Sunday, September 02, 2007

The REAL Concern with Special Teams (and it's not Rocca)

Rocca or Johnson? Nah. What Heckert said about Rocca's upside being better than Johnson's makes perfect sense; the guy really has a Steve Austin leg (not as in "Stone Cold" but as in Six Million Dollar). And while Dirk had a good preseason, I tend to put more stock in his performance all last season, which was below average. Sav beat out Dirk fair and square, and that's not a big deal. The real concern is our snapper, Jon Dorenbos.

Just rocketing the ball backwards isn't enough. Judging from the preseason, Dobby flubbed quite a few snaps, including the one that cost us the easy Akers FG in the 1st quarter of the Jets game. And from what I remember, the second FG attempt -- where Akers was able to get his foot on the ball but missed the uprights -- was the result of another poor snap that Rocca wasn't able to set in time for Akers. Sure, Rocca can share some blame on that one, but it all starts with 'ol Dobby.

To recap his humble career: He was signed by the Bills in 2003 as an undrafted rookie free agent, and snapped for the full season, as well as 13 games into the 2004 season, until he was placed on IR with a knee injury. When he came back for the 2005 season, he was dropped by the Bills after camp, and was unemployed until he found a job with the Titans in mid-season. In 2006, he apparently didn't even attend any team's camp, and just snapped for the Titans for a single game. After Bartrum went down with a neck injury in the Indy game last season, Dobby was plucked out of retirement to finish the season, and retains the starting job for this season. Yet again, our arrogant coaching staff believes they can take any undrafted free agent and magically transform him into an NFL starter.

Perhaps they were hoping Dobby would magically transform by himself, like an obedient house elf. As most people know about him, he's also a professional magician. According to the Eagles website, he has even performed magic "in front of" Lindsay Lohan and Garth Brooks. I'm glad that Big Red hasn't held that against him. Although I'm not so sure I can say the same thing. And Dobby even has an entry on Wikipedia. In true informative Wikistyle, it purports that he "is a big fan of decks. His favorite brand is Trex." (I assume this is a joke. ...Altho composite decking materials do certainly hold a ton of advantages).

So how important is snapping? Well, as far as long-snapping, last regular season Dirk punted a total of 78 times, ranking the Birds 14th overall for number of punts. However, we were only 24th in total yardage. (See above, why Rocca won). As far as short snaps, Akers attempted 71 place kicks (18 for 23 FGs, and 48 for 48 PATs). We were tied for 6th in the NFL for FGs attempted, but get this -- we were tied for 30th for total FGs made.

So many things need to go right with punts, and even more with FGs. But it all starts (literally and figuratively) with the snap. We've definitely been spoiled with Bartrum, who was as automatic as they come. Sure, Dorenbos sounds like a good guy, and is probably a great Quidditch player, but so far he has not inspired too much confidence and hasn't proved he can do the job with any degree of the consistency that we need.



Blogger Paulomon Grundy said...

Kicking has been something that we've done well since Akers came of the few things we have done well consistently in fact. I haven't seen much of this guy, but sounds like he could be a problem for us. New holder, new snapper. I don't like it..well, not that we need to worry about a playoff run this year. If you need to know how important snapping and holding is, just ask Tony Romo.

9/03/2007 11:58 PM  

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