Nov 3, 2013; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys receiver Dwayne Harris (17) celebrates his game winning touchdown in the fourth quarter with head coach Jason Garrett against the Minnesota Vikings at AT

Looking at the Underappreciated Dallas Cowboys Special Teams

While the Dallas Cowboys offense and defense languish under the persistent microscope of Cowboys lovers and haters, the often forgotten Cowboys Special Teams unit this year has been a solid contributor on a number of fronts.  While it is easy to point at the outstanding play of two-time Special Teams Player of the Week winner Cowboys Wide receiver Dwayne Harris to mark the success, there are a number of contributing factors to peruse.

Remember that Dallas hired former University of Auburn running backs/special teams coach Rich Bisaccia to replace former coach Joe DeCamillis back in January of 2013.  The 2012 Cowboys special teams were anything but special, and the club felt the need to go in a different direction.

On special team’s ace Dwayne Harris, he returned one punt for a touchdown and leads Dallas’ fifth overall ranked team kickoff return yards with 723 while averaging 28.9 yards per kick, which is good for second place league wide.  On punt returns the Cowboys are tenth best with 257 and average third best in the league at 14.3.

Dec 23, 2012; Arlington, TX, USA; Dallas Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey (5) kicks off the game between the New Orleans Saints and Dallas Cowboys at Cowboys Stadium. The Saints beat the Cowboys 34-31 in overtime. Mandatory Credit: Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

On the opponent’s side the Cowboys special teams are the eleventh ranked kickoff return team allowing just 429 yards with a 21.5 yards per kick average.  On the punting side the team has allowed only 177 yards with a low 7.1 per punt average return.  The Cowboys have not allowed either a kickoff nor punt return for a touchdown this season.

The field goal unit led by Cowboys kicker Dan Bailey has also been solid this year making 17 out of 19 attempts for a thirteenth ranked 89.5 average.  Bailey’s field goal consistency is something head coach Jason Garrett regularly touts as a team strength.

Punter Chris Jones has the eleventh ranked 41.8 net average per punt, and ranks third in the league with 23 punts downed inside the 20 yard line, making him a great field position weapon against Cowboys opponents.  I would be remiss if I did not mention Cowboys long snapper L.P. LaDouceur who has been perfect on the season.

While the Cowboys have many questions and concerns on the defensive and offensive sides of the ball, the steady play of the special teams have been mercifully forgotten and have had a nice impact on a number of games this season.

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Tags: Dallas Cowboys Dan Bailey Dwayne Harris L.P. LaDouceur Rich Bisaccia

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