View Full Version : Special Teams coverage units need to stay alert

08-20-2011, 02:30 PM
The new kickoff rule has shown that nearly every kicker in the league can kick it out of bounds. Hopefully that mean Shaun Suisham too, but we'll see.

Unless you're kicking into a strong headwind or have other factors involved, weather wise, everybody is going to have a touchback to start out their drives.

Kickoff coverage teams, like we've seen alittle bit this preseason so far have been almost caught off guard when a kickoff is returned. This could become an issue once the season starts too because one missed assignment or lapse in concentration can result in a big return. Coverage units may get complacent in thinking the ball is not going to be returned so maybe they let up for a second or don't pay attention to what their doing as much and before you know the returner is at the 40 yd. line or worse.

Now, to keep it in perspective, preseason special teams coverage units are usually a mix of young guys trying to make the team, and not your normal group you see in the regular season. Breakdowns in coverage are nothing new in the preseason. It bears watching none the less once the season starts. The kickoff's may be boring to watch now, incredibly boring, but special teams guys still have to keep their focus.

The Steelers got caught off guard a few times this preseason already. Either caught off guard or just plain didn't make the plays...

08-20-2011, 04:19 PM
I made this point when the NFL initially announced this rule change, but it's worth repeating. If I have a guy who I know can kill, why wouldn't I try popping the ball up a few times especially into a head wind? We've all been there before and know what it is like to try and catch ball in a harsh wind. I can see the kickoff actually being interesting in the winds of December if teams use it correctly.

08-20-2011, 05:31 PM
Good point, and in Heinz Field nothing is gimme at anytime but especially in the kicking game, and kicking off towards the open end of the stadium. I would suspect, or hope atleast, that Tomlin has his guys try and kick shorter to get the coverage teams some more work this preseason.