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Improving New York Giants’ Special Teams: ‘The Start of a Great Thing’

November 21st, 2013 at 11:00 AM
By Billy Javed

It was only a week ago that the New York Giants had one of their worst special teams performances of the season. All week head coach Tom Coughlin and special teams coordinator Tom Quinn insisted that unit had to perform better, and perform better they did as the group had one of its best overall outings of the season.

Though there were no blocked kicks or punts against the Green Bay Packers, the special teams showed great focus on a crucial fake punt late in the third quarter, holding the Packers a yard short, and yielding a turnover on downs. It was a momentum shifting play, as the Giants would turn the favorable field positioning into a touchdown and a 14-point lead.

Rueben Randle was the first to get the show started on special teams with his longest punt return of the season for 32 yards, a return that led to the Giants first touchdown of the day.

On the other side, the special teams coverage also played at a high level. On three kickoff returns, Green Bay’s Micah Hyde mustered a long of 27-yards. On punt returns, Hyde totaled just 34-yards on three returns. Though much of that was a result of one of Steve Weatherford’s finer days at the office.

Despite the knuckling wind, Weatherford averaged 53 yards per punt and a net average of 42.2 on five quality boots. Kicker Josh Brown was perfect from the field as well, connecting from 40 and 28 yards out.

The all-around successful and focused play from the special teams seems to suggest that it is no coincident that the teams best special teams performance came the week after its worst. The coaches emphasized better production and the players responded. Spencer Paysinger, who made the first down saving tackle on the fake punt, seems to think that the special teams, much like the defense, may have found the confidence to keep the unit rolling.

“Hopefully this is the start of a great thing because realistically our punt and other special teams areas have been sub-par, we know that,” Paysinger said. “That’s on me, and Mark [Herzlich] and Ryan Mundy, guys who are primarily on special teams. You’ll see a difference in the coming weeks.”

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Photo credit: John M Photography / Foter.com / CC BY-ND

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Tags: Football, Josh Brown, New York, New York Giants, NFL, Rueben Randle, Ryan Mundy, Spencer Paysinger, Steve Weatherford, Tom Coughlin, Tom Quinn

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32 Responses to “Improving New York Giants’ Special Teams: ‘The Start of a Great Thing’”

  1.  fanfor55years says:

    This is a VERY important unit, one that casual fans don’t realize is absolutely crucial. We all know that full well. And I’m glad they played well last week and that Weatherford (whom I think is a great asset) came out of his funk and Randle actually showed a little “escapability”. But to say they “showed great focus” on that fake punt is nuts. In fact, Paysinger had to make a GREAT play to stop that play inches short when Coughlin and Quinn and Izzo should have been all over that fake given the situation. The Packers had just punted the ball to the Giants’ 14-yard line. Yet they took a penalty that gave them a fourth-and-five inside Giants’ territory. After they had the Giants’ pinned down inside their own 15? That SCREAMED fake.

    I think that play was a testament to “Just Makes Plays” Paysinger and a a sad demonstration of the lack of in-game awareness that seems not to have changed from the days when this group (minus Izzo) allowed the Eagles to mount an embarrassing comeback that included an on-sides kick when everyone in the stadium except, apparently, the coaches who had not put the hands team in, knew it was coming.

    We got lucky that Paysinger (with some help from Herzlich) made a play. Otherwise we might be ruing this season already and wondering how a stiff like Quinn can survive all these years of horrid play by his group with the single exception of 2012, which may have been an anomaly.

    •  jfunk says:

      Unfortunately, I think the in-game awareness thing has always been a weakness of Coughlin’s (his clock management isn’t good, although there are guys even worse) and it appears to have taken a dramatic turn for the worse this year.

      Earlier this year, I believe there were three consecutive games where Coughlin accepted penalties where declining was CLEARLY the better option. Things like turning down 3rd & 9 for 2nd & 13, or 4th & 5 for 3rd & 15. I think he took a re-kick on a punt we had good field position from once too. I don’t remember each specifically, I just remember disbelief after the third or fourth one of these in about a 3 week span. It was like he was on auto-pilot just accepting any penalty no matter what the circumstances.

      I feel like this staff needs a special assistant just for this kind of management. When it’s not a penalty or end of half clock situation, it can be this guy’s job to stand next to Gilbride with a stopwatch and scream at him to give Eli a play already.

  2.  fanfor55years says:

    Where is everyone?

    Okay, I’ll talk to myself. It’s pretty exciting that EVERYONE is practicing today. You know it’s a big game.

    I know I’ve been a major critic of Corey Webster since last season, but I’ll tell you what. I really hope he can play on Saturday because I’ll take his veteran savvy and hope he can play physically against the Dallas wide receivers because he has the size that McBride doesn’t. Our best possible secondary right now is Prince, TT, Webster, Rolle and Hill, with Mundy available when they want to go with three safeties. I also would not be shocked to see either McBride or Hosley inserted in certain situations where we have to match up with that slot receiver for the Cowboys who is quick when Austin isn’t one of the three receivers. But the danger in that is that the Cowboys have apparently been sending Bryant into the slot on occasion just to be sure he is freed up off the LOS,

    •  jfunk says:

      If Webster is a go, it might actually be a good idea to put him on the line vs. Bryant to be physical and constantly have help over the top.

      Let Prince take Williams or Austin alone.

      •  fanfor55years says:

        Agreed. The Saints sandwiched him all game and Romo only threw TWO balls to him. No way that’s happening again. Romo will force some balls Bryant’s way and expect him to make the play. If we have Webbie hit him in those first five yards and have Rolle or Hill rotating toward him there may be some turnover opportunities there. And I am convinced that if the defense can get a turnover or two we should win this game easily. I think their defense should be unable to stop us, even with our lousy offensive line.

  3.  jfunk says:

    Boy, wasn’t SB 42 an awesome feeling? It’s easy to forget just how huge an underdog we were.

    The note on the side there saying we are now 40-1 to win the Superbowl reminded me of this.

    I was in Vegas during the Week 17 Pats-Giants game (that was a fun watch…everybody in the place including those in Cowboys & Eagles jerseys was pulling for the Giants (and had money on them). At that time, a Giants team that was IN the playoffs were 42-1.

    Thank about that. THIS Giants team…the 4-6 team that has looked every bit an 0-10 team in getting there is being given BETTER odds of winning the whole thing than a 10-6 2007 team that was already guaranteed a spot in the tournament.

    They were 12-1 to win the NFC and I bet that too. I wish I could go back in time and drop a little more cash in that casino. :-)

  4.  GOAT56 says:

    Everyone practicing is huge! To be at this point of the year and be this healthy is great. Webster is an important addition. I’m very excited, just haven’t had the time to post. Against Dallas to me we just can’t let Dez beat us. Witten might get a lot of catches but that doesn’t beat you. Dez can ruin the game. I not only put Prince on him but I bracket him most of the game. Let the other WRs and Witten prove they can beat us. I’m confident we can stop their running game. It will come down to stopping their passing game. And really forcing some mistakes.

    •  jfunk says:

      I wouldn’t necessarily say all these guys are “healthy”, but it says volumes that they’re “all-in” despite their nagging issues.

      Unfortunately, much like last year, I think a couple early season division losses are going to be too much to overcome.

      •  GOAT56 says:

        For the NFL everyone practicing on a Thursday is healthy. The division losses aren’t what killed us last year it was losing games. We have time to make up for those if we just win.

  5.  fanfor55years says:

    Hey, it’s Week 12 and we’re still playing significant games. How many thought that would be the case after Week 6? It’s a wacky league under this salary cap and CBA. Nearly anything can happen. If we win the next two games then things REALLY get exciting.

    I am still not even thinking about playoffs, but at 6-6 they become more than a pipedream.

    It’s going to be COLD on Sunday. The Cowboys are not used to playing in real cold. That’s at least a slight advantage to us. I’ll take every one we can get. I’ll even welcome the analysts talking on Monday about how we beat a team missing Sean Lee and with a less-than-100% DeMarcus Ware and yadayada. I don’t care. Just get the win.

  6.  LUZZ says:

    It was mentioned earlier this morning that we are a better team at this point than we were in week 1. I’m not sure that’s the case at all. In week 1 Dallas needed every bit of the 6 turnovers we gave them to win. I think in this game we will need to be at least even in the turnover column to get a win, possibly minus 1, but that’s it.

    We moved the ball in week 1 up and down the field almost at will. We either scored or turned it over, I think we only punted once. I haven’t seen us move the ball like we did in week 1 since that game. The offense has regressed since that game. Plus, we really haven’t solved our pesky turnover problems yet.

  7.  LUZZ says:

    Don’t get me wrong, I still like the Giants in this game. I have been one of the posters on here keeping the faith even while we were sitting at 0-6. However, the offense’s best game this season was in week 1, and we really haven’t come close to that offensive output since.

    •  fanfor55years says:

      Dallas’ defense was the worst we’ve faced. And they’re worse now. If not for the cold that is predicted for Sunday I’d assume a breakout game for the offense this week. As it is, we should have less trouble scoring than we’ve had since Week 1.

      •  LUZZ says:

        Hope ur right. Agree the Cowboy D is the worst. I called for the offense to breakout against Oakland but was wrong. I’d love to see the Giants put up 35+ points this week. We need it for several reasons.

        •  JimStoll says:

          I posted on this yesterday: Dallas’ terrible defense vs. the Giants Awful Offense

          something’s got to give

          I’m betting the ‘Pokes’ D is enough worse than our O and we take a W

  8.  jerseyrich says:

    The goal is 5-1 from here on out. 9-7 should get us the division….philly wont win 10 games with their remaining schedule. They probably will win 9 though.

  9.  GOAT56 says:

    Any type of bad weather favor us. I like us being able to run against their front more than vice versa.

  10.  LUZZ says:

    I think Philly will win 9 games. Not sure how we stack up against Philly with the tiebreakers. If we don’t hold the tiebreaker we’re probably going to have to win out in order to get the division. The path to the post season is still incredibly difficult and hard to fathom if Philly gets to 9 wins and they hold the tiebreaker against us.

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