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Old 10-10-2013   #1
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Default Misery Loves Company: Penalties killing Rams' special teams

Seems like unbelievably horrendous play by the Rams STs, and a "feel-good" story for Texans fans going into the game Sunday..............


Quote:
October, 9, 2013
6:00 PM ET

By Nick Wagoner | ESPN.com

EARTH CITY, Mo. -- St. Louis Rams rookie Tavon Austin received a game ball for his efforts as a punt returner last week against the Jacksonville Jaguars though a simple glance at the box score would leave most wondering why.

That’s because Austin’s official stat line in returning punts doesn’t account for his team’s continued inability to execute special-teams plays, particularly punt returns, without a flag raining down on the field.

The Rams’ six special-teams penalties against the Jaguars cost them 125 yards of field position, bringing the season total to 17 special-teams infractions, one more than the offense and defense combined. Of those 17, 12 have come on punt returns and seven have resulted in half the distance to the goal yardage mark-offs.

Against the Jaguars, Austin had three returns totaling 81 yards called back for various infractions. He should have had 92 yards on his four returns but instead finished with a meager 15 for an average of 3.8 per attempt.

A clearly frustrated Austin left the locker room quickly after the game, eye black still visible. On Monday, Rams coach Jeff Fisher said he attempted to keep Austin’s spirits up, thus the game ball offering.

“Yeah, I gave him a special-teams game ball for having 91 punt return yards in the game,” Fisher said. “So, he’s happy.”

Asked if his ploy worked, Fisher said it did and that he also took some time to show Austin what his punt return numbers would look like were it not for the continued accumulation of penalties on his returns.

Fisher’s numbers would have Austin carrying a return average around 10 yards per attempt to go with 257 yards and highlighted by an 84-yard return for a touchdown that was called back. Austin’s current numbers fall well short of those lofty statistics as he has 57 yards on 17 returns, an average of 3.4 yards per chance and a long of 14. Fisher doesn’t believe the penalties on the returns would have affected Austin, making them all the more maddening.

It’d be easy to understand why Austin would be frustrated at this point with the continued penalties but he’s doing his best to be supportive of his teammates.

“The only thing that matters is my team, they keep on trying,” Austin said. “That’s the only thing that matters to me and I will do the same thing week in and week out and hopefully they’ll stand.

“We’re definitely getting better at it. We have just got to keep working, keep drawing up good schemes and hopefully our plays keep getting bigger and bigger.”

Of course, the special-teams penalty problems extend beyond just the punt return unit. Against Jacksonville, cornerback Brandon McGee ran into Ace Sanders, who called for a fair catch and cost his team 15 yards and cornerback Janoris Jenkins jumped offside on a field goal and an extra point.

Special-teams penalties aren’t new to the Rams under Fisher and special-teams coach John Fassel, either. In 2012, the team drew 25 special-teams flags, second most in the league. They had just three in the first five weeks last year and are clearly on a more alarming pace this season.

In looking around the league, it doesn’t appear there’s more of an emphasis on throwing flags on special teams. Rams opponents have been flagged eight times this year. Fisher hasn’t agreed with all of the calls going against his team, either.

“We have an unusually large number,” Fisher said. “We’ll get it corrected. But again, the confidence in the room -- the guys are good. I think everybody else in the world, after a long return, can look for a flag. We’re not going to because we’re not going to play that way.”

The most common thread among the flags is the relative youth of the players on those units. Youth is not an excuse but the Rams are working with mostly rookies or second-year players, particularly on punt returns. Many of those players don’t have a lot of special-teams experience.

Linebacker Ray Ray Armstrong, McGee and receiver Stedman Bailey have combined for nine flags and all three are rookies. While some advocate benching or cutting players to hold them accountable, that’s easier said than done given that Fassel doesn’t exactly get to pick and choose from the team’s entire pool of players for special teams.

Instead, Fisher is preaching consistency and confidence that as players mature they’ll get better.

“That’s just the special-teams world,” Fisher said. “I’ve got tremendous confidence in the whole group in the room and Coach Fassel. It’s very important to them. They work very hard. It’s going to turn around. We’ve got an outstanding returner and an outstanding scheme. We put each of the fouls in perspective, discussed them -- ‘How do you avoid them?’ whether in fact it was a foul or not. So, I’m confident that we’ll get it behind us.”

It’d be one thing if this was just a five-game sample size but including last year’s problems, it appears there’s a deeper trend forming. Of course, the numbers have grown worse this year so it seems unlikely that things will continue at this exaggerated rate.
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................With all that is the Schaub debacle, scrutiny of our STs have fallen off somewhat. Having read this article about how terrible it is felt that the Rams STs have played, the "feel-good" quickly leaves the building when you realize that the Rams STs is ranked 12 in the NFL...............and the Texans 31.


2013 FOOTBALLOUTSIDERS SPECIAL TEAMS RATINGS



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Old 10-10-2013   #2
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Default Re: Misery Loves Company: Penalties killing Rams' special teams

As I was reading it , I expected it to say "Penalties killing Texans not so special teams"


When's the last time they had a return that didn't have a block in the back or a guy run outa bounds .... or some other dumb mistake ?!
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Old 10-10-2013   #3
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Default Re: Misery Loves Company: Penalties killing Rams' special teams

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Originally Posted by Corrosion View Post
As I was reading it , I expected it to say "Penalties killing Texans not so special teams"


When's the last time they had a return that didn't have a block in the back or a guy run outa bounds .... or some other dumb mistake ?!



Typically that only happens when balls are kicked out of bounds
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Old 10-10-2013   #4
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Default Re: Misery Loves Company: Penalties killing Rams' special teams

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Originally Posted by Come On Breh View Post
im willing to bet their special teams coach hasnt been there for a damn decade fielding mediocre to poor special teams outfit year after year and is still able to keep his job.

A ringy dingy ding.............John Fassel (son of Jim Fassel) was made STs coach only last year.
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Old 10-10-2013   #5
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Default Re: Misery Loves Company: Penalties killing Rams' special teams

Our Special Teams penalty count is way down compared to last year. At least it feels like it.
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Old 10-10-2013   #6
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Default Re: Misery Loves Company: Penalties killing Rams' special teams

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Originally Posted by thunderkyss View Post
Our Special Teams penalty count is way down compared to last year. At least it feels like it.
That's not the fell I get. I can't give you specific ST #s, but last year, Houston as a team averaged 6.6 penalties per game. This year, 7.8 penalties per game.
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Old 10-10-2013   #7
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Default Re: Misery Loves Company: Penalties killing Rams' special teams

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Originally Posted by CloakNNNdagger View Post
That's not the fell I get. I can't give you specific ST #s, but last year, Houston as a team averaged 6.6 penalties per game. This year, 7.8 penalties per game.
ST penalties. Last year everytime there was a kick, there was a flag. More times than not, that flag was on us. So far this year, most kicks are penalty free & if there's a flag it's usually been on the other team.
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Old 10-10-2013   #8
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Default Re: Misery Loves Company: Penalties killing Rams' special teams

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Originally Posted by thunderkyss View Post
Our Special Teams penalty count is way down compared to last year. At least it feels like it.
That's cause our punter doesn't allow many returns and our returners fair catch more than their fair share.
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Old 10-10-2013   #9
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Default Re: Misery Loves Company: Penalties killing Rams' special teams

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Originally Posted by Corrosion View Post
That's cause our punter doesn't allow many returns and our returners fair catch more than their fair share.
Yep

But when other teams do PR it's a crap shoot if it will be a PR for a TD.

The Texans tried to fix the ST's problems by drafting an inconsistent FG kicker that has a big enough leg to prevent a KO return. Then they signed the best P in NFL history.

Despite doing all of this the ST's contributed mightly to the Baltimore loss.
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