For much of the 2015 season the New York Giants have amounted to a very mediocre football team in nearly all phases of the game. Often times, football minds have a set of barometers to measure how truly successful a team has been throughout a season, and the play of the special teams unit is one of such measuring devices. Great special teams play is an indicator of a well-coached, deep, and disciplined football team. It also usually signifies a successful football squad.
As was the case with the entire Giants’ roster this year special teams has been marred with inconsistency. Much of the up-and-down play can be attributed to a barrage of injuries that has decimated the depth of Giants roster, and has trickled down to the bottom 1/3 which is special teams.
Last week’s impressive victory over the surging St. Louis Rams wasn’t without miscues from the “3rd“unit. With just 2 minutes left in the game and a seemingly safe 10 point lead, the Giants prepared to kick a field goal to make it a 2 touchdown affair. But as they snapped the ball Rams’ linebacker Daren Bates timed the snap flawlessly, leaped over the long-snapper, and swatted the attempted field goal for a momentum shifting play late in the contest.
The play ultimately didn’t impact the outcome of the game, but it’s the type of mistake Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn knows they need to eliminate.
“We’ve got to do a better job of changing out the snap count, so it’s not timed up that well,” noted New York’s assistant coach.
Quinn also acknowledged that some phases of special teams have been more troublesome than others.
“Punt coverage is the one that stands out. It’s been the black eye for us,” stated Quinn. “The consistency of the location, the hang times aren’t all matching with guys being in their spots. But then it also comes down to just tackling and coverage runs that have not been as good as it needs to be.”
Punt coverage has lasting effects throughout a football game, and is a major factor in the field position battle that is frequently ignored by many casual fans.
Additionally Quinn disclosed that the revolving door at the bottom of the roster has its consequences but also has yielded rewards.
“You just hope they understand all of what their job entails.,” offered Quinn. “I like when these guys come in because it adds some energy. (Orleans) Darkwa has been a great pickup for us. He’s a good, sound football player. Guys like that, you really like.”
Special teams mean the world to the players clinging to the bottom of rosters late in the season, because it can be the reason they receive a training camp invite for next season. So, if there seems to be little to root for this Sunday, cheer for big returns and monstrous special teams hits.