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Osgood job is to leave Bolts well positioned

Discussion in 'American Football' started by Johnny Lightning, Aug 25, 2008.

  1. Johnny Lightning

    Johnny Lightning Go Bolts

    Feb 7, 2006
    By Kevin Acee

    August 25, 2008

    When Kassim Osgood was a rookie in 2003, undrafted and trying to make the Chargers roster, veterans used to get angry at him because he ran so hard down the field covering every single kick in practice.

    Five years later, Osgood is a two-time Pro Bowler for his work on special teams, and his type of effort is expected from every player, young and old.
    “Coaches and the players, we take pride in it,” said special teams standout Carlos Polk. “ ... It's about want-to. You've got guys like Brandon Siler, Tim Dobbins – all three of us are trying to beat Kassim down there to make a play before him. It becomes a game within a game.” For that, the Chargers are much improved on special teams, by many measures among the best such units in the NFL. We've created something here,” Osgood said. “People get in there, see the competition and get into it.”

    As the Chargers play the Seattle Seahawks tonight in their third exhibition game, the focus will be on the starters on offense and defense. But as the days before Saturday's final cut to 53 tick off, special teams is where the difference often is made in making a roster as talent-laden as the Chargers'.
    “There are so many big plays we made on special teams (in 2007), so many hidden yards on special teams that contribute to playing good defense and playing good offense,” coach Norv Turner said. “So it will be a big part of our decisions.”
    As undrafted rookie Mike Tolbert moved up the special teams depth charts, in addition to playing prominently at fullback, it became obvious he would make the final roster. Even high draft picks Antoine Cason and Jacob Hester play on special teams. There are only 45 active players each Sunday, so players have to be able to contribute on the kicks.
    Current starters Stephen Cooper, Clinton Hart, Shaun Phillips, Andrew Pinnock and Matt Wilhelm spent years on special teams.
    Other guys will make the practice squad because of their enthusiasm for and ability playing the special teams. It's a big reason Jyles Tucker stuck with the practice squad and then was promoted in '07.
    While young players have roles on special teams, it is the depth of experience that makes the Chargers' kick units so good.
    Polk, a seven-year veteran, third-year man Dobbins and Osgood are almost exclusively special teams contributors. So too are Siler, in his second year, and Steve Gregory, in his third.
    All-Pro cornerback Antonio Cromartie was a starting gunner on punt coverage through his record-breaking '07 season. Fullback Pinnock and tight end Brandon Manumaleuna are part of the wedge on kickoff returns.
    “We've got a number of veteran players,” said Steve Crosby, the Chargers' special teams coach and the NFL's Special Teams Coach of the Year in 2007. “Because of that there is quite a bit of concern about how everyone else plays. We have a standard here we're trying to keep up. They understand what that standard is, and they don't want to lose that.
    “It's taken a few years of experiencing that. You start with one or two or three, then you've got five or six and then you've got seven or eight and they're on the same wavelength.”
    Osgood said it will be “hilarious” how good the Chargers' special teams are in 2008 because of that experience. That would be something, since they were among the best in the NFL in '07 and have improved steadily under Crosby the past six seasons.
    The Chargers led the league with six special teams takeaways last season. They also scored five special teams touchdowns.
    Punter Mike Scifres (with help from Cromartie and Osgood, among others) had 36 of his 81 punts downed inside the 20, the best ratio in the league. Just 29 of his punts were returned. The kickoff coverage team was one of just five such units to have fewer than half its kickoffs returned for 20 yards or more. The Chargers' 25.5 average on kickoff returns ranked third in the NFL, their 8.8-yard punt-return average 15th.
    What this kicking game prowess does is make the jobs of the offense and defense more conducive to success.
    It's the three phases working together.
    The Chargers' offense had to drive 60 yards or more for scores just 57 percent of the time, fourth-lowest in the NFL. Chargers opponents started 53 of 185 offensive series inside their own 20, the second-highest ratio in the league.
    “The hidden yardage,” Osgood called it.
    “The way it is now, with games being so close,” Crosby said, “more often than not it's going to be a special teams play that makes the difference.”
    In one of the most crucial victories of 2007, Dec. 9 at Tennessee, what the special teams did was as important as LaDainian Tomlinson's winning 16-yard run.
    The Titans forced the Chargers to punt at the end of the first series of overtime. Scifres' punt from the Chargers' 47 bounced inside the Titans' 5 toward the end zone. A flying Osgood reached the ball before the goal line and flipped it back to Cromartie at the 2.
    As Cromartie held the ball, Crosby turned to Turner and said, “Coach, the game is over.”
    Six plays later, it was.
    No one on the Chargers mentions special teams without mentioning Osgood. An erstwhile receiver, Osgood is a special teams superhero. Not only does he make other players better, he makes their stats better. Osgood , however, will never approach Hank Bauer's team record of 52 special teams tackles because of what opponents do to him – double-and even triple-team him. Siler led the Chargers with 21 special teams tackles. Osgood was second with 14, Polk and Dobbins tied for third with 12. “You can't really scheme us,” Polk said. “You double Kassim, you got Tim, Siler or me down there making a tackle.”
  2. Osmekaman

    Osmekaman BoltTalker

    Jul 1, 2008
    I love what i'm hearing from these guys - not a prima donna amongst them.

    Even Kassim, who as we all know expressed a desire to move on before TC, has knuckled down and hasn't allowed his WR ambition to get in the way of the team goals this year.

  3. Thunderstruck

    Thunderstruck BoltTalker

    Aug 16, 2006
    Kassim tore it up in the passing-game once again today. I don't know why the Chargers don't consider him a wide-receiver prospect.

    Oh, wait, that was Floyd. Kassim's the guy who dropped yet another preseason pass.

    If Floyd's doing as well on special teams as it is being suggested, there's almost no reason to keep Osgood around.
  4. TheLash

    TheLash Well-Known Member

    Aug 8, 2006
    saw at least one clank off his hands tonite I thought.

    glad he knows his job and is good at it.
  5. Osmekaman

    Osmekaman BoltTalker

    Jul 1, 2008
    There's a difference between doing well on special teams and being a triple-teamed Pro Bowler.
    The point of the article was how much of an impact these guys are having on overall team performance.
    He may suck at WR, but I bet the Bolts value his ST contribution.
  6. WonderSlug

    WonderSlug Well-Known Member

    Sep 1, 2005
    Not as much anymore since there are now two more that seem to be able to do ST just as well: Floyd and Gregory.

    Gregory has gotten a nice contract extension. They wouldn't be giving him one this close to the start of the season unless he was shining on ST and backup secondary.

    Floyd's actually performed well on the offense when given a chance, unlike the other 6' 5" WR who whines better than he catches. In addition, Floyd has now become a top ST gunner and is moving up the kicking team ranks. He also has received effusive praise from Norv.

    All this spells doom for Osgood. Pro Bowl, shmo Bowl. Hanik Milligan went to a Pro Bowl a few years ago and was cut a few months later.

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