If everything else fails, rely on the Special Teams?
It may sound crazy, but the effectiveness of Special Teams very much helps to determine wins and losses.
The New Orleans Saints didn’t want the outcome that played out in the 2016-2017 season. Among the shortcomings the team faced throughout the season, Special Teams was something they obviously need to work on.
Special Teams, just like the offense and defenses of the NFL, helps to determine the outcomes of games. Although Special Teams units might not win championships like various defenses do in the NFL, the presence of a good or bad Special Team’s unit is impactful.
Now the New Orleans Saints obviously don’t know how they’ll end up doing in 2017. The team on paper does look pretty decent, but at this point, the team’s success could go either way in 2017. It’ll be in part on the Special Teams, and the players that are on it, to contribute to help push the Saints over the top.
In this week’s article, I’ll be discussing the importance of Special Teams, the athletes, and what success for this group could mean for the New Orleans Saints in 2017.
The Saints had seven wins last season. The Special Teams, if successful, could have allowed the team to obtain more. Let’s take a look at some of the games the New Orleans Saints played in last season, and what impacts the Special Teams had in those games.
Week 2: New Orleans Saints @ New York Giants
If the special teams performed accurately during this game, the New Orleans Saints would have been 1-1 instead of 0-2. What essentially screwed the Saints in this game was the blocked field goal late in the second quarter. Giants DL Johnathan Hankins blocked the kick and CB Janoris Jenkins returned it for the score.
Many fans made the argument that Kicker Wil Lutz didn’t kick the ball high enough to pass over opposing linemen. Others argued that the Saints line protecting Lutz didn’t do a very good job. If the Special Teams played a better role in this game by blocking better and having Lutz kick higher the outcome for the Saints could have been different.
Outcome: Giants 16 / Saints 13
Week 10: Denver Broncos @ New Orleans Saints
The New Orleans Saints had this game just about had this game in the bag, just about. Unfortunately for the Saints, as the kick progressed, Wil Lutz didn’t have enough trajectory in his kick to surpass the opposing athletes. The Broncos blocked the kick and returned it for a touchdown. The Special Teams in this game could have essentially secured this game for the New Orleans Saints, but sadly did not.
Outcome: Broncos 25 / Saints 23
Although I’m not a writer who typically brings up the past, or “what could have been”, there is a lesson to be made from these examples. Special Teams obviously is an important part of a team. When a team in the NFL has a successful Special Teams everyone benefits. But when it doesn’t, easy enough wins, as shown above, become agonizing losses.
Let’s just get the facts out of the way folks. The New Orleans Saints have gone 7-9 for the past three straight seasons. The Saints haven’t won the NFC South since 2011. It’s been seven years and four months since the New Orleans Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl 44.
I’m not here today to tell everyone how long it has been since the New Orleans Saints have had success. If that were the case I wouldn’t be writing this article.
What I am trying to do is show how important Special Teams can be for a struggling Saints team. The Saints need a change if they want to start succeeding, and that success could come from having a proficient Special Teams.
Let’s take a look at some of the athletes that could help to make up a proficient New Orleans Saints Special Teams.