One of better stories coming out of QDTC this spring will be the transformation of the Giants' return game from an uphill struggle to a downhill stampede.
Last season, without a healthy David Wilson, the kickoff return game went from 7th (26.2 YPR) in 2012 to 27th overall (21.2 YPR). Michael Cox led the Giants in returns with 20, his longest going for 56 yards.
The Giants' struggle on special teams this season has been well-noted, having given up four TDs on punt coverage. In the opening game against Dallas, the Giants held Cowboys' fleet PR Dwayne Harris to just 19 yards on two returns.
Giants' special teams coordinator Tom Quinn is aware that Harris is capable of beating his team with a long return, like he did earlier this season against Washington with an 86-yarder for a TD.
It's become understood that the Giants' punt coverage and return units are just out there to take up time and space. The punt teams have become a detriment to the overall objective to win ballgames. The Giants are at the point where they're satisfied when those units don't lose ballgames.
The punt coverage unit has allowed three attempts to be returned for touchdowns. They've also given up a fourth TD on a wild snap. The return team appears to be out there simply as a formality with ball security the priority. ?They seem to be relieved after Rueben Randle calls for a fair catch, abandons the punt to be downed by the opponent or a touchback. At least he didn't fumble.
The Giants have given up three punt returns for TDs this season and 408 yards on 20 returns, which is the most in the league. Their 20.4 yards-per-attempt is 31st overall. Only the Redskins are worse, with at 21.6.
The addition of Josh Brown has helped the Giants' kickoff coverage. He's only allowed only 9 of his 27 kicks to be returned. On the kicks that were returned, the average attempt went for 24.3 yards.
It wasn't too long ago that special teams coach Tom Quinn had his section of the team running like a top. Things have changed rapidly over the past year there, too.
The usually reliable punter, Steve Weatherford, is not kicking smartly. As a result, the team has surrendered two long returns for TDs in the first four games. Quinn is also finding out that his new placekicker, Josh Brown, is no Lawrence Tynes when it comes to automatic attempts inside the 40.
David Wilson led the NFL in kickoff return yardage last season. He's needed on offense, so rookie Michael Cox will be the primary returner. K Lawrence Tynes was one of the league's top scorers. In a move that stressed power over accuracy, the Giants replaced him with Josh Brown. Jayron Hosley and Jerrel Jernigan are best suited for punt returns, but due to ball security concerns, WR Rueben Randle will be fielding punts. ?Quinn spoke to the media today at Quest...
Do you find that some teams over-kick the players in camp?I don?t know.
For the first time in several years, the Giants are facing multiple changes on special teams. The constants they will carry into this season are the punter (Steve Weatherford) and the long snapper (Zak DeOssie). Weatherford also serves as the team's holder on PATs and FGs.
The openings lie at the kick and punt returner positions and at placekicker, where either Josh Brown or David Buehler will attempt to replace Lawrence Tynes.
The Meltdown at the Meadowlands against the Eagles in 2010 is a distant memory these days. They are covering kickoffs and punts better, making fewer mistakes not allowing a punt to be returned to the house since that fateful game. The Giants have not allowed a KO to be returned for a TD since 2007.
These days have an explosive returner of their own in rookie David Wilson, who has had numerous long KO returns including a 97-yarder several weeks ago vs the Saints.
Since then, they signed a professional punter in Steve Weatherford and their placekicker is setting team records. Even though Lawrence Tynes failed on what would have been a game-winning 54-yard FG last Sunday, he can't be held accountable for the miss. It was way out of his range...
The return game has been revitalized by rookie RB David Wilson, who has three kickoff returns of 40 or more yards. He is averaging 30.2 yards per attempt, the highest of any NFL player with 10 or more returns.
How?d you feel about your performance in Week 1?We did some good things, but not enough good things, not enough momentum-changing plays.? We had some opportunities.? I thought we could?ve gotten more out of the kickoff return right before the half, could?ve had a plus-10 down, could?ve had a tackle inside the 15, but we weren?t physical enough.? It was solid, but it wasn?t real good.
A lot could be blamed on the fact that their primary punt returner ? Domenik Hixon ? went down for the season with a knee injury after only two games. Hixon returned 3 punts in those two games for a total of 31 yards with a long of 18.
In Hixon?s absence, several players fielded punts: Victor Cruz, Antrel Rolle, Will Blackmon and Aaron Ross. None did anything of significance. Ross actually had only one more return (14) that he had fair catches (13).
Rookie CB Jayron Hosley has the potential to beat out Domenik Hixon and Jerrel Jernigan for the Giants' punt return duties this season. At Virginia Tech, Hosley averaged 12 yards per attempt and had TDs of 64 and 80 yards.
The Giants, for better or worse, had a very Giants-like draft. Jerry Reese and the rest of the draft-day decision makers selected seven players befitting of the team-first, no-nonsense Big Blue mold. Some of these players will be asked to fill immediate needs, make meaningful plays in meaningful game situations right away, while others can and will be excused should they not impact the Giants? season in any sort of visible, tangible way this season.
Tags: 2011 New York Giants, 2011 NFL Draft, Da'Rel Scott, Eli Manning, giants, Giants Defense, Giants News, Giants Offense, Giants Preseason, Giants Special Teams
The secondary struggled throughout most of the regular season, ranking 29th in pass yards per game allowed with 225.1. Luckily, Eli Manning made a habit of putting up those same numbers?often better?against opposing pass defenses.
Tags: 2011 New York Giants, Aaron Ross, Antrel Rolle, Corey Webster, Deon Grant, Giants-49ers, Giants Defense, Giants-Patriots, Giants Special Teams, Jerry Reese, New York Giants News, New York Giants Preseason, NFC, NFC Championship Game, NFC East, Perry Fewell, Prince Amukamara, Pro Bowl, Super Bowl XLVI, Terrell Thomas, Tyler Sash
Field position and turnovers are always the key to winning games in the NFL. So what happened to the New York Giants special teams?
To say they are bad would be an understatement. If you are a pint glass "half full" type of guy, then you would say the special teams are consistent. I hope that makes you feel better. One could also say that the special teams plays haven't hurt us so far in the 2011 season.
It is a shame that one of them has to go. Both have performed admirably this preseason. They have been going blow for blow each week, one upstaging the other and making the coaches' decision on who to keep and who to cut more difficult.
Last night, again, it was hard to say who was the better punter. Dodge punted three times for and average or 44 yards. Weatherford averaged 42 yards on two attempts. Both had punts land inside the 20. Dodge had a 53-yarder, but also recorded a touchback.
Last year, the Giants' special teams were a rag-tag bunch that ended up costing the team dearly. That was due to the pre-season injury to the units' everyman - Domenik Hixon - and the inconsistency of rookie punter Matt Dodge.
Those two faults have been resolved. Hixon is back and ready to roll. Dodge is in danger of being replaced by the steadier Steve Weatherford. In addition, the league voted to move up the kickoff line five yards, virtually eliminating the kickoff return as a threat. The Giants have always given up more big plays on special teams than they've made, so the club sees this rule change as one that favors them.
Tags: Giants News, Giants Special Teams, Giants Training Camp, New York Giants, New York Giants News, Tom Quinn
Kordell Stewart...I mean Jerrel Jernigan wider receiver from Troy.?? Really?
The Associated Press announced that the New York Giants have filled their need a wide receiver with standout Jerrel Jernigan.? Need?
Tags: 2011 New York Giants, Domenik Hixon, Eli Manning, Giants Special Teams, Hakeem Nicks, jerrel jernigan, Jerry Reese, Mario Manningham, NFC East, Plaxico Burress, Ramses Barden, Steve Smith, Troy University, Victor Cruz
[audio:http://snygiants.files.wordpress.com/2010/11/11-1-cb-will-blackmon.mp3|titles=11.1 CB Will Blackmon]
Special teams coach Tom Quinn was asked last week about what he would like to see from Dodge going forward...
...and why should we think he's an improvement over Darius Reynaud...?Because anyone would be an improvement, that's why. Darius Reynaud leads the league with 22 punt returns. He is averaging 5.9 yards per return.
That does not lead the league, by the way. Of all the punt returners in the NFL with 12 or more attempts, Reynaud is by far the least productive.
When the Vikings threw Reynaud in the Sage Rosefels deal, most Giant fans felt like they got a steal.? They got robbed, instead....
Tags: Giants Special Teams, New York City, New York Giants, New York Giants Blogs, New York Giants News, Will Blackmon
Q: How do you get the return stuff going? Coverage has improved:
A: Just have to keep pressing, keep working. The kickoff return has been a lot better than punt return. Punt return is not doing much of anything there. Have to keep working on it and hope we get one. Just keep doing what we're doing on kickoff return.
"The Giants brought in 11-year veteran punter Hunter Smith for a workout on Tuesday, Smith's agent, Tom Mills, confirmed. Mills said Smith believed he had a solid workout but left without signing a contract. Mills has yet to speak to the Giants about the workout but believes his client could be an option for the team moving forward...."
The Bears ran 27 plays in the first half. New York sacked Jay Cutler on nine of those plays. The Giants held Chicago to 22 total yards, minus 13 yards passing, and minus 1.2 yards per pass in the first half. Chicago was 0-for-7 on third-down attempts. And despite holding the ball for 16:08, the Giants' defense recorded two turnovers, limited?Chicago to two first downs,?got on a roll in the second quarter and knocked the ball out of Cutler's hands three times, and didn't allow the Bears to score.
The pressure they put on Cutler was remarkable, especially considering all the panic heading in when it was learned that Mathias Kiwanuka would miss the game with a neck injury. Osi Umenyiora and Justin Tuck, who finished the game with three sacks apiece, were all over the place all night, and provided much-needed leadership on a defensive unit that's still a work in progress. Jonathan Goff, Chris Canty, and Barry Cofield were there to help out throughout the night.
"He's electric. He's dangerous when he touches the ball, so you have to do your best to try and claw at it. You have to try and keep the ball out of his hands, and there is not a lot you can do. It was tough to do last time we played him, he touched it three times. We are prepared to get down there, cover, and tackle."
That is, if they decide to kick it to him.....
Tags: Giants-Bears, Giants Special Teams, New York Giants, New York Giants Blogs, New York Giants News, Tom Quinn
Sunday night, he bounced back with a steadier performance, averaging 45.2 yards on six attempts. Among those six punts was a 62-yard punt and one that pinned the Colts back at their own 2-yard line.
Ho no longer has either. Feagles retired after last season and Hixon's season was ended after he tore his knee up practicing in the new stadium.
Players have come in to assume those positions, but they are hardly filling the bill.
"We're in the process of being in transition in a lot of spots," said Tom Coughlin, "you could take each one of those spots in the special teams operation and they're all open to evaluation, but if you don't look at them in a game, well that's where the evaluation takes place, you chart everything at practice but you've got to put them in a game."
On kickoffs, backup RBs DJ Ware and Andre Brown will get reps Monday against the Jets as will UDFA Victor Cruz.
Tags: Giants Special Teams, Giants Training Camp, New York Giants, New York Giants Blogs, New York Giants News, New York Giants Preseason
Feagles' Retirement Forces ChangesRookie mini-camp was especially important to Giants' special teams coach Tom Quinn. He doesn't normally draw the attention of the media pool at Timex, but at this point in time, he has suddenly become a person of interest.
Punter Jeff Feagles announced his retirement last week, leaving the punting duties to the winner of a rookie standoff between 7th round draft-pick Matt Dodge and unproven Australian Jy Bond.
Feagles was also a the holder for PATs and FGs - a good one, too - and the Giants are uncertain who will fill that position.? In addition, Quinn is trying out new punt and kickoff returners as well a finding a placekicker to challenge the erratic Lawrence Tynes in training camp.