Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
August 10, 2016
Q: How far was that Josh Brown field goal?
A: I'm not sure, we've adjusted the field, so we've got a bigger end zone...I think it said 63. It's nice to be able to work with the wet ball, both with the punts and the field goals, so it was good work there.
Q: Is there any temptation because of the slickness and rain to say let's not try this today?
A: No, I mean the fields are in good shape, so no hesitation that way. It's good to get your hands on a wet ball to be able to make sure the operation is right.
Q: Do you hope for a rainy practice like this?
A: Not really ‘you hope for,’ but if there is any type of weather, whether we're working inside or outside, try and work with it. We'll go out and if it's windy or rainy or snow, we'll try to get some type of work in.
Q: McAdoo had mentioned Sterling Shepard and the special teams. How does he look to you?
A: Good, all the rookies have done a good job mentally, number one. They've understood the fundamentals that we're teaching, number two. So now we just have to see them do it against somebody else. Do the techniques hold up, does it hold up mentally when you’ve got somebody else in a different color jersey coming down at you. So that's what is going to be the exciting thing to see on Friday night. He's done a nice job; I think they've all done a nice job.
Q: Sterling says he hasn't done it much. How much is he a blank canvas in that regard, starting from scratch.
A: Most guys coming in are pretty much a blank canvas. They may do it early in their careers but very rarely do they play later in their careers, on special teams. Alabama's one team that jumps out to me that you see those guys playing special teams. A lot of teams don't, so you just take it for what it's worth and once they get here, they've got a nice skillset and try and utilize that skillset best you can.
Q: What can you say about the long snapper competition?
A: Both guys are doing well, I think they're bringing out the best in each of them. We'll see how that plays out. I think they're both NFL type snappers. Obviously, Zak (DeOssie) is, and Tyler (Ott)is starting to earn his stripes.
Q: How is Tom Obarski progressing?
A: He's had a nice camp. Makes really good ball contact, just working on alignment issues. He's been solid.
Q: It seems like Brad Wing's directional kicking has gotten better. Do you see that?
A: Yeah, that was a point of emphasis for us going into spring, coming out of spring, then going into training camp. So, trying to do what he does best and that's one thing, his directional punt. He's done a nice job with it.
Q: What impact do you think the new touchback rule will have on kickoffs?
A: You’ve got to wait and see what's going to happen. I know a lot of guys don't want to sacrifice the four yards or three yards or what is it on the drive start. But it will be game-by-game. If you're playing a really dangerous returner, you probably want to bang it as far as you can and hopefully he doesn't touch it. If you feel like you can cover, then you probably cover. But it's going to be, even situationally, throughout the game it will change. You may go in saying, okay we're going to kick touchbacks and there may be a time that we want to hang it up. I think it will all play out that way, so we'll see how it goes.
Q: Technique-wise, just to get back to Sterling for a second, how different is it from catching a pass to fielding a punt or kickoff?
A: If you can track the ball, which he can, then, and you know they all have good hands and they can do it. When we got him out there, some of the young guys, the left foot punter is a little bit different because the of the spin coming off, but most guys are used to seeing the right foot spin. So he's adjusted well to it; he's really not had any major issues back there.
Q: On the kickoffs, you talked about in the spring you were doing research on it, what did you come away with?
A: You know, it's about four yards, take out the touchbacks maybe half a yard there. Our drive start, I think was 21.9, the last four years 22, something like that. So, it's three yards, and if you're playing a really good quarterback, I don't think you want to give it to them. The other thing is, you have to make sure you're staying onside on kickoffs, you don't want to have a touchback and the ball out to the 30 so there's some different ramifications to it. So we'll see how it goes, I think it'll be a game-by-game type of a thing, be ready to do both. And it's really not that much of a difference for us for how we cover kicks.
Q: You obviously only get so many special teams snaps in a preseason game, how do you balance between evaluating the guys trying to make the team and the getting the work for the guys, the core guys, that you know you're going to have?
A: It is a delicate balance because the playtime is not always equal, so a lot of the time the guys that have been primarily special teams guys the last two or three years, they're getting more offense and defensive snaps. So you try to balance it out that way as well. But you've got to see the young guys, I mean there's a nice group of young guys. The personnel guys did a great job with this class. From top to bottom, I think it's pretty solid as far as the undrafted guys and the drafted guys, so we're excited to see him play.
Q: You talked a lot about Geremy Davis and how he needs to learn on special teams, how is it going for him in training camp?
A: It's going well, I mean, he's done a nice job and I kind of single him out in meetings because he's got the skillset, but he'd never done it, so a lot of the time it's just in between his ears but now you see a greater confidence, I think both offensively and as a special teams guys, so now he's starting to play well.
Q: He had a rough indoctrination last year...?
A: He tried, he did well but it was just new. But once he started to kind of get the hang of it, he got replaced offensively, so he didn't get those snaps at the end of the year, which probably would have helped him. He's very willing, he's smart, and he really tries.
Q: How valuable is Dwayne Harris?
A: He's valuable. We didn't see much of the coverage because he was playing so many offensive snaps, so hopefully we'll get him back on kickoff and punts and playing at a high level. One of the things that really made him attractive to us was his coverage skills and his returning skills when we got him as a free agent.
Q: There's a lot of discussion about the kickoffs and the injury rate, and there's been a suggestion that if you start with the coverage team with a standing start it affects injury, are you okay with that?
A: I think everyone league wide, from special teams coaches all the way up to competition committee, the owners, we're all trying to find a way to keep it and to make it safe. Because there are some that are bad looking plays, so we're trying to eliminate those. Trying to do a better job of teaching how to block and how to take on blocks so we're not putting ourselves at risk. You know there's been a bunch of different things thrown out there, so we'd have to see how it would play out. We've done some things in practice and jog-throughs and standing starts so I don't think it would be, you know they if they took a 10-yard or 12-yard run up, down to a three-step run up, and it really didn't change it much so I don't know how much, there's still a lot of distance to cover and you can generate the speed.
Q: Do you have any ideas, where do you stand on the whole concept?
A: I'd like to try and teach it more safely to the blocking and tackling and see where we'll go with that. But there's really not one idea that's really struck that this would be the savior to it.