Fire Amos Jones

Cardinals Special Teams 2016 Season Summary

A lot contributed to the Cardinals poor record in 2016; however, you can point to big Special Teams mistakes in each loss that directly affected the outcome, or contributed:

Patriots - missed FG to take lead at end (along with low snap by long snapper).

Bills - poor snap on FG led to long TD return by Bills defense – 10 point swing when we were trying to come back.

Seahawks - 1 short missed FG in OT and 1 blocked FG in regulation / blocked punt leads to their only score of regulation. We were DOMINATING the Seahawks offense in that game. If we don't get that kick blocked, we might have won the game 3-0.

Rams - poor punt coverage in 4th quarter allows Tavon Austin to return the ball deep into our territory and Rams offense scores a TD to take the lead and, ultimately, win the game.

Vikings - Allows a kickoff return to start the 2nd half.

Vikings punt, (2:33) (Punt formation) 18-J.Locke punts 72 yards to ARI 13, Center-47-K.McDermott, downed by MIN-40-K.Brothers. Cards return man John Brown back-pedaled and signaled for a fair catch. Then he lost the ball in the, I don’t know, the U.S. Bank girders. He stepped aside as the ball hit terra firma and then kept bouncing. It finally came to rest on the Arizona 13-yard line – a 72-yard punt.

Atlanta - 4 punts, 166 yards, 40.0 net. Calais Campbell jumps offsides on 4th-and-5 as the Falcons get ready to punt.

Miami - 15 yard penalty on KO results in only an extra 4 yards for Cards; 31 yd punt end of 3rd

Also, the combined performances of the kickers. Well, I think everyone is aware of that.

Finally, we never put any pressure on the other team’s punter and haven’t come close to blocking a punt in recent memory.

Just when I think I can stop this madness, famous Amos gets hired by Arians in Tampa as an assistant special teams coach. Tampa Bay is already 29th in the league (after the 2018 season) in special teams. Tampa fans, I'll keep an eye on things for you.

Cleveland Recap:

At the end of the 2017 season, the Cleveland Browns ended the season ranked 27th overall in special teams in the league, one spot ahead of the Cardinals.

At the end of the 2018 season, (according to Football Outsider), the Browns ended up ranked 31st! That's the Amos-effect!

 Just a couple quick stats:

Punting: Ended the season 20th in average and 30th in net. As Cardinals fans know, it's tough when you can't flip the field.

Field Goals: 19 of 25 for 76% (28th in the league)

PAT: 28 of 34 for 82% (32nd in the league)

Kick Returns: 27th based on average

Punt Returns: 12th based on average

2017: At the end of the season, the Cardinals were the 28th ranked specials teams in the NFL (according to Football Outsider).

Based on Average Kickoff Return, the Cardinals were the 22nd ranked team in the NFL.

Based on Average Punt Return, the Cardinals were the 22nd ranked team in the NFL. Adding to this, at seasons end, Lee was 6th in punting average and 24th in net. At one point in December, Punter Andy Lee has had his punts returned for an NFL-worst 416 yards* on 36 punts for an average of 11.56 yds per punt. It isn't the highest average per punt, but was part of the trend. 

Phil Dawson at least finished strong (thankfully since he was the only one scoring points for us). FG: 32 of 40 (80%) and 23 of 26 on XP.

There has been a lot of discussion about lack of execution vs. coaching. When it happens again and again, is it scheme, coaching or the coach's inability to communicate the scheme, or is it really execution? Based on the stats, a reasonable person would determine that special teams has not performed as it should. Just look at the rankings below (last time above 21st was 2012). If it's personnel (which I don't believe), that's one thing. If it's coaching, that's another. Not to say Amos Jones doesn't know scheme. But again I say, look at the Rams. Are they running an offensive scheme that is so drastically different from last year that suddenly Jared Goff is that much better of a QB? Or does McVay know how to communicate and work with the QB to run the offense and fix issues to make sure the QB is efficient and effective. I know coaches have to protect each other, but it's a league of perform or move on. If you are always looking to get better with your players (as Keim says every week), why wouldn't you do it with your coaches that aren't performing?

The past few years:

  • 2010-9th overall (Kevin Spencer as Special Teams coach)
  • 2011-11th overall
  • 2012-11th overall (last season with Kevin Spencer as Special Teams coach)
  • 2013-27th overall (first season of Amos Jones as Special Teams coach)
  • 2014-21st overall
  • 2015-29th overall
  • 2016-30th overall
  • 2017 USA Today pre-season ranking: 22nd
  • as of 12/5/2017, according to Football Outsiders, the Cardinals are the 30th ranked specials teams in the NFL

Just to make sure this is clear:

Since Amos Jones has been the Special Teams coach for the Arizona Cardinals, they have ranked:

  • 27th
  • 21st
  • 29th
  • 30th
  • Currently 30th

Three seasons prior with Kevin Spencer they were 9th, 11th, and 11th.

And this nugget courtesy of ESPN.com: Cardinals among league's worst in most special-teams categories

(The Cardinals are) ranked in the bottom five in the NFL in eight special-teams categories: expected points added by special teams (31st), field goal percentage (29th), opponent field goal percentage (32nd), net yards per punt 28th), opponent net yards per punt (30th), opponent yards per kick return (28th), average starting field position on kickoff returns (30th) and opponent field goal blocks (30th).

Cardinals Highlights of 2017
Out with Chandler Catanzaro. In with 42-year old Phil Dawson.Dawson missed three field goals in all of 2016 for the 49ers. He’s missed seven so far this year, including 4 from less than 40 yards. He’s making 72% of FGs attempted.

12/03/17: Really? A blocked FG and extra point? Allowed a 70 yard punt with no return. A 40 yard punt kicked with a 30 yard return allowed. First it's execution because "it was coached up as well as you could coach it up", and now it's the officials missed a penalty. How about an accountability chart for the coaching staff. Would any names show up on it?

11/26/17: Career best 57 yard field goal by Phil! Have to give him credit.

11/6/17: Another missed field goal Sunday against the 49ers - now 6 missed in 8 games. GM Steve Keim said "We just have to go back to the basics and really dig in and see what’s going wrong and make sure we fix it, because it cannot happen again.”. Know what's going wrong? Coaching. Want to know the impact of good coaching? Look no further than what the Rams have done this year with Coach McVay. Watch the Special teams (it's painful to say it) and how disciplined and well coached it's been. 

11/9/17: You ask any football player what to do on a punt that goes inside the 10 (or 5 or 7 or wherever you want your mark to be) and they'll tell you: let it go. If the punter puts backspin on it and sticks it, good for him. You catch it AT THE 2 YARD LINE AND PIN YOUR TEAM DEEP, it tells me you aren't thinking. Actually, it tells me your coach hasn't prepared you for that moment. Coach will say "we tell them to ...." and yet, it still happens. Then there's the blocked extra point at the end of the game. 

Andy Lee’s punting career before the 2017 season: 32.8% inside the 20. As of 12/5/17, Lee is now at 36% inside the 20. Yet with the most return yards of any punter in the NFL, it points to poor coverage and the inability to pin the other team deep in its own territory.

As of 12/5/17: Not his fault, but Andy Lee's average of 46.7 yards per punt ranks 13th in league, yet he has a net average 38.7 yards ranking him 31st in the league!

Kick Returns
Punt Returns – on NFL.com it lists 77 players that have received a punt return this season. Looking at avg yards per return, Pat P ranks 46th (8 returns) and Kerwynn Williams 42nd (21 returns). William's long of 20 yards is 29th in the league.

Kickoff Returns – Williams is ranking 25th in the NFL in average kickoff return yards (24th if you remove T.J. Jones of Detroit with only 1 return).