Saturday, September 05, 2009

Why "staying in your lanes" matters

I was listening to one of the Dolphins shows on Friday afternoon, and Nat Moore was talking about the punt return for a TD in Thursday's game.
 
He thought John Denney stepped out of "his lane" to try and make the play, and instead allowed the TD.
 
I thought this was worthy of a little explanation. 
 
You see, the idea is that each of the players along the line of scrimmage on the punting team has a responsibility.  The "flyers" on the outside (ususally wideouts or defensive backs) need to get down the field and either make a quick tackle, or at least keep the returners to the inside.  Everyone else has a lane (kind of like a swim lane) that they are supposed to cover.  The idea is to surround the punt returner, and not allow him room to run; then the flyers can pinch in and everyone can close on the tackle.
 
Its a nice theory, but every once in a while, something breaks down.  In this case, John Denney (circled) moved over to the next area in an effort to make a tackle and "the big play"...only the returner made a juke step to his left then dashed back right to the area vacated by Denney, and there was no one between him and the goal.  Now to be fair, the punter also was out of position, but you can't expect the punter to make the tackle (its a nice bonus when he does, but don't count on it!)
 
So, had Denney stayed where he was, he would have caused the runner to hesitate, which would have probably ended the return quickly.
 
In the return game (probably more than anywhere else on the field), its teamwork that matters, and everything rides on each person doing their jobs.  Yes, having one guy who is the leader and makes more tackles and gets everyone fired up.
 
But, you still have to play together...
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