Extra Special, Special Teams
Montell Owens (Getty Images)
Montell Owens (Getty Images)
Editor-in-Chief
Posted Sep 30, 2008
Charlie Bernstein


Through the first month of the regular season the Jaguars have had issues from time to time moving the ball on offense, and shutting teams down on defense. What hasn’t been an issue for Jacksonville has been Joe DeCamillis’ special teams unit.

The Jaguars special teams appear to be one-upping themselves week after week. Kicker Josh Scobee has hit 10 of 11 field goals including two game-winners. Punter Adam Podlesh has looked considerably more comfortable then a year ago, as his average is up by nearly three full yards over his rookie year. The kickoff coverage team is ranked as the best in the NFL as they allow just 16.9 yards per return, and undrafted rookie Brian Witherspoon has been a great surprise as he’s handled both kickoff and punt return duties, averaging nearly 30 yards per kickoff return and 15.8 yards per punt return. Witherspoon is currently ranked fourth in the league in kickoff returns and third in the league in punt returns.

“I’m predominantly a special teams guy, but with the Jaguars, big plays can happen on special teams, just look at (Josh) Scobee the last two weeks with game winning field goals so big things can happen on special teams,” said special teams ace Montell Owens.

The Jaguars special teams units ruled the day against the Texans, as they throttled Houston’s explosive return man Andre Davis, who returned not one, but two kickoffs for touchdowns against the Jaguars in last year’s regular season finale. Davis was held to just 13 yards per kickoff return Sunday.

“We knew it was a challenge, first of all, understanding that they’ve got good teams, they’ve got good returners, and that was a challenge going in,” said Jaguars head coach Jack Del Rio. “Certainly pleased with that but there were also some things that we need to do better, even in a phase when we come out of the game saying yeah, that was a good solid performance. There are some things we need to clean up.”

Aside from doing each of the little things to near perfection, the Jaguars special teams units have been tricky as well, recovering a surprise onsides kick already and scoring a touchdown on a fourth down fake punt by special teams ace Montell Owens.

“Montell continues to be a force for us covering kicks, blocking, doing all the little things and then (he) made the great play on fourth down where we went for the fake and made it work and he really did a nice job of running the football there,” Del Rio explained.

A few years ago, the Jacksonville Jaguars were losing games because of poor special teams coverage and no explosive return ability. Special teams were truly a weakness for the team, but under special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, the Jaguars special teams unit has done a 180 and is now amongst the best in the NFL.



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