Focusing On Special Teams

The Star-Telegram highlighted a few recently drafted Cowboys who they believe will make a significant impact on our special teams this season.

Jason Williams, linebacker - Tied an all-NCAA-division record by forcing 14 career fumbles while at Western Illinois. Williams excelled on special teams before becoming a full-time starter in 2006, when he earned the team’s Green Beret Award for his play on special teams.

Victor Butler, linebacker – Butler has an exceptional burst off the edge and very long arms. He blocked one punt at Oregon State and was close to blocking other kicks. His background as a prep wide receiver, safety, and kick returner reflects his athletic ability.

David Buehler, kicker- Had touchbacks on 55 percent of his kickoffs as a senior at USC. A rare physical specimen (6-2, 227) for a kicker with the strength (benches 225 pounds 25 times) and speed (4.5) to be on coverage teams. Backup on field goals to Pro Bowler Nick Folk.

DeAngelo Smith, cornerback/kick returner - Big-play performer at Cincinnati who had two interception returns for touchdowns, four fumble recoveries, averaged 20.8 yards per kickoff return and 9.5 yards on punt returns.

Staying on topic with special teams, Jean-Jacques Taylor reminded us why we need to beef up special teams and why Joe DeCamillis will make a difference.

The Cowboys’ special teams stunk last year. It’s an indisputable fact. That’s the reason Bruce Read no longer works in Dallas and among the reasons the Cowboys didn’t make the playoffs.  Who can forget the collapse against Arizona that began with the opening kickoff returned for a touchdown and ended with a blocked punt in overtime returned for a touchdown? Or the raggedy kickoff coverage that nearly resulted in a disastrous loss to Cincinnati?

Well, let me tell you, Joe DeCamillis is here to save the day.  

DeCamillis has spent his entire 21-year career coaching special teams for the Broncos, Giants, Falcons and Jaguars before arriving in Dallas a few months ago. He spent 10 seasons with Atlanta, where he worked with Phillips.

Josh Ellis of dallascowboys.com was very impressed with what he saw of DeCamillis at Rookie Mini-camp yesterday.

Special teams coach Joe DeCamillis again displayed the fire that has a lot of people around the team believing his units are poised from a big turnaround. The real test will be whether he can bring the same energy to the practice fields when the veterans are here.

I’ve been complaining about our special teams play for nearly three years now. For the first time in a long time, I am beginning to get some good vibes with this renewed focus on this important aspect of our team. I’m not ready to say we’re finally there yet, but I will say I am digging what I’m seeing and hearing about so far.

Till next time…