It's understood that in training camp, you'll have your good days and you'll have your bad days, Tuesday was neither for the Denver Broncos special teams unit.
Tuesday was an actual embarrassment.
Between missed tackles and bad snaps it was hard to tell who Mike Shanahan was yelling at, but one thing's for sure, he did plenty of yelling, beginning with linebacker D.J. Williams for missing an assignment during punt protection drills. Moments later the head coach scolded Matt Lepsis after he snapped the ball well above punt Todd Sauerbrun's head.
"When you practice at that level, it's hard to play very good and we were very average on special teams and we will improve," Shanahan said. "You have got to have a unit playing together. You cannot have eight or nine guys doing a lot of good things and you got two guys that are a little off -- that is very poor."
The frustration of the mastermind began with the joint workouts between Denver and the Houston Texans, it continued through the Broncos first preseason game when rookie Darrent Williams averaged just 25 yards on two kickoff returns and just 2.5 yards on four punt returns. It continued with Sauerbrun's 29-yard net average on punts when the team was unable to field the ball as it bounced near the goal line, and made its way to the end zone, giving Houston field advantage at the 20-yard line.
The emphasis the Broncos put on special teams during the off-season seems mute at this point. The teams second round draft pick and the acquisition of one of the leagues' premier punters hasn't made much of a difference, the Broncos are still the same as they were last year on special teams, mediocre at best.
"If you've played before, then you understand that in order to get it done on gameday, you have to come out here and work during the week. You have to have everyone working on the same level, and we have to improve in the special teams area. Unless we get everyone working together, we are going to come up short, so we are going to work for perfection during the week and hopefully it will carry over to gameday."
So, there it is in a nutshell, the Denver Broncos special teams unit has officially been called out. How they respond is anybody's guess, but my bet says that unless some major improvements are accomplished within the next few weeks, the head coach will have a field day with depth chart.
I would just hate to be on the back side of the Wrath of Shanahan.
Michael John Schon has covered the National Football League and the Denver Broncos for the past nine years. As a member of the Pro Football Writers Association he has published and syndicated columns to both newspapers and magazines throughout the United States and Canada. His syndicated radio broadcast: "Schon Live" airs weekly on various radio stations around the country.
Schon can be reached at Schon@prostarmediagroup.net
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