New York Giants Special Teams New York Giants
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.