Special teams in focus
Posted on September 24, 2008
Filed Under Uncategorized
- Special teams — and the recent success of the Patriots’ kicking game — was one of the big topics this morning at Gillette Stadium. Coach Bill Belichick touched on it in his press conference, and several special teamers were asked about the secret to their recent success in the locker room. We got to talk to Heath Evans and Larry Izzo on the topic:
- Heath Evans
- Why was Ellis and the kick return team so successful last week? We work at it hard, like we do everything else. Obviously, some of those other things didn’t work out too well for us, but it was an emphasis for us, like it is every week. Ellis is a great returner, he’s probably the main key to that. He hits holes with great vision, and he knows the [returns]. And when you know where you’re supposed to hit things and the blocking assignments, it makes things easier on us to make those blocks for him. Most of the time, he just needs a little blink. He’s good. He’s very good.
- Other than the obvious tangible ability, what makes someone good on kick or punt coverage? I don’t know — I’m not very good at it. [laughter] Vision in this game is everything, whether you’re a quarterback or a DB or a kick returner. If you don’t have the vision, I don’t care how fast or how strong or how tough you are. Again, it’s about studying those returns and knowing when you’re supposed to hit and knowing the person that’s coming down the field and knowing the possibilities of what could happen. You have to be prepared before that ball is even kicked to say, ‘Hey, there’s a good percentage, a good chance that this is going to happen. This possibly could happen.’ It’s all preparation.
- It’s the same for the returner and the blockers? You have to know your personnel, who you’re blocking. Fast guy, slow guy, physical guy, guy that wants to run around you. There’s all kinds of different things. At the end of the day, it’s a man on man blocking scheme, and Ellis does a great job of finding daylight.
- Larry Izzo
- Other than the obvious tangible ability, what makes someone good on kick or punt coverage? There’s a lot of things. Number one, like any good football player, you have to be physically capable of going out there and getting down the field, whether it’s a big strong guy or a little fast guy. You have to have the physical tools. Number two, you have to have the ‘want-to.’ You have to want to be out there, and take pride in your role and be a professional about things and treat it as a job. And three, just understanding schemes, which Brad [Seely] does a good job each week with us on. Understanding what our opponents are trying to do and how we can best approach that and counter that. It’s a combination of a lot of things: toughness, and being a good overall football player. That’s what makes a good special teams player.