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 not returned a punt for a TD since Dec 16, 2009 when Domenik Hixon took one 79 yards to the house vs Dallas. They haven't blocked a punt since 2005, and that was by David Tyree.
With a half a season to play, special teams coordinator Tom Quinn has his work cut out for him. But he just might tune things around. In the first half, he had little to choose from personnel-wise because of the roster makeup. Special teams are usually spearheaded by linebackers. For a stretch, the Giants only had four healthy LBs on their roster, leaving the ST units to the backup lineman, defensive backs and receivers. Ughhh...
They did not have a consistent gunner on the coverage team and used Randle (who has a pedestrian 6.5 yards per return average) as the primary returner. With some players returning from injury and others being added over time, the specials will have a more traditional look in the second half. Quinn spoke to reporters yesterday.....
Was there anything you saw during the bye week where you said you can do better?"We looked at the punt extensively and the hang, the distance and location of the punts is number one. Put it in a consistent area where you know it’s going to be as a coverage team and then the second thing was the quickness off the ball and then the quickness of the release being more violent with the hands to be able to get out and run and take the lane that you’re supposed to take. Those are the two biggest things that came out."
Did you see anything that surprised that you didn’t already know?"No. Luckily, the special teams, it’s all we do. So we have enough time to pour over the tapes. It’s not like we get distracted otherwise and we’ll go back and keep watching our cutups over and over. We get a good look at it."
How important is continuity for special teams?"Continuity is important because if we’re all used to working with each other and I know which way you’re going to go and you know which way I’m going to go and so we can work off each other… It’s starting to come around. The last couple of weeks we started to feel a sense of continuity and sense of who they are, but it’s always ever changing. That’s the nature of special teams."
Is it strange to have such different success ratios on kickoff coverage and punt coverage? It seems like you do very well on kickoff coverage. Or are they completely different?"This year it is. In the years past it hasn’t been, but it is surprising. It’s the same guys blocking and what’s the difference? It frustrates you. You can do one end of it and play real fast and the other end and play tentative. So we’re trying to create guys playing fast and confident on both coverage teams."
Usually if you can do one, you can do both?"Yes."
Is kickoff return becoming a lost art? It seems like nobody is getting chances."That’s the way you feel at some point and then you start taking some foolish risks where you take them out too deep and not create the field position you want. I don’t think so. I think as the weather changes and guys get some kicks underneath them, they get a little bit tired and then the balls will be more in play. We haven’t gotten in a groove with that. We’ve had a couple of different returners, but Jerrel has done it for a number of years. Hopefully we can get into a rhythm with that."
Have you seen many opportunities in the punt return game?"Not as much as we would like. We have been more pressure-oriented than probably we would like and that has maybe a little bit to do with the health of the guys on the outside, but they’re starting to come around where we’re starting to get a little bit more balance with that. So hopefully we’ll get some more return opportunities and more return looks."
Has Rueben Randle been able to do anything?"The frustrating thing is when you look at the self-scout is we had two 20-plus returns taken off the books because of penalties, which were foolish. So that’s frustrating. We’re not at a point where we can give those up and give those back."
Did you move Damontre Moore back inside on punt?"Yeah."
Did you think he was a better fit there?"No. You want to get your 11 best on the field and if we have better guys outside that are healthy now then we can put those guys outside and we can move him back inside, which is a more natural position for a defensive end."
What did you like about him on the outside?"He is a fresh set of legs. There was really no other options, so that was the guy that we wanted to go with."