Giants Special Teams Rankings
Kick return avg: 20.4 (21st overall) Long: 46 TD: 0
Kick coverage avg: 24.5 (10th highest) Long: 69 TD: 0
Kicking: FG: 18/20 Long: 46 PAT: 25/25 (22nd overall)
Punt return avg: 8.1 (22nd overall) Long: 32 TD: 1 (block)
Punt coverage avg: 15.4 (2nd highest) Long 89 TD: 3 (lead NFL)[/sny-box]The Giants' special teams have been straightening out the past few weeks. Steve Weatherford and the punt coverage has gotten their act together, but all is still not well.
The Giants' returns are way down from last season, when they led the league in kick return average behind rookie David Wilson. They still have not been effective on punt returns. Rueben Randle has been assuming the role, but he is only out there because of his sure hands. Through 13 games, the Giants still have not attempted a 50-yard FG.
Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn explains the difference between last year's kick return team and this year's:
"Well, there’s a bunch of new blockers. I think we blocked it well for him (Wilson) last year and he’s obviously a tremendous talent, so that helps, and then when you have a tremendous talent back there a lot of times you block a little bit longer, a little bit harder. We just haven’t got into a groove with it. It’s been frustrating. We felt the last two to three weeks there’s been some opportunities here and there to get something started and you’re one block away. So we’re focusing on just finishing our blocks and doing our job to hopefully get some field position for the offense."
Since the league moved the kickoff line up to the 35, the decision to take the ball out of the end zone and attempt a return has become a skill. The Giants are entrusting another rookie (Michael Cox) to make those decisions this season. He's averaging 19.4 yards per attempt.
"He (Cox) did a good job of getting over to the one closest to the sideline, but he’s aggressive to get it and he hasn’t really had to face that because of the weather change as far as, ’Am I going to take it out or am I going to keep it in?’" said Quinn. "We didn’t finish one block on a kickoff return or he could have had a pretty good return, so we’ve got to work on finishing blocks."
Sizing up this week's opponent - the San Diego Chargers:
"They’re very solid all the way across the board. I think Kevin Spencer does an outstanding job. They had a bunch of different returners due to some injuries, but whoever they put in has done well. I like Danny Woodhead, how he’s just vertical and tough to get a bead on because he’s in and out of his cuts. Hawkins has got very good speed and then obviously Eddie Royal has got a great history, so those three guys at kick returns and then punt return, Keenan Allen is a guy who we really liked when he came out of college last year out of (California). It’ll be a challenge. They’re well coached and they’re outstanding specialists with Novak and Scifres. I’ve never done a hit chart like their punter’s. Eight years… The hang time is tremendous, so he’s really done a nice job and that aides their coverage."
Quinn on the finish of the Auburn-Alabama game last week...
What did you think of that Alabama vs. Auburn finish? As a special teams coach, do you have a unique perspective on that?"It’s a situation that we work on. We get a bunch of time to work on. We try to work on it with the field goal team every last field goal we cover. We just make sure we get used to… on the field, but obviously there is a physical mismatch when you’ve got a returner against linemen."
How can you combat that? Do you try to teach lane assignments?"It’s lanes and leverage. Obviously you want to keep the ball leveraged and the guys that can go down and make tackles; your snapper, your wings, they’ve got to go down there and make the tackle."