Special Teams Still A Work In Progress

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The blocked field goal (painfully depicted above) from Monday night’s game, served as a reminder that a vastly improved special teams still has some work to do.

Already in 2010, kicker Graham Gano has kicked the longest field goal of his career (50 yards against Dallas), and punter Sav Rocca leads the league in punts downed inside the 20-yard line (9).

But the blocked kick on Monday night also could have been the deciding factor in a game the Redskins should have won.

“I came in yesterday and watched all the film,” said long snapper Nick Sundberg, “and I think it’s just one of those things.  The outcome didn’t turn out perfect like it usually does, and the outcome wasn’t in our favor.”

And that, ladies and gentlemen, might be the most politically correct answer ever told in an NFL locker room.

Clearly Sundberg didn’t want to put blame on a teammate for not executing the play perfectly, but replay showed that the error occurred on the hold.  Head coach Mike Shanahan confirmed that this afternoon.

“Basically, the snap was good and we just didn’t get it down and we just didn’t get it done,” Shanahan said.  “Those things do happen, and you can take a look at film, and it’s very easy to see. You just keep on practicing and get some more reps, and hopefully it won’t happen again.”

Sundberg echoed those sentiments hour earlier, but refused to put the blame squarely on Rocca as the holder.

“It’s my job to make Sav’s job easier,” he said.  “I know the snap wasn’t perfect, it isn’t where I wanted it, but repetition improves everything.  Sav’s the best holder I’ve ever had, to be honest with you; he’s excellent.”

Shanahan later agreed, saying, “Our holder is probably as good a holder as I have seen since I’ve been in the NFL.  I’ve never seen a guy that consistent, so for him not to put it down perfectly is probably something that he hasn’t done in a long time.”

That’s high praise from a teammates that has seen a parade of holders in Washington, and another man that has been in pro football for nearly 30 years.

Sundberg explained how finite the art of kicking is, and how the three will work together to iron out any kinks before St. Louis.

“I know when I have a snap that’s a little off, that hits him in the numbers instead of on the hip, and I know what to do to fix that,” he said.  “For me, on a punt, if I follow through a quarter of an inch too much, it makes a foot of difference where the ball goes.  They’re little, little, little things that you do that make a huge difference.”

So how do three people fix a teeny, tiny mistake?  Practice perfectly.

“You just try to go out and get as many reps as you can, doing it exactly the same each time and try to make it perfect,” Sundberg said.

The Redskins won’t make 100 percent of their kicks, but I wouldn’t expect to see mistakes like this one again.

0 thoughts on “Special Teams Still A Work In Progress

  1. 2010? Meet Hunter Smith, sav. Conspicuous thar the author failed to mention his fumbled snap to lose the Tampa Bay game last year, followed by his immediate waiver from the team Sav: next screw up and you WILL be cut, no matter what everyone says.


    • @Tony-

      Bold prediction, but I’m not buying it. Sav is leading the league in punts downed inside the 20. Sav has missed exactly one snap in five years in the league, and that was on Monday night. His coaches know that, and he has a track record of success and he’s still doing reasonably well. It’s good to have high standards, but it’s important to look at the full picture. Rocca is not your average Smith.


      • Yes, and Shane Graham was the 2nd most accurate kicker in the history of the NFL before squibbing a 29 yarder in preseason. Oh yes, and getting CUT the next day. Please.


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