Special Teams Coordinator Brad Seely
Last week, Oakland Raiders special teams coordinator Brad Seely appeared on Movin' the Chains with Jim Miller and Pat Kirwan on SiriusXM NFL Radio. During his time on the air, he delved into some of the nuances of special teams' play in 2016, as well as how some of the new rules have affected his coaching style.
Here are the quick hits from his time on the air.
**Seely shared his thoughts about the touchback rule changing in 2016, and how it will change what he does on kickoffs.
"It will entice us to [kick the ball to the goal line]. Now, the question is, can you? What you've seen here recently is all our kickers – the guys who are kicking it away – are now kicking it down the middle, and they're kicking it out of the end zone, or deep in the end zone, and the ball's going to the 20-[yard line]. It's hard to put the ball right on the goal line. We tried to do that this spring, and we have one of the best kickoff guys in the league in Sebastian Janikowski. We're playing with some wind behind us, man, that's hard to do, and still continue to have hang time because he's trying to place the ball. Now you're talking, maybe you want guys to directionally kick the ball more, and a lot of guys nowadays, they're not good at that, because they haven't had to do those things. I think it would behoove us to kick it shorter, because if you look, there are only a couple of teams that averaged to the 25-yard line."
The changing touchback rules will also change how Seely coaches up his kick returners.
"It'll come down to who is our guy, and how good is he, and how much leeway we'll give him. We got a guy, Taiwan Jones; he led the AFC in kickoff returns last year. He's good and he's fast, and I'd like to give him those opportunities to make a big play, but if he catches the ball stepping backward past five [yards] deep in the end zone, I'm going to coach him up to take a knee. You have to take the knee, because like you said, 30-yard returns, those are good, but they don't happen that often. I think the line of demarcation, where you're going to bring it out from, is going to move closer to the goal line."
He also spoke about the importance of directional kicking and controlling leg strength.
"The guys nowadays, has been up to this point is, how big of a leg do you got? Let me get that guy who has that huge leg that can kick touchbacks. Now all of a sudden, a touchback isn't necessarily a good thing, so there's a lot of guys that have to learn some stuff."
While the kickoff has changed in recent years, Seely still believes it's an integral part of the game of football.
"This is a play that there's a lot of big bodies running into each other from a great distance, so as special teams coaches, we've been working on trying to change the rules a little bit and tweaking them, and talking to the NFL about, how can we make this a safer play going forward, but not eliminate it. We don't want to eliminate this play because you guys well know, shoot, it's one of the most exciting plays in football."
The changes to the extra point have now added another dimension to the play.
"I think that it's made the play harder for us, offensively, and it's made it a play defensively, where you can make plays. We led the league this year in blocked kicks for PATs and field goals, and I think we got four of them on PATs. Shoot, that changes the game immensely."