Thursday, June 28, 2007

Ravens Special Unit in Mid-Season Form

We often hear about how much more effective Steve McNair could be this season than last given his year of experience in the Ravens’ system and his familiarity with the offensive cadence and terminology. And then of course there’s a greater degree of comfort that now exists with his teammates that was nothing more than a goal one year ago. This season, McNair will have a better understanding of how Mark Clayton might read a particular coverage and where he can expect to find him given the call, down and distance. And Clayton is just one of many.

The repetitions create a comfort zone, the comfort zone breeds confidence and confidence, success.

But such patterns aren’t limited to just offense and defense. They also project well to special teams.

Last year was the first year for Special Teams Coach Frank Gansz, Jr. and obviously the first exposure for most of his players to Gansz’ approach to special teams. Most were accustomed to the philosophies, terminology and style of former Special Teams Coach Gary Zauner.

In ‘07 there is reason to believe that given the depth on the Ravens roster and their familiarity with Gansz, that they should improve upon their special teams’ ranking of No. 10 in ’06. According to Ravens’ long snapper Matt Katula, Gansz’ unit is well ahead of the game.

We are all excited about the [unit]. Frank Gansz is excited about it. Katula added, “Mini camps were flawless. They were great. We felt awesome about it. Last year was the learning curve. [Now] we are in mid season form.”

Backup safety and special teams’ ace Gerome Sapp shares Katula’s promising outlook.

“We’re looking for an amazing year this year. We’re going to be competitive and Gansz will stay on us. Fans are going to be thrilled to see us this year.”

Roster depth doesn’t just mean that a team has good backups. It means that those good players will push those in front of them to be better and they will battle to show well on tape so the coaches take note. They will fight and scratch and claw their way to secure one of those valuable 53 jobs on the Baltimore Ravens roster. And when they do, Gansz’ unit becomes more dangerous and more effective giving the offense a shorter field and the defense a longer one.

And that adds up to digits in the “W” column.


Anonymous said...

Special Teams is important! I think this year is going to be great because Koch can now do Kick-off duties; saving Stover legs for for Field goals. We even have a more real competition at Punt Returner.Maybe Figurs can do Kick Off returns because of his speed and Sams can do Punt returns because he is shifty and lets face it he doesnt flinch. He must have ice running through those veins.

Tony Lombardi said...

The Ravens will have some very difficult roster decisions to make, one of which will be B.J. Sams. Given the depth of the roster I don't think that they can afford to keep Sams just to return punts. He doesn't contribute anywhere else on the field. Figurs is a third round pick and as a result, he stays unless he flat out falls on his face IMHO.