There is an issue with the Green Bay Packers‘ special teams unit and it has been an issue for multiple years.
Special teams are integral to the success of your team and while it may seem to be an afterthought in the minds of most sports fans, it plays a key role in field position for your team. Special teams create the opportunities to score points. The closer you are to the end zone, the less energy your offensive players need to exert to get there.
On the opposite side, the ability to close the ball inside the 20-yard line gives offenses less field position to work with. Many teams have had success because of special teams alone, which is why the Green Bay Packers should focus on improving this unit. Remember in the 2006-2007 season when Devin Hester single handedly brought the Chicago Bears to the Super Bowl on good field position and his ability to get through punting teams?
Amari Rodgers has a promising look to his return game, barring a few muffs he has almost lost. Kylin Hill was a hopeful addition to the kick returning squad, but the ACL injury he suffered in Week 8 against the Cardinals is a huge blow to the Packers and their ability to return kickoffs.
Sticking with these players will allow the Packers to have success in the long run as experience is a good thing and it will give them more confidence on the field. But, having returners that need to develop is not a good approach to special teams.
How can the Packers improve their special teams unit?
First, starting offensive linemen should be blocking on special teams as well, if they do, it will allow for less blocked kicks on special teams, which has been an issue this season. Secondly, The Packers need to focus on returning punts or fair catching them instead of allowing them to go.
Against the Kansas City Chiefs, the Packers had only three returns for 15 yards on six punts. Letting punts go instead of trying to fair catch them gives the punting team a chance to down the ball inside the 20-yard line. Every punt that wasn’t fair-caught was downed within the 20, making the Packers’ offense have more field than a fair catch would have. The Packers forced the Chiefs to four straight punt drives in the second half and they couldn’t capitalize on it, which led to the loss.
But there is promise, as the special teams unit has been up and down this season. There have been games where the special teams looked amazing, but the Chiefs game really showed the woes of the return team. Jordan Love was thrusted into positions that would have been difficult for any quarterback to make anything happen.
With the game against the Seattle Seahawks, once again, the problems with the special teams showed themselves. Multiple times the Packers were forced into bad field position by letting punts go instead of downing them. Although Amari Rodgers had a good return, not much was done on offense until the second half due to bad field position and a missed field goal from Crosby.
If Maurice Drayton cannot show change in the special teams he could be under pressure by the front office and someone else could take over his role.