The Giants special teams are going through a rough patch this season, giving up big plays on punt returns and not making anywhere near the impact they made on kickoff returns in 2012.
The Giants have given up three punt returns for TDs this season and 408 yards on 20 returns, which is the most in the league. Their 20.4 yards-per-attempt is 31st overall. Only the Redskins are worse, with at 21.6.
The addition of Josh Brown has helped the Giants’ kickoff coverage. He’s only allowed only 9 of his 27 kicks to be returned. On the kicks that were returned, the average attempt went for 24.3 yards.
Behind rookie KR David Wilson, the Giants led the NFL in kickoff return yardage in 2012. This season they’ve dropped to a distant eighth with their longest return going for 46 yards. Once again, the punt returns have flat. The average return is only going for 6.3 yards, ranking them 23rd in the NFL in that category.
But what is standing out the most are the ongoing failures of the punt coverage team. Special teams coordinator Tom Quinn was asked what went wrong Monday night when Minnesota’s Marcus Sherels returned a Steve Weatherford punt 86-yards for a TD.
What happened on the punt return for a touchdown last week?
What went wrong? We didn’t get good releases as the gunners and we didn’t get great releases up front. We have to sprint faster to the ball and squeeze to the ball. We have to make the play on that guy.
What do you mean by squeeze to the ball?
The ball is kicked to the right, we have to squeeze to the right. We can’t have everyone going down the middle of the field. We have to go where the ball is kicked.
On the kickoff return, did the fact that it was so deep, did the guy slow down a bit?
They didn’t slow down. We knew the guy was an excellent returner. Had an opportunity with our L3 to make the play, he’s got to lay out to do it. I don’t know if he would have made the play, but he probably would have drawn the penalty because he did have his hands on his back. He didn’t do it. Two and the one have to take care of it and we have to get that done. A couple of guys lost leverage and he’s got the build. He’s running full speed, he puts his foot in the ground and he came out full speed the other way. He’s an excellent returner. We did not do a good job on that one.
Has there been a common denominator in these returns you have given up?
It’s always something different, so you’re shuffling guys in and out and trying to find solutions that way. There are not that many guys to do that with. They’ve all been different circumstances and it just hasn’t been good enough for anyone. We’re all embarrassed by it.
How tough has this been on you?
I looked last year and you guys didn’t have any returns.
No, Pittsburgh had one, so it’s frustrating. It’s not what our expectations are. It’s not what the organization, the team, mine, Larry’s (Izzo), anyone. It pisses you off and I hope it pisses everyone off in this building. To take away a shutout from the defense, that hurts. How many times do we get opportunities to do that? So, it’s frustrating.
Did you think Damontre Moore was clipped on the touchdown?
No. That was a good block.
Is it unusual to use a defensive lineman as a gunner like that?
A: It is very unusual, yeah.