Punt Protection, Cruel Irony
Oct 8, 2012; East Rutherford, NJ, USA; New York Jets fullback Lex Hilliard (36) tackles Houston Texans wide receiver Trindon Holliday (16) during the first half at MetLIfe Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ed Mulholland-US PRESSWIRE
As we all know, Trindon Holliday impressed in the preseason returning kicks, but once the regular season started, Holliday severely underwhelmed Texans fans. Unfortunately that lack of performance caused him to be cut from the team as they needed to bolster the defense’s depth after several injuries.
The lack of consistent blocking on punt returns has been nagging at the Texans since last year. It caused another decent player to be cut and turned from fan favorite, to public enemy number one. We all know about the muffed punt that Jacoby Jones had that really “blew” the game for the Texans in the AFC Divisional playoff against the Ravens. That play undid all the progress in the eyes of the fans and really vilified him amongst the fan base. Fans adopted a mob-mentality, calling for him to be cut from the roster. Really, it was an overreaction, and despite that play costing the Texans the game, Jacoby should not have been cut. Jacoby was an amazing player and this two point conversion play really solidified him as a true Texan.
That play on Monday Night Football will be how I remember Jacoby Jones. I LOVED Jacoby Jones, and my heart truly does go out to that man for being dedicated to this team during his stint with us.
Unlike Jacoby though, Holliday really did not have much of a chance to earn the blessing and love of Texans fans, outside of the little playing time he got in the preseason. I did buy what he was selling during the preseason, as was obvious in the article I wrote back in August which you can see here. I think Holliday got shortchanged, he really did not have a chance at all. We almost set him up to fail because the blocking on punt returns is so sorry. It still is sorry as rookie Keshawn Martin is the punt returner and he’s having the same troubles as Jones, and Holliday. As soon as Holliday was cut, the Denver Broncos picked him up and for good reason. I suppose he had a case of the jitters as he debuted on Monday Night, in which he fumbled a punt, and Broncos fans were already jumping on the kid.
I seriously hope we can do something about the blocking on punt returns because it is a glaring weakness. I also seriously hope this does not come back to bite us in the bum during crunch time as it did last year. It can be fixed and we have a bye week to fix it. Obviously something has to be done if we throw THREE guys into a position and not one of them can find success, that type of statistical return just shows that it is not the returner’s fault that they cannot break any huge returns. Something has to be done blocking wise to protect the returners to at least give them a fighting chance to return the football and gain more than FIVE measly yards per return.
Special teams can sometime be a trivial task, but when it gets to the important games in the playoffs against the stingiest of defenses, every little bit counts and even a minuscule advantage could benefit a team. As we have all witnessed before, it could cost the team as a whole a shot at making their Super Bowl wishes come to fruition.
– Ricahrd Perez