Lions Special Teams

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.

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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.

Blitz -“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.”

Although you have broken this down brilliantly, your summary says it all.

Upping the talent level on special teams and DO’s punting have been huge.

Agreed on Lockett. This guy is steady, trustworthy with the ball and going for positive yardage such that as you suggest “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 strenghth.”

Benevides does a good job at special teams. He really looks into his work at practice and games. He seems like a super decent guy when you watch how he interacts at practices with players.

Great stuff, Blitz. More later. Got to prep for a meeting with a client which is more challenging as the guy now wants to have lunch in a pub! I hate those places when you are going over consulting strategy and proposals. The bright side is that maybe a couple of drinks on me will increase the work from him…lol.

Pierce-I learned a lot about perseverance. Things aren’t always going to go your way. I’ve become so much more aware of the realities of the game and life…Things can be taken away from you. You can either sit back…or overcome it and fight through it…

As for the Lions, special teams is definitely the most improved aspect of their game. Special teams use to scare me last season especially on kickoffs or punts to the other team. Keep it up Lions

As for the Lions, special teams is definitely the most improved aspect of their game. Special teams use to scare me last season especially on kickoffs or punts to the other team. Keep it up Lions
I used to be scared #*#*less last year too Lionbacker. It's a great feeling to see the effort and the results on punt coverage....and the celebration of making a great tackle on special teams.

Football 16....your comments on Benevedes and the Leos focus on special teams in practice demonstrates that the Leos preparation in this area is a big factor in their results in games...I think fans are realizing how important this area of football is in the CFL!!

Blitz:

The attention to all aspects of the game at practice is key if you are to be successful in games as you know as a coach yourself.

My philosophy on this is twofold:

  1. your team's off field performance will mirror the on field performance always.
  2. you can expect what you inspect. I learned this from a long retired RCMP NCO who was clear that if all the big bosses inspect is the paper work, then it will be fine and the other will be crap.

The point is that how a team prepares and the importance placed on it mirrors how it will get played out. Like I said about the Lions practice after the FG kicker struggled was that it seemed to change when it came to the call for the FG. Pre-struggle for the kicker in games it appeared to be just part of the routine rather than a key component of team success. This is based on the number of kicks vs what happened just after where they took more kicks and varied the angle and distance a bit more.

Pierce-I learned a lot about perseverance. Things aren’t always going to go your way. I’ve become so much more aware of the realities of the game and life…Things can be taken away from you. You can either sit back…or overcome it and fight through it....

Lions kik @$$

Interesting article in the Vancouver Sun regarding special teams. The article discussed the Leos tendancy to return up the middle and to not run the picket fence and go wide except on rare occasions.

Wally mentioned that teams punt to the numbers, making the wide play more difficult. Also mentioned was the potential for losses by needing to back up to get to the wide side of the field.

However, Lockett may be the fastest returner in the CFL in open space. While the wide side punt return is more difficult now with punters focused on sideline placement and special teams coverage getting a lot of attention I still think the Leos could do more than just the middle return on most occasions.

Sometimes punt returns don't have to be set up for an oppositie sideline picket fence. Lockett could start wide, providing better angles for his blockers and then explode up inside. The concept is similar to a pitch or sweep running play, in which the running back starts wide and then explodes upfield rather than heading for the sideline....it's not a middle or a wide return but something in between.

It would enable Lockett, who is not a shifty punt returner like Ezra Landry, to have the ability to buy team to find a seam....when Lockett can find that seam he's really dangerous.