It was only a matter of time, right? We haven't discussed the special teams in a few weeks so we were due for this kind of performance. Tavon Austin received Special Teams Player of the Week honors after facing off against the Redskins. Let's take a look at how this happened.
1. On this punt, the Rams use two guys to block each gunner.
At the bottom of the screen, Akeem Davis is used as a bowling ball as he is pushed so far out of bounds he takes out people on the Redskins staff and/or cameramen. The gunner at the top of the screen tries to go inside and is carried all the way to the middle of the field where and has only made it about six yards downfield. Reminder, the gunners are the only ones allowed to pursue the returner before the ball is kicked. This obviously presents a problem.
Austin catches the ball with about ten yards of room. Not only that but the Rams have set up a return right and each of these four Redskins in pursuit have a Ram on their outside shoulder to seal them inside.
The only reason this return is not a touchdown is because these two Rams (red circles) managed to over run Darrel Young (yellow circle).
D.Young forces Austin out of bounds here after a 37 yard return.
2. This time the Rams put two defenders on Akeem Davis but only one on the gunner up top.
Besides one player (red circle), every other Redskin player is 20 yards away when Tavon Austin catches this punt. Is it really surprising that he got a 28 yard return squeezing up the sideline with this much room?
3. Once again, the Rams put two defenders on Akeem Davis and one down at the bottom.
Your eyes do not deceive you. Akeem Davis is blocked so far out of bounds the only thing that can stop him is a Gatorade cooler which he is now bent over and laying on. The gunner at the bottom of the screen takes a hard angle straight to the returner. The bottom of the screen is wide open but Ben Kotwica uses a guy inside the formation to wheel out and be contain.
On this play, that contain man is Darrel Young. He is not running towards the ball carrier, he is trying to get to a spot to force the return inside.
Tavon Austin catches the punt here and there is someone to seal off the only Redskins player within 10 yards. Towards the bottom of the screen, you can see Janoris Jenkins waving for Austin to come his way.
Darrel Young actually establishes the edge at first but when Tavon Austin gives a job step inside, Young also jumps inside allowing Jenkins to seal him inside and give Austin the corner.
I'll give Akeem Davis an A for effort. He went from the Gatorade cooler, to fighting through the players on the Rams sideline to coming down and trying to chase Austin down but couldn't catch him.
4. I can't do a special teams film breakdown without mentioning the failed 4th down attempt. This actually should have been terribly successful. Instead, it was just terrible. Tress Way is going to sweep right and Niles Paul is going to pull outside and be his lead blocker.
Niles Paul actually seals the defender inside and gives Way a huge opening on the outside. I don't know if Way didn't trust Paul's block or just wanted to channel his inner Alfred Morris/Mike Shanahan zone blocking magic as he sticks his foot in the ground and hits the cutback only to be tackled short of the 1st down.
Just for reference, this is the amount of room Tress Way would have had to work with. Paul does seal off this block but like Gruden said, Tress Way isn't a running back.
BONUS: Two Rams at the bottom of the screen on Akeem Davis. This matchup hasn't been favorable to him all game.
This doesn't go much different as Davis get blocked to the ground, ending up on his stomach on the Redskins sideline.
Akeem Davis gets up and uses every bit of his 4.35 speed to blaze down the field and nearly decapitate an unsuspecting Ram who had nothing to do with Davis's long day. A clear sign of his frustration. I was surprised the Ram player got up.
There's not much more that needs to be said. This is just another unit that is going to need a lot of attention this offseason.