August 19, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Indianapolis Colts punter Pat McAfee (1) punts the ball against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Pittsburgh Steelers won 26-24. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE
I want to take this moment to apologize to former Colts special teams coordinators Russ Purnell and Ray Rychleski. I was hard on both guys when they coached in Indianapolis, in particular Purnell. Rychleski was a great guy to talk to when I got the opportunity, but it was obvious he wasn't ready to coach in the NFL. Using Football Outsiders system of ranking special teams play (which is really the only method we have available to do this), the Colts were 19th in 2009, Rychleski's first year. The next two, they were ranked 31st.
Thus, Rychleski is no longer a coach for the Colts. In fact, I've had sources with knowledge of Rychleski's tenure in Indianapolis tell me the man was updating his resume as early as 2010. Management did not think highly of him, and I always got the sense the feeling was mutual.
However, it's not like Rychleski's predecessor was much better. The Colts were 21st in '02, 14th in '03, 23rd in '04, 25th in '05 and '06, 32rd (aka, dead stinking last) in '07, and 24th in '08.
Two coaches. Ten years of bad special teams play. That suggests that the problem did not lie solely with them.
In a recent article by the Indianapolis Star's Phil Richards, new Colts general manager Ryan Grigson revealed that Jim Irsay charged him with improving the special teams.
"That is really a priority to Mr. (Jim) Irsay," Colts general manager Ryan Grigson said as he looked ahead this summer. "That’s something I really, really was striving for every day with building this roster. That’s something I really want evident from Day One."I want to see guys screaming down the field. You’ve got to have 11 guys with a couple screws loose and they’ve got to run down like their hair’s on fire."
So far this preseason, it seems have if the Colts have improved their punt coverage. The Steelers averaged one yard on two returns while the Colts averaged 9.5 on two as well. They also kicked a 53-yard field goal right before the half. Against the Rams, The Colts had one return for 6 yards. The Rams had no punt returns.
The only sore play involving special teams was a blocked punt in the third quarter of the Steelers game due, in large part, to bad blocking by
It will be interesting to see if the Colts special teams will improve under Ryan Grigson, head coach Chuck Pagano, and the two special teams coaches they hired: Marwan Maalouf and Brant Boyer.