In the ever-changing NFL, where trends come and go, where innovation is used to help fuel the desire to get the competitive edge, a certain drill conducted during a Pittsburgh Steelers training camp practice earlier this summer seemed a bit much, even for cutting-edge coaches.
|The Steelers give extra attention to special teams -- and so does every other NFL club. (Getty Images)|
It was then, while watching that drill, that it hit me: The NFL has gone special-teams mad.
Yes, special teams are important. But do they need to take up 25 minutes in every practice and have entire sessions during camp dedicated to kicking and punting the damn ball?
"It's amazing how much we do now," Houston Texans head coach Gary Kubiak said. "It used to be the assistants used to coach special teams. Now it really is specialized."
Once upon a time, a line coach or a secondary coach would help. Sometimes, it was even a head coach.
Now, a lot of staffs have a both a special-teams coach and an assistant special-teams coach.
Special teams are out of control in the NFL.
One of the prevailing theories as to why is that special teams are a third of game. But it isn't even close.
"Yeah, but the coaches think it is," Dallas Cowboys coach Wade Phillips said.
The reality is that it's about one-seventh of the game. We'll do the math:
Offensive and defensive teams in the NFL averaged 62.5 plays per game last season. In the AFC, offenses averaged 61.8 offensive plays per game, compared to 63.1 offensive plays per game for the NFC.
On defense, AFC teams averaged 62.3 plays, while the NFC defenses averaged 62.6 plays per game.