Falcons special teams coach credits kick, defends his players’ education

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While Falcons head coach Dan Quinn defended his special teams players for last week’s onside kick debacle, owner Arthur Blank said it looked like they didn’t know the rules.

Perhaps not, but it’s not for a lack of education.

Via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, Falcons special-teams coordinator Ben Kotwica said his players were aware, but not aggressive enough.

“There is a restraining area to recover a spinning football where there is a risk if they don’t recover it cleanly that gives the kicking team the opportunity to recover the ball because then it becomes a live ball,” Kotwica said. “We should have aggressively gotten on the football. Those are smart guys. They are intelligent. They are hard-working. One went to Yale, the other one went to [Virginia]. And so we should have aggressively gotten on the ball as it got close to the restraining line.

“I’m responsible for it. I’m responsible for everything the unit does and fails to do. It’s something that we’ve looked at. We’ve made the corrections. We’ve talked to the players. We’ll do a better job and look forward to Sunday’s opportunity.”

He was referring to Jaeden Graham (Yale) and Olamide Zaccheaus (Virginia), who were part of the group standing around watching the ball spin and roll, as the Cowboys recovered.

Kotwica offered no specific endorsements of Florida Atlantic (Sharrod Neasman) or South Carolina (Hayden Hurst); though we’re sure he meant no slight to those Ivies of the South, whose alumni were also circled around the ball.

He also mentioned that the way the ball moved was unlike anything he’d seen, referencing Zach Johnson‘s putt at last week’s U.S. Open golf tournament at Winged Foot.

“What I have seen is the ball placed flat and the ball kicked in different forms,” Kotwica said. “I can’t say that I’ve seen that specific one, where the ball goes parallel to the restraining line on the 39-, 40-yard line and then, like a putt, it wing-foots and starts going down the hill to the right.

“Can’t say that I’ve seen that. I’ve seen the ball go past the restraining line and come back to the left. I’ve seen the high hop. There are a handful of kicks that you’ve seen, but again, you have to give Dallas and Greg [Zuerlein] credit for that kick. If that’s on grass, I don’t know if that happens. That’s a smooth surface.

“There are multiple onside kicks that in my whatever years this is, I’ve seen, but that is as good of a kick as I’ve seen.”

HIs team’s coverage, however, didn’t make the grade.

13 responses to “Falcons special teams coach credits kick, defends his players’ education

  1. ok guys here’s the rule for accepting the kick, jump on ball at any time but before the other team does. Do you Yale and Harvard guys get this,?

  2. He’s right he is responsible. And for such a pathetic failing he should have been fired before the team ever left the locker room after the game.

  3. The Special Teams coach should have been fired after the game. It’s obvious that he did not remind the team of the rules. They even called a time out before the onside kick to huddle up on the side lines. This ruined the Falcons season. Inexcusable.

  4. It was such an amazing kick that a handful of Falcons could have pounced on it for about 3 whole seconds.

    But didn’t.

    THAT’S how good a kick that was.

  5. I try to keep my comments positive, since there is too much negativity in the world. It was just one play, the optics on it was bad but the coach is doing his best to put a positive face on it. The Special Teams did good most of the day, minus that one.


    His players were doing the RIGHT thing up until the 9 or 9 1/2 yard mark. It’s an illegal kick if the ball doesn’t travel 10 yards so you don’t want to jump on a bouncing, spinning football before that and making it a “live” ball.

    It was a beautiful kick and Zuerlein deserves full props for execution.

  7. If the players are unsure about fielding the ball, why not try to swipe it out of bounds with the hands? In any case, you need to make a play on the ball BEFORE it travels 10 yards. Do ANYTHING.

    For the crowd calling for firing the coach: we all make mistakes. Lets recognize that and hold the employment decision until after they demonstrate an inability to learn and improve. The truth is that one play alone did not lose the game. There were many other plays where they lost on defense.

  8. The receiving team can fallon the ball at any time only the kicking team has to wait 10 yards
    That was as poor a coaching job as you will ever see with a game on the line.

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