Special Teams are the seldom talked about, but most dynamic part of any football team. Sure, the deep pass is sexy and a great Sack is pretty awesome, but spectacular plays occur more often when the Special Teams are on the field. A good ST's Unit can add a couple victories each season to any football team. This has been a problem for the Denver Broncos in the recent past. When Mike Shanahan was fired in 2008, the ST Coordinator he hired, Scott O'Brien, went with him. In the past, Special Teams was an afterthought for the Broncos franchise. Mike Priefer was hired and he was supposed to bring that afterthought some stability and improvement.
Anyway, another regime change occurred this off-season and with the new Head Coach came new Assistant Coaches. The Broncos new Special Teams Coordinator is Jeff Rodgers.
Rodgers previously earned NFL experience with San Francisco from 2003-07, working as the Special Teams Quality Control coach for 2 years before being elevated to Assistant Special Teams coach in 2005. In 2007, Jeff helped Pro Bowl punter Andy Lee finish first in the NFC and 2nd in the NFL in net punting with an average of 41.0 yards and set a league record with 42 punts inside the 20. The 49ers also ranked first in the NFL in kickoff coverage with an opponents’ average drive start of the 24.9-yard line. He took a 1-year post as Special Teams Coordinator at Kansas State in 2008, where he elevated their Special Teams units to among the nation's best. Jeff started his coaching career as a graduate assistant at the University of Arizona from 2000-01. His older brother, Jay, is entering his 3rd season on the Broncos’ coaching staff and will serve as a defensive quality control coach in 2011.
Under Rodgers, Carolina’s Special Teams posted improvements in nearly every statistical category from the previous season, including punt return average (9.6), kickoff return average (21.9) and opponent starting field position after kickoffs (25.0).
"Guys are just getting after it more and buying into what Coach Rodgers is telling us. Offensive and defensive guys are stepping up on Special Teams. We're taking a lot of pride in it."
Jordan Senn, a reserve Linebacker for the Panthers last year said:
"I like special teams. It challenges people. It shows what type of person you are: Do you play this game just to play defense and be one of the big names, or do you play because you love the game and want to win?"
"I think it takes special people to play Special Teams in terms of mindset. You'll see some guys make like one good play on Special Teams because everybody is a good athlete out here, but the next play they might not do anything. What is that? That's all in your mindset."
- Set a Standard to maintain throughout the year, no matter what situation they're in.
- Be fundamentally sound and take care of their own playing before the opponent.
- Win the situational battles.
Now I realize that I look at things with a bit of a Kool-Aid bias, but watch that video and see if you feel as positive as I do for our Special Teams in the near future.