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.
Quinn also has former Patriots and Jets' special teams ace Larry Izzo as his new assistant, replacing Thomas McGaughey, who went back to work for LSU during the NFL lockout and stayed there.
Quinn met the media yesterday at TIMEX...
Q: What are you seeing so far from the punters? Are the preseason games really going to be the determining factor?
A: Yeah, they are. In games, you have to deal with covering, location, what’s the hang time. So that’s going to be the big telltale sign for those two to separate from each other. The thing I’d like to say about Matt is that once Steve started punting, he’s become more consistent. He had a rocky day the third day, but since then he’s been more consistent.
Q: Are there big things distinguishing them now? Does one have a stronger leg?
A: Matt’s got a lot of power and Steve’s got really good directional control. That would be the key thing.
Q: Is there one value way more than the other?
A: Well, you want to have a consistent punt so you want the hang and the distance and the location all to match up. Obviously as we’ve seen last year, if you get distance without hang or distance without location it makes it tough to cover because now you’re having to adjust. You don’t have the consistency that we need.
Q: How hard is it to directional punt?A: Not as easy as people say. We’ve had it here, so we’re used to it. We know how to coach it. Steve does a really good job. He did it all last year. Matt did well for his first time directional punting, especially going to his right which was his weakness coming in. He really got that. Just consistency with the ball, having the same distance and hang and location so you can have an idea where it’s going to be.
Q: How important is a 30 yard punt down on the 15 yard line as opposed to a 40 yard punt in the end zone?A: It’s huge. You don’t want to give away any field position, so you make a big point of them ___ with ___ punt. They have more control to keep the ball out of the end zone than with the spiral punt trying to put it out there out of bounds. That’s something that we’ve got to really improve upon. We gave away too much yardage just for touchbacks.
Q: Pierre-Paul has been lobbying for more special teams…
A: We’ll see how it all shakes out. We didn’t use him at all in the preseason last year, and then he came in and was one of our most consistent, productive players. So, we’ll see how it all shakes out. We’re just trying to get everyone ready to play.
Q: Is there anything specific that makes him a great special teams player or it is just that he’s a freak athlete?
A: He’s a freak athlete number one. Number two, he’s got a great desire to do it. He’s very courageous. Put those three together with his skill set and it’s very hard to block him on kickoff.
Q: Matt’s more consistent. Have you seen a change in his attitude?
A: He’s always had a good attitude; it’s just being consistent and doing it on the big stage. We saw practice consistency. We have to see it in the game. That’s where it counts.
Q: Is that one of those things that you have to say something to him or when Steve shows up the message is clear?A: He knew we were bringing someone in all along. He knew it’d be competition. He knows what the situation is. He knows how good he can be. He’s just got to do it. That’s what we kind of told him. It’s in your hands, so go ahead and run with it.
Q: How’s Larry Izzo been?A: Larry’s been great, a lot of energy.
transcript courtesy Giants Communications Dept