The Washington Times-Herald

Indianapolis Colts

November 25, 2012

Colts need to improve on special teams



The state of the Colts' special teams units were once again brought into sharper focus during last week's 59-24 loss at New England. Patriots wide receiver Julian Edelman scored on a 68-yard punt return. Edelman also had a 49-yard punt return.
New England cornerback Devin McCourty, meanwhile, averaged 23.5 yards on four kickoff returns. MCourty has a long return of 29 yards.
For the season, Indianapolis is allowing an average of 25.3 yards per kickoff return and 13.7 yards per punt return. Conversely, the Colts are only gaining 19 yards on kickoff returns and 7.9 on punt returns. The disparity on the punt return and kickoff return averages between opponents and Indianapolis is one of a biggest in the league.
Colts interim coach/offensive coordinator Bruce Arians, as well as Maalouf, both recognize that there have been problems on special teams that must be addressed.
But there's the rub. How exactly how to do that remains the big question, especially when today's opponent -- the Buffalo Bills -- have three dynamic returners in cornerback Leodis McKelvin, wide receiver Brad Smith and running back C.J. Spillers.
McKelvin is averaging 28.3 yards on 16 kickoff returns. Smith's average is slightly better (28.7 yards) with less (7) returns and he has an 89-yard kickoff return for a touchdown. McKelvin, though, is also averaging 21.9 yards on 16 punt returns and has returned two for TDs, including an 88-yarder, so far this season.
“Yeah I think injuries have had an effect on special teams. We’ve had a lot of different guys playing over there. But that’s still no excuse for having a [punt] return [for a touchdown]. And we’re now facing the two best returners in the National Football League," Arians said late last week.
"We’ve got to [punt] the ball better too. We didn’t kick the ball as well as we’re capable of kicking it in that New England game. Pat McAfee has to have a great game in this game [against the Bills]. We’ve got to cover with our hair on fire because these cats will take it back in a minute.”

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