Football – Special Teams

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If you’re a big football fan, probably one of the most frustrating things you can watch in a game is when two teams are going at it, head to head, evenly matched, no score, both defenses doing their job and then suddenly a kick off is returned 100 yards for a touchdown because a guy on special teams missed an easy tackle. The game is lost because of somebody who is on the field maybe a total of 2 minutes in a 60 minute contest. It’s enough to make you pull your hair out of your head.

The truth is, special teams don’t get the recognition they deserve. They aren’t glamorous like a high powered offense with a star quarterback like a John Elway. They aren’t in the spotlight like a famous defense led by somebody like Lawrence Taylor who was probably one of the greatest middle linebackers to ever play the game, with all his drug problems. No, special teams don’t get all the glory like the other guys do, but they sure get all the blame when a kick off is returned for a touchdown, or they fumble on their own kickoff return. Special teams are under such a microscope that their coaches often lose their jobs because of big blunders on the field.

Special teams have a lot of duties to perform. They return kick offs and punts and on the other end of the spectrum, they kick off after they score and punt the ball when they don’t. So many kickers have had careers ruined because of a missed field goal attempt or a blocked punt. Just recently in the playoffs a kicker missed 3 easy field goals that would have given his team the victory. Instead they went down to a bitter defeat.

Everybody has their theories as to why special teams are sometimes so dreadfully awful. One theory is that enough attention isn’t given to them during training and practices. Another theory is that they just don’t get enough playing time during a game and therefor don’t have enough time to really get their heads and bodies into the game. Still another theory is that these guys really aren’t that good. That’s why they’re on special teams. If they were better players they’d be on the starting offense or defense.

The truth, if there is a truth to this problem, is that it’s probably a combination of all three things. Let’s face it, the offense and defense is what drives each team so much more time has to be given to them. Plus, since special teams aren’t on the field as much, you wouldn’t give as much attention to them. As for their heads being in the game, there is no denying that these guys don’t get to play as much. It’s kind of like a pinch hitter coming off the bench in baseball. It’s not an easy thing to do. And as far as special teams players not being the best on the field, while it is true that some players double on offense and special teams, this is the exception and not the rule. Sadly, your special teams players are not your top players.

Whatever the reason, there is no denying that many a game is lost because of special teams play. But isn’t it great to watch when a special teams player wins a game for you?

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