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06. State of the Colts Special Teams

Posted By: sherck

Key Special Team members on the 2017 Roster:
  $2.750m cap hit / 44 years old / PK / Adam Vinatieri
  $0.900m cap hit / 32 years old / LS / Matt Overton
  $0.540m cap hit / 23 years old / PR / Chester Rogers
  $0.465m cap hit / 24 years old / P / Devon Bell
  Neither of the top Kick Off Returners in Quan Bray or Jordan Todman are currently on the Colts 2017 roster. Bray is an ERFA and will return if the Colts want him while Todman is an UFA.
  First of all, I want to say “GOOD LUCK” to Pat McAfee as he makes the choice to end his football career, turn his back on probably over $30m in future earnings over the next decade and start the next phase of his life. I loved seeing your love of the game and your antics both on and off the field. You will be missed in the locker room I have little doubt. Hopefully, we can find someone that can come close to your on-field performance.
  Adam Vinatieri
  What to say about Iron Man Adam? On one hand, you could decide that he is on the downhill slide of his career since 2016 was his lowest completion percentage on FGs since 2012 at 87.1% (27 of 31).
  On the other hand, you could look to see that he was asked to try NINE FGs from beyond 50 yards and hit 7 of them as well as being asked to try 12 FGs from between 40 and 49 yards and hit 10 of them. Sure, he did miss 4 kicks this season but none were “chip shots” and none of them cost us the game since two were in wins (TEN #2 and JAX #2), a third was in a blowout loss (PIT) and the fourth was in a loss to HOU #2. The last one was the only one that might have changed the dynamics of the game but, honestly, our terrible game plan pretty much doomed us in that game.
  He was 44 for 44 on PAT attempts.
  Adam achieved what has got to be a career highlight in setting the NFL record for consecutive FGs at 43 breaking the old record set by the Colts liquored-up kicker who preceded him, Mike Vandershank.
  In addition, Adam has now kicked for the Colts for more seasons (11) than he did for the Cheats (10 seasons). He kicked a total of 263 FGs for NE and has now kicked 267 FGs for Indy.
  Adam has hit more than 87.0% of his FG attempts in 6 of his 11 seasons in Indy. 4 of those 6 seasons have come during the last 4 seasons (87.5% in 2013, 96.8% in 2014, 92.6% in 2015 and 87.1% in 2016).
  Adam is not getting older…..he is just getting better.
  I see no reason to think that there will be a letdown of his abilities in 2017 based on his 2016 performance. Sure, with Patty Mac retiring it means that he will have to get used to a new holder and that dynamic could make things different for him but he has had a lot of holders in his career; breaking in one more will not be difficult for him.
  2017 is the last year on Adam’s current contract.
  Matt Overton
  No sure what to write about him. I cannot remember an errant long snap in, like forever. No snaps over the head of the punter. No snaps rolling back to a placekicker’s holder. Nothing.
  And, that, is probably a pretty good thing. Every week in the NFL there seems to be a “misadventures in the kicking game” play that usually sets the other team up in good field position. I cannot remember the last time on a kickoff, PAT or punt that we had a misadventure on a bad snap.
  Is playing your LS $900k of cap space good team management? I have no idea but I do know that it is small potatoes if the alternative is even only 2 or 3 plays during the course of a season that result in bad snaps in order to save cap space and sign someone at player minimum.
  Matt is signed through 2018 season.
  Chester Rogers
  UDFA who joins during Training Camp, finds his way onto the 53 man roster and looks the part of both a NFL Wide Receiver as well as a Punt Return man. He is probably not the next Devin Hester but…..
  His 9.2 yards per punt return average ranked 15th in the league for returners who had at least 10 punt returns on the season. His two returns of 20+ yards tied for 12th in the league. Only 5 guys ranked ahead of him had less fumblers (0) then the one that Chester had this year.
  He had a few boneheaded returns where he either fair caught the ball when he should have let it bounce for a potential Touch Back or where he let it go and probably should have Fair Caught it but, overall, he was a pretty solid / good Punt Returner as a rookie.
  I don’t know about his experience or desire to be a Kick Off returner in 2017 but I feel pretty confident about his abilities as a Punt Returner next season. I am looking forward to everything Rogers brings to the field next year and am hoping that he can make a high 2nd year leap.
  Devon Bell
  Signed on the 7th of Jan to a futures contract, Bell is the only guy on the roster at the moment with punting experience….college punts experience because he has not kicked at all in the NFL.
  [quote] Bell was originally signed by the Detroit Lions in 2016 as an undrafted free agent out of Mississippi State, and he was with the team in training camp and preseason before he was waived on August 29. In college, Bell played in 50 games and filled a number of roles, as the punter, kicker, and kickoff specialist. He averaged 42.4 yards per punt on 83 career punts, and he was 20-for-36 on career field goals (55%). As a senior in 2015, he served primarily as the kickoff specialist averaging 62.1 yards on 80 kickoffs with 33 touchbacks, though he also averaged 41.1 yards per punt on nine punts.[/quote]
  I don’t love that he was pretty much demoted as the primary punter his senior year. I like that he is both a KO guy as well as a punter but I cannot image that Ballard will not bring in other folks to compete for the punter position.
  We may be looking at the beginning of having to carry 3 kickers on the roster again as Adam clearly does not want to be a KO guy again and if the punter we end up with is not a KO guy as well…..
  2017 OUTLOOK:
  Need a punter and a KO Returner (and possibly a KO Specialist). The KO returner is probably pretty easy as there are always folks on the roster that did it in college. The punter, however, is a bit harder to find.
  There are only 3 punters who are UFAs this year: Shane Lechler, Britton Colquitt, and Jeff Locke. There is also two RFA punters: Colton Schmidt and Jake Schum.
  01st Gross Average / 03rd Net Average / 18th in Fair Catch / 27th inside 20 / 36th Touchback / Pat McAfee
  07th Gross Average / 17th Net Average / 27th in Fair Catch / 09th inside 20 / 11th Touchback / Shane Lechler
  19th Gross Average / 15th Net Average / 10th in Fair Catch / 22th inside 20 / 07th Touchback / Britton Colquitt
  32nd Gross Average / 26th Net Average / 05th in Fair Catch / 05th inside 20 / 11th Touchback / Jeff Locke
  34th Gross Average / 30th Net Average / 29th in Fair Catch / 26th inside 20 / 11th Touchback / Colton Schmidt
  30th Gross Average / 25th Net Average / 16th in Fair Catch / 27th inside 20 / 17th Touchback / Jake Schum
  Of the choices available, I would probably choose Jeff Locke (MIN) age 28 to go after. While is appears to be that he does not kick the ball long (32nd in Gross average, 26th in Net Average), he only averaged 3.7 yards less net average than Patty Mac did this season. His short punting accuracy with forcing Fair Catches, hitting them inside the 20 and avoiding touchbacks is fairly impressive all things considered.
  MIN has plenty of cap space and he is young for punters so it would shock me if they let him hit the open market but if they do, then he would be the guy I think the Colts should target.
  There are a couple of guys in college that will probably be given a shot but we are probably looking for someone who is just better than JAG (Just Another Guy).
  Next Up = Defensive Line
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