Part 1 of this weeks Upon Further Review series brings us to the Atlanta Falcons Special Teams Unit. After the first set of games, they are ranked 14th in the league overall by Pro Football Focus. By comparison, the Denver Broncos reside in the 11th spot. The Falcons beat up on the Chiefs pretty good in Week 1 and I’m not so sure that ranking tells the complete story.
First, let’s go over the specialists.
- Matt Bryant is the Field Goal Kicker for Atlanta. He had an excellent game against the Chiefs, making all 4 Extra Point conversions and going 4/4 on Field Goal Attempts, hitting from 34, 21, 30 and 41 yards on Sunday.
- Perhaps the most busiest specialist last Sunday was Matt Bosher, who handled the Punting and Kickoff duties as well as holding for Matt Bryant during Field Goal Attempts. Bosher was only required to make one Punt and it went 52 yards, but he did Kick off nine times. Seven made it to the End Zone with an average landing spot around the Goal Line and four of his nine Kickoffs were touchbacks.
- The Falcons Long Snapper is Josh Harris, a 2nd year pro out of Auburn. Signed as an undrafted free agent on April 29th 2012, Harris beat out veteran Joe Zelenka for the Long Snapping job during Atlanta’s final cuts. By doing so, the Falcons, who are up against the salary cap, saved $480,883. Josh made the Tackle on Matt Boshers only punt on Sunday.
- The Falcons coverage Units allowed a 14-yard Punt Return by the Chiefs Javier Arenas. They also allowed 95 yards on five kick returns for an average of 19 yards. Backup DE Kroy Biermann had 3 Special teams stops, while backup CB Cristopher Owens, backup LB Robert James and Josh Harris had one Special Teams Tackle each.
- RB Jacquizz Rodgers is the Falcons Kick Returner and WR Harry Douglas has the Punt Return duty, although against the Chiefs, Domonique Franks handled the only Punt, making a Fair Catch in the 4th Quarter. Jacquizz made two nice Kick returns. The first went for 77-yards before he was pushed out of bounds.
It will take some discipline on lane coverage assignments by the Broncos or Rodgers will end up on the wrong side of the 50. That's what happened last week in Kansas City. The Chiefs didn't maintain their assignments and Jacquizz torched them with a 77-yard Kick return. It only cost the Chiefs 3 points because of a False Start penalty and Harry Douglas fumbling the ball out of bounds 2 yards shy of a 1st down. Chiefs DB Stanford Routt had him stopped anyway.
Kansas City did a better job in coverage on the second kickoff, but Jacquizz still made a 27-yard return out of it.
Javier Arenas made the error of bringing Matt Bosher’s Kickoff from 8 yards deep out of the end zone and Falcons Special Teams ace Kroy Biermann tackled him at the 10 yard line.
With :10 left in the game Ryan Succop kicked off 5 yards deep into the end zone and Harry Douglas nonchalantly returned in order to run out the clock.
Atlanta has a Top 10 coverage unit, but I think their return specialist won’t be a factor in this game. Even though the game is at Sea level, i.e. not Mile High, Matt Prater will still be kicking touchbacks because it’s only the second week of the season. Britton Colquitt will have similar results as his brother Dustin did last week--One punt, one Fair Catch.
That’s my take. Stay tuned, parts 2 and 3 will be along tomorrow.
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