The Lions special teams have made a critical difference in the Lions success this season. I'll attempt to break them down into each area and hope you'll post your views.
Punt coverage: This has been the most improved area of the Leos special teams this year. Last year we were awful in this area, giving up a lot of huge gains. What's made the difference? One area has been improved talent and depth. Making the Lions special teams squad is a lot tougher this season. An example of this is Kelly Lockbaum, last years special teams captain, can't always get into the special teams lineup. A second reason is the willingness and desire of starters like Kidd and Floyd to play special teams, exell at them, and take pride in playing them. That kind of leadership has made a huge difference to the coverage unit. Thirdly, Duncan O'Mohoney's punting has been outstanding in terms of placement, allowing the Leos special teams to scheme their coverage.
The Leos are demonstrating a real pride in special teams and a professionalism to go along with it. Benevedes also deserves credit. Concepts like the Leos unit naming their own 'special teams' player of the week to sit in the lazy boy rocker adds fun and spirit to the unit.
Punt Returns. Aaron Locket may not be the most exciting of the punt returners in the league but is the most dependable and has break out speed.
Locket rarely has a negative gain, is sure handed, and doesn't turn the ball over. He's willing to take the ball straight up the field and if given space he can take it all the way. He's very, very good if they can get him in the open field.
Kick-off Returns. Antonio Warren isn't usually going to break a kick-off return all the way but he can get big gains and reads the field well.
Kick-Offs. The Leos made a decision, a couple of games back to put kickoffs back on the powerful leg of Brett Anderson. It's something we had been asking for on this website. It's resulting in deeper kickoffs and with good coverage on most kickoffs it's resulting in much better field position for the defence.
Areas To Improve:
Punt Returns. The Leos probably have not used the 'picket' line enough and got Lockett outside. Plagued with too many 'dancing' punt returners who only wanted to go outside the Leos focused on getting positive yardage upfield with Lockett. Most of their punt returns are designed to go upfield. It's probably been wise but the time to get Lockett into space and the outside has arrived. He is very good once he can get by that first wave and the open field, rather than quick changes in direction, is his strenght.
Field Goal Kicking: I won't spend much time discussing O'Mahoney's field goal kicking. We all know it's a concern at present. We also know he's only in his second year as a field goal kicker. Football 16 has done a great job ot providing insight into his practice program. O'Mahoney will be our field goal kicker for this season and we hope that he can become a consistent kicker for the remainder of the year. My only comment is that I've never been a big fan of the combined punter/field goal kicker position. I know its been done in the past successfully with excellent athletes like Passaglia but the norm at one time was to separate out the positions. Cutler only kicked field goals and there are many other examples. The NFL uses separate players as punters and field goal kickers. The limited CFL rosters and the desire to have the extra player on punt/kickoff coverage was a big factor in having the position combined in most cases. Unless I had that special player who could do both extremely well I'd much rather have specialists for both positions as long as they are both Canadian. While having the extra player for special teams is a positive I believe its more important to have excellence in both positions of punter and field goal kicker. We'll know more at the end of this season which direction the Leos need to go.
In summary improved special teams play is resulting in much better field positon for the Leos this season and playing an important role in our undefeated season.