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Special Teams Report: Planning for Hixon, Thomas

The schedule was unusual because of Saturday's snowstorm and this week's game being on Monday night, so Special Teams Saturday with Lorenzo Alexander this week is Special Teams Sunday with Lorenzo Alexander/the Snowpocalypse Edition. In this installment, we take a look at New York Giants punt/kickoff returner Domenik Hixon and examine how Devin Thomas might fare in his first game returning punts.

Few players this season have been as effective as Hixon in the return game. The fourth-year wide receiver has a 15.5-yard average on 15 returns (he has 14 fair catches), including a 79-yarder for a touchdown. He also has a 23-yard average on 42 kickoff returns with a long gain of 68 yards.

Hixon ranks 10th in the league with 966 kickoff return yards and 25th in average. He does not have enough punt returns to qualify among the league leaders.

"They have Hixon back there, and I didn't know he had the same type of production numbers as DeSean" Jackson, the Philadelphia Eagles' star returner, Alexander said. "Obviously, he's doing a great job. He's a shifty guy and real slippery.

"He's made some big plays getting out of some things, so we're just going to have to corral him this week and get him down on the ground. It's going to be a good challenge for us."

Because of Antwaan Randle El's lack of productivity throughout the season, Coach Jim Zorn said he plans to have second-year wide receiver Devin Thomas involved on punt returns for the first time and top wideout Santana Moss's roll will be expanded. Thomas has impressed late this season on offense and kickoff returns since he supplanted Rock Cartwright as the primary returner. He has shown a nice burst on kickoffs and the Redskins are confident he could be effective on a limited basis as a punt returner.

"Each guy has their own type of style and mentality on how they return the ball," Alexander said. "But as long as guys get on their blocks, open things up and make things happen, it really doesn't matter who's back there."

Steinberg on ESPN's reports

Because Dan Steinberg of the D.C. Sports Bog is nothing if not always on alert (he's like NORAD), he pays attention to the stuff sports pundits say on TV and the radio. Today, he reports on what ESPN types are saying about Mike Shanahan and the Redskins.

By Jason Reid  |  December 20, 2009; 9:47 AM ET
Categories:  Jason Reid  
Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati   Google Buzz   Previous: Redskins ready despite unexpected day off
Next: Devin Thomas' study habits bring results


"You must be a democrat, no personal responsibility for the players at all. It couldn't possibly be their fault they suck. You can't coach crap, at best you get a polished turd. I don't care where these db's (dooshbags) were drafted, that was bad scouting and poor placement. Landry is out of position and we've heard the coaches constantly talking about how he needs to stop going for the kill and just make the tackle and yet he does the same stupid crap every game. Maybe you are suggesting that Grey should play for him because he certainly can't make Landry do what he's supposed to.Posted by: scampbell1975"

Number of problems with this post. A few:

1) Landry's out of position because the coaching staff put him there. And they put him there because they thought they had no one better. He's guilty of offering too much run support. But then, the Skins haven't stopped the run too well this year -- check the stats.

2) There's plenty of talent in the secondary -- as a group. But each seems to have a particular flaw. Some miss tackles; some miss interceptions. Some follow big plays with stupid mistakes (Kareem Moore). They're still often without a shutdown corner, which puts more pressure on the others.

3) The secondary doesn't get a lot of help from the linebackers in coverage. Orakpo is still out of position. London Fletcher is a tackling machine but a relative struggler in pass protection.

4) When the line gets pressure, the secondary immediately looks better. Pressure was the problem in '08, and despite the improvement in sacks, from time to time has been a problem in '09, too. If you watched NO-DALLAS last night, you saw what pressure does to a great QB.

5) The improvement in sacks, by the way, is always at least partly attributable to really good coverage in the secondary. Just as the improvement in INTs this year is very much the result of games with improved pressure from the line.

Not much reasoning in your post, scampbell. Maybe that's not your strong point.

Posted by: Samson151 | December 20, 2009 8:08 AM | Report abuse

Maybe you missed the point samson. We were arguing about who's responsibility the poor play of the secondary is...not why. Maybe getting the point isn't your strong point.

Posted by: scampbell1975 | December 20, 2009 10:08 AM | Report abuse wideout Santana Moss's roll will be expanded...

Game check by game check, his roll expands.
Or are you implying he's gaining weight?
Or even that he does a bit of holiday baking?

Posted by: daggar | December 20, 2009 10:18 AM | Report abuse

Agreed. He had a fair shot, and he still hasn't even won as many games as Spurrier did. Time to move on.

Posted by: League-Source

without the Spurrier reference it read like you were referring to Jason Campbell. JZ needs the same amount of time given to him the JC has received. IMHO

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | December 20, 2009 10:32 AM | Report abuse

and other trapezium krau..Positive vibrations from the Redskin Park this week, though the Skins are supposed to wait until the off-season for the Big Danny Whalesplash Signing,,It does sound better than the snow bombing my satellite shack from the cedars above..Fortunately the pallet of Bud was space-dropped from orbit just seconds before the White Terror struck- the trenches are dug and the artillery pieces in place for a fine NFL Sunday..But, can we lose the Scientology ads on the tube, please, pack of loonahs posin' as a government cult, yeesh..But, Tom does get points for once being married to the Goddess Nicole..All I want for Christmas, Satan, I mean, Santa, is Nicole Kidman, Beetlejuice Winona or some other gothic Japanese cheerleader on a leash, oi!! and god bless the dead..

Posted by: frak | December 20, 2009 10:50 AM | Report abuse

JZ needs the same amount of time given to him the JC has received. IMHO

Posted by: 1965skinsfan | December 20, 2009 10:32 AM

He probably does need that much time -- or more, but I don't think any team will give it to him. Only two guys in the league who ever thought he was HC material are Snyder and Cerrato, and now they've changed their minds.

Posted by: League-Source | December 20, 2009 10:51 AM | Report abuse

Pre-vacancy Rooney Rule interviews don't work for coaching jobs
Posted by Mike Florio on December 20, 2009 10:30 AM ET
On Saturday, we reported that the Redskins already have interviewed defensive coordinator Greg Blache for the head-coaching position currently held by Jim Zorn. Later in the day, Jason Reid of the Washington Post, after duly dropping a D.C. Steamer on our Blache report, wrote that secondary coach Jerry Gray has been interviewed for the head-coaching position.

Regardless of whether either or both report is accurate (we stand by our Blache report, and we've heard rumblings that Gray was also interviewed), the Redskins won't be able to pull the 114-minute presto-change-o with Zorn and his successor by pre-complying with the Rooney Rule, which requires at least one interview of a minority candidate for every head-coaching vacancy.

The key word, as it relates to coaching jobs, is "vacancy."

"The rule presumes a vacancy," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello told us via e-mail.

In other words, interviews of minority candidate(s) conducted before the coaching job is open don't count.

So how were the Redskins able to pre-comply with the Rooney Rule before Vinny Cerrato resigned as executive V.P. of football operations?

"The current rule as it applies to GMs is not as specific as for head coaches," Aiello said. "We will review it going forward to determine whether modifications are warranted."

To put it less tactfully, the Redskins found a loophole when it came to making the switch from Cerrato to Bruce Allen. But that same path won't be available to the Redskins when it comes to Zorn; they have to comply with the Rooney Rule after the head-coaching job has come open.

Though it might be easy to satisfy the requirement by having Blache and/or Gray return for a "do you still want the job?" follow-up session, there's a chance that Blache and/or Gray eventually will decide not to participate in a sham process -- just like Redskins play-caller Sherm Lewis did nearly seven years ago, when the Lions dumped Marty Mornhinweg with the sole intent of hiring Steve Mariucci.

Posted by: 4thFloor | December 20, 2009 10:52 AM | Report abuse

Mike Florio opinions = power rankings

Posted by: League-Source | December 20, 2009 11:00 AM | Report abuse

Information please. Who was the last NFL coach to win a championship with a different team, more than a decade after his first championship?

Posted by: Keyskonnection | December 20, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

study beeps

Posted by: RomoLongballs | December 20, 2009 11:19 AM | Report abuse

Information please. Who was the last NFL coach to win a championship with a different team, more than a decade after his first championship?

Posted by: Keyskonnection | December 20, 2009 11:02 AM | Report abuse

In 1980 Dick Vermeil lost the Super Bowl as coach of the Eagles. He won it in 1999 while coach of the Rams. But that's as close as I can come to answering your questions.

Posted by: mmeixler | December 20, 2009 3:18 PM | Report abuse

Also: Holmgren won Super Bowl XXXI as coach of the Packers (and lost XXXII). Then as coach of the Seahawks he lost Super Bowl XL.

Posted by: mmeixler | December 20, 2009 3:25 PM | Report abuse

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