But maybe the bigger picture should be considered when it comes to figuring out who should share in the blame for the special-teams blunder in overtime for the Broncos.
How about special-teams coordinator Jeff Rodgers? So far, Rodgers has escaped scrutiny. Comments from Patriots receiver/punt returner Julian Edelman, while likely not intentional, serve to shine an indirect light on Rodgers’ possible role in the game-deciding turnover.
“Scotty [O’Brien], our special teams coordinator, puts us in the right position,” Edelman told reporters regarding his own duties when telling teammates to get away from a punt. “We’ll have a scouting report on where he’s going to kick it, and as a returner we always try to get the ball and if you can’t you have to yell a ‘Peter’ call and make sure your guys aren’t there.”
So if O’Brien deserves credit for putting his players in the right position, perhaps Rodgers deserves at least a little blame for the events that transpired when the Patriots punted high into the windy air and Carter was running in the general direction of the place where Welker was standing.
There are only two ways that things can go horribly wrong in that situation, when a tie seemed to be inevitable. Welker could have muffed the punt, or the ball could have hit someone other than Welker.
And so Rodgers should have impressed upon the 11 players on his punt-return team the importance of not letting either of the two bad things that could have happened happen. Maybe he did, but if he did he didn’t do it well enough.
In a bottom-line business, that’s the bottom line. While Welker and Carter deserve some of the blame, the man charged with putting them in the right position to not do the wrong thing didn’t get it done.