Cowboys' kickoff return team lagging

Cowboys' kickoff return team lagging

Credit: Getty Images

ARLINGTON, TX - SEPTEMBER 23: Felix Jones #28 of the Dallas Cowboys get tripped up by D.J. Ware #28 of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers at Cowboys Stadium on September 23, 2012 in Arlington, Texas. The Dallas Cowboys beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 16-10. (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

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by GEORGE RIBA

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WFAA

Posted on October 10, 2012 at 6:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Oct 10 at 9:34 PM

DALLAS –– The Cowboys kickoff return game hasn't been much of a factor this year.

"We've just got to get better," says head coach Jason Garrett. "We've got to return the ball better. We've just got to do a better job blocking, we've got to do a better job returning, and that will certainly help us move the ball better if we have a better drive start."
 
Before the 2011 season, kickoffs were moved up to the 35 yard line and that has changed the game.
 
In 2010, Dallas had 74 kickoffs returned with an average starting position of the 24 yard line, which ranked 28th in the league.
 
Last year, with kickoffs from the 35, Dallas returned just 33 with an average start from the 21 yard line. That ranked much higher at 15th in the league.
 
So far his year, 11 returns have had an average start of the 19 yard line. That ranks 31st or next to last in the National Football League.
 
"For the most part, it’s just hard to make sure that you're going to get a lot kickoff returns, that's the biggest factor and you've got to make sure you make good decisions on the ones to take out," says Cowboys special teams coach Joe DeCamillis.
 
Right or wrong, Running back Felix Jones has received much of the blame for the lack of success but you can blame the rule change as well.
 
"It all ties together," DeCamillis says. "We all wish we had more open space for him at the start of the play. We wish we had a couple of blocks back. I'm sure Felix wishes he would have left in there a couple of more times."
 
Each team has their own philosophy about how deep a kickoff returner should be before coming out of the end zone. Six yards deep is considered the deepest spot. Regardless of where they are, they momentum should be going forward.
 
"That's the biggest factor, we want to be catching the ball moving forward," DeCamillis says. "If you’re not, if you watch, if your feet are stopped, you’re not going to be in great shape there. We play Baltimore this weekend, I can tell you, they'll take it out nine deep."
 
"I think anecdotally, I see kick returns being more aggressive bringing the ball out," says Garrett. "I see guys at the minus eight, catching the ball going back, 'hey I’m brining the ball out anyway,' and that’s around the league."
 
Aggressive kickoff return teams can give a struggling team momentum. Right now, that's not the case.

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