- Pope Francis named Time’s ‘Person of the Year’
- Ben Affleck: Fundraising for Democrats started to ‘feel gross’
- Vladimir Putin orders military to boost presence in Arctic
- Brooklyn, N.Y.: ‘Lesbian capital’ of the Northeast
- Elian Gonzalez: It’s America’s fault that my mother died
- India top court rules homosexuality is illegal
- Aaron Hernandez, ex-Patriot, on prison life: ‘I’m way less stressed in jail’
- Man pulled from water believed to be disgraced D.C. cop
- Kabul airport hit by suicide bomber who targeted NATO gate
- Space probe on course to land on mile-wide comet
Redskins’ special teams have new look after offseason changes
Ten special teams players sprinted to separate orange cones Burns had carefully positioned on the field minutes earlier.
“Let’s get it!” Burns shouted. “Get to where you need to be!
“Good! Good! Good!”
For the past nine seasons, special teams drills were among the most colorful portions of Redskins practices. Coordinator Danny Smith exuded energy in every way. His raspy voice echoed off the surrounding trees, sometimes featuring choice four-letter words. Smith bounced around the field like a popping firecracker as he chomped several pieces of gum. He was manic.
Earlier this offseason, though, Smith departed to join the Pittsburgh Steelers. Unit captain Lorenzo Alexander followed him out by signing a free-agent contract with the Arizona Cardinals. In a matter of weeks, the Redskins‘ two greatest special teams leaders were gone.
“Anytime you’ve been with somebody for a long time and you change little techniques or schemes, it takes some adjusting, I think, on both ends,” seven-year Redskins special-teamer Reed Doughty said. “Coach getting used to what we’ve been taught in the past and how to get us best on the same page, and same with us. Just figuring out his coaching style and finding out exactly what he wants. Keith has done a great job coming in.”
Their kickoff coverage unit ranked 18th in the NFL last season in opponents’ average starting field position. The kickoff return was 26th.
And return specialist Brandon Banks was deactivated for the final four games of the regular season and the playoff game because of ineffectiveness.
That’s all behind them now, though. Optimism abounds as Burns implements some new techniques.
“He blew me away in his interview — how organized he was and his teaching progression,” Shanahan said. “All a coach is is a teacher. He’s very organized with his thoughts. He has a very solid scheme. He’s got a lot of passion, enthusiasm for what he does, and that’s why we hired him.”
Burns, who attended Alexandria’s T.C. Williams High School, joined a coaching staff that includes three-year assistant special teams coach Richard Hightower. Hightower’s familiarity with players helps to ease the transition. The Redskins have not made Burns available for media interviews.
Tight end Niles Paul, Washington’s third-leading special teams tackler last season behind Alexander and Doughty, explained how Burns has assigned those on the kickoff coverage team different responsibilities than they had under Smith.
As a result, the Redskins will have four “people coming in hot to the ball making the play” instead of the two they had last season.
“It’s different rules,” Paul said. “You’re in different areas. Now I have the freedom to kind of roam, so I’m loving that one.”
Scheme changes have limited effects, though, as players so often said in defending Smith. Players ultimately are responsible for executing the scheme, which is why losing Alexander, a Pro Bowler, figures to be a significant detriment.
Doughty and others try to view his departure opportunistically.
“From my perspective, he was a one-man wrecking crew,” Doughty said. “He would make some absolute outstanding plays. We’ve got some players, I think, that are ready to step up and take a dominant role.”
“Maybe it’ll just be more of a team thing,” Doughty wondered aloud. “You might not see one person standing out, but I think we’ve all got each other’s back.”
© Copyright 2013 The Washington Times, LLC. Click here for reprint permission.
About the Author
- REDSKINS 2013: Breaking down the schedule, game by game
- NFL 2013: Ranking all 32 teams in terms of staying power
- REDSKINS 2013: Washington seeks staying power among NFL's elite
- With no blueprint, Redskin Hankerson seeks success as dad
- Redskins receiver Leonard Hankerson learning to manage family life with football career
Latest Blog Entries
By Donald Lambro
Growth spikes are little more than trend-free anomalies
- Teen thugs in DC run wild -- even while wearing GPS ankle bracelets
- New budget accord saves $23 billion -- after $65 billion spending spree
- Obama takes 'selfie' at Mandela's funeral service
- VEGAS RULES: Harry Reid pushed feds to change ruling for casino's big-money foreigners
- CARSON: Why did the founders give us the Second Amendment?
- Gov't Motors: Obama fudges math on auto bailout, $15 billion loss for taxpayers
- Somber duty: U.S. presidents in hot demand at Mandela's memorial
- FITTON: A closer look at the Benghazi lie
- American bourbon now better than Scottish whiskey: U.K.-born expert
- LAMBRO: The dark lining to the silver cloud of Obamanomics
Independent voices from the The Washington Times Communities
Helping the YOUniverse conspire on your behalf.
A column dedicated to discussing politics, national security, civil liberties, and education.
Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.
The “Silver Tsunami” created by aging Baby Boomers is hitting America. Let’s explore how we adjust to it, enjoy it and defy negative expectations about age.
White House pets gone wild!
Let it snow