|RW McQuarters returns a punt against the Eagles. The Giants return and coverage teams have been less than special so far this season.|
Luckily, there is. I think we can all agree that the Giants special teams have left a lot to be desired so far this season.
The placekicking has been adventurous, the return game has been pedestrian, and the coverage teams have been "hold your breath and hope somebody makes a tackle" bad.
Let's take a look at the special teams, and see if we can come up with any suggestions on how to improve the situation.
First, just how bad have the Giants special teams actually been?
I'm no stathead, but the folks at Football Outsiders can be. They have developed a system called DVOA, or Defense-adjusted Value Over Average. They define it this way.
Why do we care? Well, it gives us pretty good evidence to back up what we've seen with our eyes through five games -- the Giants special teams aren't very good.
The Giants rank 27th of 32 teams according to Football Outsiders Special Teams DVOA formula.
Like I said, we knew they weren't very good.
The Giants are in the middle of the pack when it comes to the return game, 13th in kickoff return average and 19th in punt return average.
Do you want to see changes in the returners? Perhaps Derrick Ward or Ahmad Bradshaw on kickoffs? How about newly-acquired Domenik Hixon or rookie Aaron Ross on punt returns? Or can you live with what the Giants have gotten from Reuben Droughns (kickoffs) and RW McQuarters (punts) so far?
Lawrence Tynes is an acceptable 7-for-9 on field goals, but has missed an extra point. Snapper Jay Alford is inconsistent, but I suspect the Giants will live with it and hope he gets better.
The real problem is coverage. Leon Washington's 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown Sunday brought it to the forefront, but the coverage has been lacking all season. Washington's Antoine Randle-El nearly broke a punt return for a score in Week 3.
What should the Giants do about it? Should they sign a kickoff specialist, perhaps Josh Huston to try and create touchbacks? Should more starters play on the coverage teams? Should special teams coach Tom Quinn change his alignment or coverage style?
I'm not sure I have a good answer. I really don't want to see more starters exposed to special teams play -- the memory of the Jason Sehorn injury will forever be imprinted on my brain.
It might just be an indication that the backup players the Giants have are not good special teams players. Maybe you'll see more signings during the season of guys like Hixon, brought in after Denver released him specifically for his ability on special teams.