and then hopefully take over for Bruschi when he retires.

  3. BelizePats

    BelizePats Rookie

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    Good analysis. kick returns and coverage are vastly improved while the Ghost will be good for a longf time. I liked Miller and am not sure what happened there. Walters was depressing. We get this piece of gthe puzzle and we're in great shape long term.
    St has been a major upgrade.
  4. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Last time I saw a stat on Special Teams tackles, Willie Andrews was the Pats leader. Rebuilding from last season is one perspective, but I find the level they are playing at this season despite all the injuries forcing Seeley to juggle his rosters, to be the more telling accomplishment on Special Teams - Mitchell, Jones, Gardner, Davis, Gay, Miller, Pass, Wilson are all regular Special Teams players who have gone on IR. Harrison, Alexander, Baker, Maroney, Faulk, Watson, Hobbs, Wright, & Seymour are all regular Special Teams players on the injury report. Forget the annual rebuild - the weekly rebuild is really special.
  5. psychoPat

    psychoPat Role Player PatsFans.com Supporter

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    In his masterpiece of a thread on statistical comparison of the 2006 team against the '03 and '04 editions,
    Pats1 wrote:


    Finally, special teams.

    Real interesting stats here. 2004, while the top in gross punt average, was the worst in the rest of the categories - it being the only year with Josh Miller all the way through. 2003, Walter and Barnard and all, wasn't all that bad, especially holding opponents on returns.Also notice how Gostkowski is an UPGRADE over Vinatieri in the statistical categories included.

    By no surprise, 2006 again takes the cake:

    2006 Special Teams:

    Punted touchbacks: 14th (most)
    Punted inside 20: 24th (most)
    Punted net average: 25th (best)
    Punted gross average: 29th (best)
    Punt return average: 5th (best)
    Opposing punt return average: 16th (best)

    Kickoff average: 4th (best)
    Touchbacks: 6th (most)
    Kick return average: 1st (best)
    Opposing kick return average: 22nd (best)

    2004 Special Teams:

    Punted touchbacks: 25th (most)
    Punted inside 20: 25th (most)
    Punted net average: 31th (best)
    Punted gross average: 17th (best)
    Punt return average: 29th (best)
    Opposing punt return average: 28th (best)

    Kickoff average: 13th (best)
    Touchbacks: 14th (most)
    Kick return average: 9th (best)
    Opposing kick return average: 28th (best)

    2003 Special Teams:

    Punted touchbacks: 24th (most)
    Punted inside 20: 3rd (most)
    Punted net average: 28th (best)
    Punted gross average: 31st (best)
    Punt return average: 17th (best)
    Opposing punt return average: 2nd (best)

    Kickoff average: 9th (best)
    Touchbacks: 26th (most)
    Kick return average: 4th (best)
    Opposing kick return average: 13th (best)

    ...

    Rankings:

    Best to worst by rankings:

    Punted touchbacks: 2006, 2003, 2004
    Punted inside 20: 2003, 2006, 2004
    Punted net average: 2006, 2003, 2004
    Punted gross average: 2004, 2006, 2003
    Punt return average: 2006, 2003, 2004
    Opposing punt return average: 2003, 2006, 2004

    Kickoff average: 2006, 2003, 2004
    Touchbacks: 2006, 2003, 2004
    Kick return average: 2006, 2003, 2004
    Opposing kick return average: 2003, 2006, 2004


    2006: 6 first place, 4 second place, 0 third place
    2004: 1 first place, 0 second place, 9 third place
    2003: 3 first place, 6 second place, 1 third place

    The 2006 special teams is better than that of the 2003 and 2004 Super Bowl winning teams.
  6. PonyExpress

    PonyExpress Rookie

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    Footballoutsiders ranks the Pats' special teams in the top 5 overall, and the return game #1 in the NFL.
  7. Box_O_Rocks

    Box_O_Rocks PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    There, I understood this much better than pats1's tome. :D
  8. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Even simple minds can comprehend it. :D
  9. pencilneckgeek

    pencilneckgeek Rookie

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    No Jersey Selected

    FWIW (i.e., not much), punting touchbacks aren't really a stat from which to infer quality.
  10. jczxohn1

    jczxohn1 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    I was disturbed by ST penalties in 2004 and did an analysis of them. This year and 2005 have shown a great deal of improvement.
  11. njpatsfan

    njpatsfan Rookie

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    Most definitely, Seeley has been Scarnecchia-like this year. It really is amazing when you look at that injury list.

    R
  12. captain stone

    captain stone Rookie

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    Cue Handel's "Hallelujah Chorus", please.
  13. captain stone

    captain stone Rookie

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    Quite the opposite, in fact.

    I've always felt that the 20 yards from a touchback should be subtracted from Gross Average, instead of from Net Average. (Are punt returns subtracted from Net Average?)

    Finally, two words of advice for our Punters: Coffin Corner.
  14. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    This is a major turnaround.

    And now, we have improved at punter. As Box indicated, the top addition has been Andrews, a really solid draft success. Also, the blocking on the return game has been much better. Faulk personcally isn't better and more elusive than in the past; his blocking is much better.

    BTW, then starting psot mentioned Cherry; he's been gone for years. If we mention Cherry, surely we should mention Wigham.

  15. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan On the Roster

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    I thought Cherry didn't make it out of TC in 2005; that was ONLY last season. Whigham has been gone for a decade. Time sure flies.

    Faulk had always been used as a Kick Off returner before this year. Perhaps because they had Brown or because they thought he would have a better chance to catch and put the ball away before getting touched, fearing a fumble.

    It seems to me there is a genuine difference in the talent needed for a PR or a KO returner. KO returners need speed and the ability to make one cut. Then they need the jets to accelerate through the hole, into the clear.

    PR returners need elusiveness much more than speed. They need the ability start forward, to juke, and make the first guy miss; and maybe a few more to miss too, before breaking free. Troy never had great speed; nor does Kevin. But both have elusiveness. Both are good Punt returners. Neihter has been a great KO returner though.

    Faulk's whole game as a RB is based on being the classic shifty-hipped, elusive halfback, unlike a power back guy like Corey Dillon.

    I always thought he was misused as a KO returner. Now they apparently have enough confidence in his hands to let him PR; and he is near a league leader in that elusive mission. A case of square pegs in square holes.

    Sauerbrun could complete the final question on STs, if he has his head on straight and has not lost his athletic ability.

    You and Box are correct; Willie Andrews was drafted primarily as a ST returner and player. Another unacknowledged 7th round draft success.:)
  16. pats1

    pats1 Moderator PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Cherry was a free agent after XXXIX and has been out of football since. Never was in 2005 camp.

    Whigham was last with the Patriots in 2000. He has been out of football since 2002.
  17. AzPatsFan

    AzPatsFan On the Roster

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    The best ST addition was Steve Gostkowski, by far. Andrews was a good add as well, but not anywhere in the same category of importance.
  18. mgteich

    mgteich PatsFans.com Veteran PatsFans.com Supporter

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    Gost's contribution is visible to all. Andrews is less visible. I think that may be our best Ster. He is a gunner and a ST tackler.

  19. jczxohn1

    jczxohn1 PatsFans.com Supporter PatsFans.com Supporter

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    No longer have the thread of my breakdown of 2004 ST. It was lost in the site meltdown last year. IIRC some of the main points were --
    -Many holding penalties - the main culprits were Chatham and Davis. Davis has cleaned up his act considerably. Chatham didn't and is no longer here.
    -Troy was the only PR to have a return of over 11yds. (twice) He was injured mid season and Faulk filled in 4-6 wks.
    -Faulk's PR average was poor (6 yds or so)
    -BJ did a decent job on KR, 23+ yd avg. Had one touchdown called back due to a penalty.
    Conclusion--
    Kevin has improved his PR game a great deal this year. Penalties are much better. New gunners are doing well and I've noticed Izzo is seldom making first contact. Not a bad thing, IMO, he's still effective at damage control when the gunners miss.

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