Special Teams Coordinator Tom Quinn
November 25, 2016
Q: Did you chalk up the missed PATs last week mostly to the wind?
A: Wind and ball striking. You see it around the League, and I think that when that rule came out, we were all concerned about a day like that in the stadium. As it gets into November and December and it gets windy, that stadium holds wind better than the old stadium, so we have to do a better job of striking the ball, so that it doesn’t move as much.
Q: Were you surprised how many were missed around the League in general? Is there an explanation for it?
A: Missed, blocked. Teams are rushing it harder than they have and it is a tougher kick, but some of those were blocked, they all weren’t missed. But it is on the coaches and the teams to get that right. You have to have the points on the board because that thing sits there and stares at you.
Q: Do you like that rule?
A: It doesn’t matter what I like or dislike. It is the rule, so we play by it and we go.
Q: Do you think it has had a good impact?
A: Yeah. It has made it a tougher play. It has made it, I guess you could say, a more exciting play, so if you get the opportunity to block it, it has changed the game because if a team blocks it and returns it for two it is a deciding factor, [like was seen during] New Orleans and Denver [game], so it is a legitimate play now. You have to be able to protect it, kick it and make it.
Q: Was it not a legitimate play before the rule change?
A: Well, I think it was so close as a coach. You would see some that weren’t struck as well as they should have been and they were veering left or veering right and you are like, ‘If that was 10 or 15 yards further away, that might not have made it.’ But guys got away with it. The other thing people have talked about, I think there is some merit to it, is the sudden change touchdown, whether it is a kickoff return, punt return, now all of a sudden the kicker is scrambling to get his shoe on and he wasn’t in the net, so you have seen a couple of those. They used to be able to just go out there and mindlessly kick it, so they have to be focused. We have had that rule for two years, so we should be settled into it.
Q: Any concern with Robbie [Gould? It is a very mental position.
A: No, he is a veteran. He will bounce back. He struck the ball well today. I think it makes you look at it and make some adjustments, so I think he struck the ball well. We are always looking for a really good rotation, whether it is a snap, punt or kick. This practice field gives us more wind than we usually see in the stadium because there is more ground wind and it is wide open, so we should fare better.
Q: When a veteran has a bad day do you approach it differently?
A: Well, everyone is different in how you approach them. Some guys you jump them, some guys you put your arm around their neck. We looked at it, he looked at it before we even got to the meeting, and he knew what I was going to say and he agreed with it and we moved on.
Q: How do you think Dwayne [Harris] has played this year?
A: Up and down. I think he has pressed too much at times, tried to make too much happen. He made some poor decisions on fielding the ball which is something that we can’t have. I think he just presses and wants to do so much. I think last year he played a lot of offense, so it wasn’t as much of an issue, but there is a little too much pressing. I liked his coverage though. I thought he covered well last week.
Q: How do you address a guy when he is pressing?
A: Just talk to him. Tell him to just relax and let the game come to you. Make sure that we block better, but that is really the thing.
Q: The return at the end of the first half, was that what you were talking about with decision making?
A: No, it is one where he is not tracking the ball well or if it is a kickoff return, he is not catching the ball square coming out. That is the type of decision making, using the fair catch option when he has that ability, which he always has, so that he is not putting himself at risk for unnecessary shots.
Q: Do you think there are set rules on certain yard lines where you definitely don’t want him to catch it?
A: Well, we talk about the eight-yard line, but I think someone asked the question a couple weeks ago, ‘Do you catch it at the six?’ You kind of let those guys use their best judgment because a lot of times if you let it hit at the seven, it is probably going to bounce, and then if they do a good job downing it at the two or the one, you could have had the ball at the seven and then you back your punt team up. So we line them at the eight and then they use – if they go back to the seven we are not going to yell and scream at them for fielding the ball.
Q: Same kind of a play on kickoffs, as far as the end zone?
A: Not necessarily. It really has to do with hang time and the clock. But we want to be able to catch those square so that the timing - kickoff return is a lot about space and timing, and if you are not catching it square coming out when you should, then you are taking some false steps and that affects the timing of everyone’s blocks.
Q: Is that solely on him or does someone like Bobby [Rainey] need to help him out?
A: Bobby, a lot of times if there is an off returner back there, we want him to be the clear-thinking head on that.
Q: You have let up a couple big kickoff returns the last couple weeks. What do you attribute to that?
A: We just have to go faster. We have five or six rookies out there that have to step up. They are doing a good job, but I think sometimes they try to be too right. Sometimes you just have to trust what you see and just go and good things will happen.