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.”
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.
“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.