2019 Pats Special Teams: Because it's ALL THREE PHASES, Dammit!

E5 Yaz

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Ghost missed 1 of 5 kicks yesterday, sending fans who weren't already there after the Miami game racing for the Tobin. Something's off in his consistency, and our resident kicking guru pointed to a sweep of the leg ... or some such nerdy analysis in the game thread.

The placekick hold issue seems to have straightened out.

Bailey has prompted no discernible outpouring for the return of Ryan Allen.

Injuries (King for the season; Ebner banged up) forced some front-liners onto ST groupings.

fwiw, admittedly not much, Slater was named one of Peter King's ST players of the week.

Whatchugot?
 

NomarsFool

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Anyone know what the proportion of touchbacks is for kick-offs in the league? He seems to be killing it on that (of course, just a small proportion of the placekicker game).
 

E5 Yaz

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Anyone know what the proportion of touchbacks is for kick-offs in the league? He seems to be killing it on that (of course, just a small proportion of the placekicker game).
Clearly a change of strategy from last year's kick it inside the 5 and try to stop the returner short of the 25
 

tims4wins

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I think we need to give it a few weeks for Gost. The devil you know and all that.

I think the rest of the ST look fine -kick and punt coverage have been great, punt return has been so-so, and I'm not going to kill Gunner for one muff (though it was a bad one), he has handled a LOT of punts so far.
 

bakahump

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maybe last years defense needed (or it was believed early on in the season it needed) those extra few yards of field position. This year Kick it to the EZ, take it from the 25 and try to score. (what happened in the SB? did we try for touchbacks or returns?)

And Slaters kill of the kick inside the 3 while tumbling into the endzone was amazing.
 

Ale Xander

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I think we need to give it a few weeks for Gost. The devil you know and all that.

I think the rest of the ST look fine -kick and punt coverage have been great, punt return has been so-so, and I'm not going to kill Gunner for one muff (though it was a bad one), he has handled a LOT of punts so far.
He's had 7 weeks. Not saying cut him now or anything, but maybe bring an experienced guy Forbath or a young guy like Rose for a tryout, maybe to push him. Or better yet, make a phone call to Seabass to coax him out of retirement.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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On a related topic, and apologies for putting the jinx of all jinxes out there, I don't think the Pats have had a penalty on special teams all year. Feels like a really unusual accomplishment, and speaks to very good coaching.
 

IdiotKicker

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I think Bailey is an absolutely monster and is already a top-10 punter in the league right now. He's just fantastic, and while he hasnt had a ton of opportunities, it seems like every punt is on the numbers or outside of them, and typically right around the opposing 7-10 yard line if he's within range. And he's usually within range because he has no trouble getting 50-55 yards on his punts when he is in his own end. He's just phenomenal.

On Gostkowski, I have never seen his mechanics this bad. I don't know if you can make a move now, just because I don't think you're going to like what you find out there, either in terms of ability or experience. There are some good legs kicking around, but they've never kicked at the NFL level and I have no idea how they'll do in that kind of pressure. There are also some experienced guys out there, but they either have weak legs (Forbath) or the yips (Walsh, Catanzaro). So I think Gostkowski has some time to get himself squared away, but it's more because there is a lack of other options, rather than me really trusting him to get through this. I mean, some kickers are known for going through one really bad stretch each year. Stephen Hauschka for awhile went through a 3-week period every year where he would just completely fall apart, and then put his game back together. On the other hand, you have guys like Dan Bailey, who are fantastic for like 5 years in a row, and then lose their mechanics and become below-average for the next 3 years. It's a crapshoot, but I guess this is one of the situations where you go with the kicker you know, rather than going into the unknown. If Gostkowski is still missing 20% of his XPs by the halfway point, he's gone, but he's got some leeway.
 
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Gost is notoriously in his own head. I’m not sure bringing in a guy, mid season, will do much to help, and I don’t know how greater the options are than hoping he works it out, as he has before, and sticking with the status quo.
 

bakahump

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@IdiotKicker

How much of this is Holder related? I am not saying Bailey is doing anything "wrong" only that he is "Different" and in the world of seemingly temperamental kickers even just a bit "Different" seems like it could wreck some havoc.

Any idea how long a LS-H-K combo reasonably needs to work together to be comfortable?
 

tims4wins

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He's had 7 weeks. Not saying cut him now or anything, but maybe bring an experienced guy Forbath or a young guy like Rose for a tryout, maybe to push him. Or better yet, make a phone call to Seabass to coax him out of retirement.
But he hasn't had 7 weeks exclusively with Bailey. Like @IdiotKicker says if he is still missing 20% of his PATs in a few weeks he'll be gone.

Also, Seabass missed 3 PATs and 5 FGs last year. Gost missed 1 PAT and 5 FG. I know we remember the misses but... give it time. Let's not forget that in 2016, coming off the missed PAT in the 2015 AFCCG, he missed a kick in 5 out of 6 games early in the year. Then he only missed 1 PAT and 2 FG over the last 9 games of the year. Kickers can be streaky.
 

Mugsy's Jock

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I violently agree that Gostkowski should have time to figure things out and the devil you know is, in this high-pressure position, a billion times better than the devil you don't. Furthermore, as noted upthread, it's not like some strong reliable option was mistakenly left sitting around on waivers.

However one other option to consider -- again, not for 3-4 weeks -- would be trading for a top-grade kicker from a non-contending club. Unfortunately, my quick check suggested all the best kickers are on contenders (probably not a coincidence?) but if somebody more knowledgeable than me has a trade target suggestion, I'd love to hear it.
 

IdiotKicker

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@IdiotKicker

How much of this is Holder related? I am not saying Bailey is doing anything "wrong" only that he is "Different" and in the world of seemingly temperamental kickers even just a bit "Different" seems like it could wreck some havoc.

Any idea how long a LS-H-K combo reasonably needs to work together to be comfortable?
So I no longer subscribe to gamepass so I'm not looking at slow-mo replays of holds for hours on end like I used to, but I haven't seen anything that's been a noticeable problem in the regular season. Assuming BB thinks Bailey is a competent holder, it shouldn't be more than a few practices before they're clicking. I mean, I've seen some guys who are just bad holders, and it's like you're never going to get comfortable with them because they just suck. Slow hands, bad hands, you name it, some guys just can't do it. Given what we know about BB and his emphasis on special teams, I have a hard time believing he'd allow a holder who sucks to actually hold, so I put this on Gostkowski.
 

ElcaballitoMVP

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maybe last years defense needed (or it was believed early on in the season it needed) those extra few yards of field position. This year Kick it to the EZ, take it from the 25 and try to score. (what happened in the SB? did we try for touchbacks or returns?)

And Slaters kill of the kick inside the 3 while tumbling into the endzone was amazing.
It may be simpler than that. They tried it last year, Bill decided the potential risk outweighed the potential reward and is just kicking it deep and taking away any possibility of a big return. I have no idea how to check those numbers- were the Pats successful kicking it short of the end zone? Did they give up any big returns on those? If they were giving up some big plays, they might've decided it's just not worth it.

It could also be game plan related. Kick it out of the end zone, don't give the Jets a chance to get positive field position on a big return and make Luke Falk go 75 yards every time. Against a better team where Bill thinks they may be able to get an advantage on special teams, maybe they bring it back and try to pin a team deep.

In the Super Bowl, they kicked off after their first FG to the 1 yard line and Josh Reynolds returned it to the 27.
To start the 2nd half, Ghost kicked it out of the end zone.
After a Pats TD made it 10-3, Ghost kicked it out of the end zone again.
After a FG made it 13-3, Ghost again kicked it out of the end zone.

Looks like they took a shot early in the game to pin them deep, it didn't make much of a difference and then played it safe with the lead.
 

tims4wins

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It may be simpler than that. They tried it last year, Bill decided the potential risk outweighed the potential reward and is just kicking it deep and taking away any possibility of a big return. I have no idea how to check those numbers- were the Pats successful kicking it short of the end zone? Did they give up any big returns on those? If they were giving up some big plays, they might've decided it's just not worth it.

It could also be game plan related. Kick it out of the end zone, don't give the Jets a chance to get positive field position on a big return and make Luke Falk go 75 yards every time. Against a better team where Bill thinks they may be able to get an advantage on special teams, maybe they bring it back and try to pin a team deep.

In the Super Bowl, they kicked off after their first FG to the 1 yard line and Josh Reynolds returned it to the 27.
To start the 2nd half, Ghost kicked it out of the end zone.
After a Pats TD made it 10-3, Ghost kicked it out of the end zone again.
After a FG made it 13-3, Ghost again kicked it out of the end zone.

Looks like they took a shot early in the game to pin them deep, it didn't make much of a difference and then played it safe with the lead.
Not entirely sure when it started, but BB clearly tried the strategy in week 1 last year - 6 Pats kickoffs resulted in 5 returns.
 

Al Zarilla

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He actually missed the ball a tad but it couldn’t have turned out better. Just his getting there in time to keep it out of the end zone was great, and love the shot of the crowd cheering as much as for a long Tommy TD pass.
 

Al Zarilla

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Jake Bailey named AFC special teams player of the week
When it rains, it pours, but in a good way with the Patriots. I didn’t know Bailey went to Stanford. At some point, some announcer will say what a smart punter he is.
 

SeoulSoxFan

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Jake Bailey named AFC special teams player of the week
Thanks to Bailey, NE is making opponents start at their 23.9 yard-line/avg. That's 4th best in the league. (Pats are starting on their 34.6 yard-line/avg, 2nd best in the league).

P. S. Although he's only averaging 44.4 yards per punt (24th out of 33 punters), I think it may have to do with Brady moving the ball far down enough for a relatively shorter field to work with.
 

Reverend

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Thanks to Bailey, NE is making opponents start at their 23.9 yard-line/avg. That's 4th best in the league. (Pats are starting on their 34.6 yard-line/avg, 2nd best in the league).

P. S. Although he's only averaging 44.4 yards per punt (24th out of 33 punters), I think it may have to do with Brady moving the ball far down enough for a relatively shorter field to work with.
He’s been dropping punts within the 20 with great hang time, so yeah, average distance will not be a good metric of evaluation here.