Follow Up on Special Teams Concerns
- Checking the stats confirms how dreadful the Pats have been returning kicks and covering them this preseason. In the past few games, this has resulted in a lot of bad field position for the Patriots. Here are the numbers.
2010 Regular Season
Patriots: 22 yards per return.
Opponents: 22.5 yards per return
Brandon Tate: 25.8 yards per return
Patriots: 18.4 yards per return
Opponents: 27.7 yards per return
Brandon Tate: 17 yards per return
Additionally, Tate averaged an anemic 2.5 yards per punt return this preseason.
If you want to just compare preseasons, in the 2010 preseason, the Pats averaged 33.8 yards per return compared to this year's 18.4.
Remember, these averages just come from returns. They don't count touchbacks. IF we get similar results in the regular season, opponents will have little reason not to follow Detroit's strategy of kicking the ball high and just short of the end zone, putting the Pats inside their own 20 on a regular basis. Meanwhile, our opponents aren't having as much of a problem getting the ball outside their own 20. Even with Brady in top form, this could mean a long and disappointing season. Despite the rule change, kick returns and coverage STILL MATTER, and the Pats need to get better at both.