Posted: Nov 11 2017, 11:10 PM
DSFL Volume 1, Issue 2
”Professional football’s only Special Teams focused publication.”
Thank you for picking up our newest release of The Specialist! In this issue, we add a new section “Predictions for the Week,” discuss the decline of Jimmy Darkapple, speculate on a trade opportunity, and much more!
4 weeks in, the Blues remain the only team in the DSFL with a special teams touchdown! In other returning-related news, they’re averaging 19.6 yards a kickoff return, and 11.9 per punt, third and first respectively.
When it comes to their kicking situation, Chicago apparently decided going into week 4 that they’d had enough of Chuck Shelton, and they put in their new kicker Peg Leg at the punter position, and wow, what a game he had. His first professional football game and he posts a 69 yard punt, and he averaged 48.8 yards a punt. Now that said, the reason I had an issue with Chunk last week was because the Blues had 4 kickers; for all my ranting, he actually played very well and was a strong contributor to their placement at the number 2 spot in the power rankings. In the one game he’s played, Peg Leg has been great, but only marginally better than Shelton. In other words, I believe we have a position battle on our hands! I think it’ll come down to how fast Leg progresses. If I had to guess, I’d say he keeps the starting job.
For kicking, Chicago has been... decent. Stephen Simpson is now 7 for 9 on extra points and 6 for 8 on field goals. The good news is that his 2 field goal misses were his two longest attempts. The bad news is that same thing. I don’t think you can call it just a strength issue, or just an accuracy issue, but he’s got to work on it (obviously). When you get to your opponent’s 35 yard line, you expect to score on that drive, but when your kicker hasn’t proven they can make a 45 yarder in a game situation, you start to wonder if you can trust them, or if you’re better off going for it on fourth down.
Kansas City Coyotes
I like Patrick Greene. He’s consistent, and some consistency is nice in this hectic world. “But writer...” you say, “Patrick Greene has missed 2 of his 9 extra point attempts.” Yes, that’s very true! But he’s made 8 of 8 field goals, and that makes his total kicking efficiency better than anyone but Dean Jackson, who is at 100%, but on half as many attempts. Right now, I am anticipating a good season for Greene, but I’d like to watch a few more games before I make any official prediction.
Punter Virgil Ferguson is like the anti-Greene. He’s kicked a 57 yarder twice now this season, but his average punt remains 37.3 yards. Let me tell you the distances on his four punts in week 3 versus the Luchadores (congrats on the big win, Coyotes): 57, 33, 30, and 40 yards. It’s like if Jay Cutler played punter. He has a smoke and then runs out onto the field and hopes he’s facing the right direction. He throws a perfect spiral, but he doesn’t know which team he’s throwing to. This is probably too harsh, but if I’m the Kansas City GM, I tell Ferguson to shape up or get out. Surely Greene can punt for a few weeks (or even the whole season) if he has to?
For returning, Kansas City is the worst... of the best. The bottom of the upper-pack, if you will. They’re doing well, but not quite as well as others. Their designated punt returner Andre Bly has nearly broken a return for big yardage several times, but hasn’t quite been able to turn the corner all the way yet. Watch him closely for the future.
You know, I kind of feel like I was too hard on Pythons kicker Adrienne Nugent last week. At the very least, he’s done some work at redeeming himself after a poor first two weeks. He started week 3 by missing a field goal against Norfolk with 26 seconds left in the half, but it would’ve been a monster kick, at 57 yards. Immediately after the failed attempt, free safety Z. Richter was able to intercept a pass by Wolverine Justice and with 3 seconds left in the half, Nugent sunk a 47 yarder. That would be the Pythons first and only score of the game in the blowout loss to Chicago, but that’s not the point: the very next game, Nugent also hit 2 more 40+ yard field goals successfully. Now, I’m conflicted here because while he’s decisively shown he has the leg strength and power for field goals, he has yet to sell me on his punt game. He’s definitely improved from when he was averaging just 36.7 yards per punt, now at 41 a punt, but is still second worst in that category.
As for the Pythons return unit, they’ve remained consistent on kickoffs! But... everyone else got better. The Pythons approximately 17 yards per kick return was near the top of league in the first two weeks, but is now second to last. As for their punt returning? Terrible. With 4.6 yards per punt return, they’re only better than Norfolk.
Speaking of the SeaWolves and punt returning! They average just 4.225 yards per punt. Not much to say there other than they have to improve. As time was running down in the third quarter of week 4, Portland @ Norfolk, T. Lonzac of the SeaWolves returned punts for -2, 6, and 4 yards. Except for the first, they were immediately followed by three and out (the first ended in a missed field goal, but we’ll get to that momentarily). While you can’t blame Lonzac for several dropped passes that occurred in that series, he has to do a better job; down 24-10, a team needs their returner to help them out. Norfolk’s blockers didn’t help much either, but I don’t have blocking stats for just special teams, so...
Anyway, as for kicking, Jason Jerek remains perfect at extra points alongside the kickers from San Antonio and Tijuana, but has only posted a 71.4% scoring rate on field goals. Compared to the rest of the DSFL’s kickers, he is astoundingly average. Mind-numbingly mediocre. So uninteresting I’ve given up on thinking of alliterations after just two of them. Then there’s the punter John Mueller. He remains solid at distance, but jeez, does that guy know what a touchback is? Over a league high (by a significant margin) 34 punts, Mueller has left just 2 inside the 20 yard mark. We get it man, you can punt. Now show us if you can aim.
San Antonio Marshals
Yeah, I’m just gonna go ahead and say it: I jumped the gun on Jimmy Darkapple this season. Are we sure this is still the same guy? Because watching him kick looks like I’m watching a high school kicker (well, not quite that bad). Interested in his nosedive, I myself took a dive into the record books, and here’s what I found for Darkapple:
NSFL Season 1: Played only as a punter (and was tied for the best, if not the best, punter that season).
NSFL Season 2: Missed the entire year.
DSFL Season 1: 22/23 on XP (3rd in the league by percent*), 26/30 on FG (3rd in the league by percent*).
*Excluding those with 3 or less kicks.
Okay, so he was never putting up record breaking numbers kicking the ball, but not terrible numbers either. This season he’s missed 5 of 12 field goal attempts, more than he did in all of last season; over these last 2 weeks, he missed more than he made. And the worst part? They’re not meaningless misses. Those misses are losing games. In week 3, Darkapple missed a field goal in the third quarter while the Marshals (his team) were down 17-0. Now, they staged a hearty comeback attempt in the fourth quarter, but can you guess how much they lost by in the end? 3 points.
I’m gonna take a side step here that applies not just to Jimmy Darkapple and the San Antonio Marshals, but to everyone:
Kickers are often overlooked because in an ideal situation, the offense would fly down the field every drive, and the kicker would only ever kick extra points and the kickoff. However, if we jump to the National Football League for a second (because it's been around much longer with a larger sample size), the top career scoring leaders are all kickers. To find a non-kicker, you have to go down to number 37 on the list, where Jerry Rice sits. You know, only the most prolific receiver of all time. Now, you can make the argument that kickers typically have much longer careers than other positions. Well, fair enough! Let’s look at who the single season scoring leader has been for the past few years. Turns out, the lead scorer has been a kicker every season since 2006, when LaDainian Tomlinson finished the season as lead scorer with 28 touchdowns on the ground and 3 through the air. The long story short is that the kicker is to the team as a putter is to a golfer. You can land the ball on the green in one shot, but if you can’t get it in the hole, you’re screwed.
Sorry for being long-winded, but to apply it to San Antonio: Jimmy Darkapple has to improve his game immediately, or San Antonio will suffer. And on to punting...
Last issue I said Shawn Guy was serviceable, but now I feel fairly safe saying he’s above average. Second in average punt length (45.8 yards) if you exclude Chicago’s newly introduced punter with just 6 punts, and third in “inside the 20” percentage, it has been nice to watch his growth, even just over these first 4 weeks.
Lastly, as for returning: they’re more elite than Joe Flacco coming off Super Bowl 47. They lead the league in average kick return yards and are tied for second in the punting equivalent, just 0.1 average yards behind the leader (Chicago).
Ah, Tijuana! Some interesting things to talk about here. First, Tijuana is second in the league in average kick return at 19.8 yards, behind San Antonio’s 20.8. In total return yardage though, they hold the number one spot. By a lot. Chicago is second with 333, while Tijuana has 475 yards. Tijuana’s returners have had to take the kickoff 24 times, 6 more times than the next highest. This doesn’t really reflect directly on the Luchadores’ special teams unit, but it shows the weakness of their defense and the amount of points they give up; this also is indicative of why they have just 5 punt returns, compared to a league average of 11.67 punt returns. At least they’re effective when returning punts, with 11.8 yard average (tying the Marshals for second).
And yes, Dean Jackson finally got his time in the spotlight! He’s now 5 for 5 on extra points, but more importantly, he kicked 4 for 4 successful field goals over the course of weeks 3 and 4! None were particularly long or short, all coming from between 30 and 39 yards out, but it was a solid showing; he was Tijuana’s only scorer in week 3. His punting has also done well. Though his average punt length remains middle of the pack, he remains as the leader in inside the 20 efficiency, and now has posted a new career long punt of 67 yards.
Special Teams Power Rankings
1. Chicago Blues ∆1
2. Kansas City Coyotes ∆1
3. Tijuana Luchadores ∆2
4. San Antonio Marshals ∇3
5. Norfolk SeaWolves ∇1
6. Portland Pythons ∆0
If Peg Leg continues to be successful, Chicago will have an abundance of highly effective punters, while Kansas City will have none. The two teams are in different divisions and don’t play each other again until week 14. Do I smell a trade...?
Specialist of the Week
For his 5 field goals this week, including a game where he was his team’s only scorer, Patrick Greene from Kansas City has been named the Specialist of the Week!
Play of the Week
The play of the week is Peg Leg’s 69 yard punt that not only broke records for punt distance, but left their opponent pinned at their own 3 yard line!
“Terrell Brister is the goat” -Terrell Brister
“Darkapple on a short leash as starting kicker? ... 7/12 on FGs” -@kckolbe
“Bly will get a special teams return (for TD) ... jk that’s not a hot take” -Andre Bly Jr.
Predictions for the Week
1. Jimmy Darkapple will miss 2+ field goals in week five against Kansas City, and the Marshals will lose by 7 points or less.
2. Patrick Greene will end week 6 as the only kicker with a 100% field goal success rate within the 39 yard line.
2,202 words. Ready to be graded
This post has been edited by bovovovo: Nov 15 2017, 07:03 AM
Posted: Nov 11 2017, 11:20 PM
"Do I smell a trade?" No we don't care about Special Teams. But nice article, loved reading through it
Posted: Nov 12 2017, 09:19 AM
Actually, we'd planned on starting Peg Leg since the beginning, but stuff in the sim was fucked up until we finally fixed it around Weeks 3 and 4.
No battle, Peg Leg is the starter.
Now talk about how Tegan is an awesome returner.
This post has been edited by Jiggly_333: Nov 12 2017, 09:20 AM
Posted: Nov 12 2017, 10:03 AM
run_CMC great article! It's worth noting that Bly Jr. has gotten a TD in roughly 70% of our test sims
Posted: Nov 12 2017, 11:48 AM
Posted: Nov 15 2017, 06:53 PM
But can he do it in a game when it counts? (Probably. Seems like it's less of an "if", more of a "when")
Good to know (about Peg Leg). As for Tegan, I'll be sure to mention her in Issue 3! Awesome? We'll see.....
|Mobile Version||Last Visit: --|