You’d think it’d be as simple as throwing your hand in the air and hoping for the best.
It is, evidently, a little more complicated than that. In yesterday’s Coordinator’s Corner, Bob Labriola asked Pittsburgh Steelers special teams’ coach Danny Smith to break down what goes into a successful field goal block.
“Our hand placement has been outstanding this year. We’ve been close on a couple but close doesn’t get you a damn thing in the National Football League,” Smith told Labriola.
Smith then dove into what he meant when he said “hand placement.”
“Kickers will kick a low ball every now and then. Hits a guy in the head or the elbow, bounces off his shoulder pad, things like that. To me, that’s more the kicker than the block. Those things happen as well and obviously, we’ll take them however we can get them.
But to get an operation time [block]…and have good elevation, to get one of those plays, you have to have perfect timing. When you extend your hands, when you get your penetration, when you extend your hands. Is it right hand or is it left hand. It’s a skillset. We track where those balls are coming out of. Over the guard gap, over the center/guard gap. How they come out, based on the hash, middle of the field. It’s a complex play. Those are things we practice. In fact, we’ll practice that today. And set it up for how we predict it to happen this week.”
Very few of us, myself certainly included, know little about the intricacies of special teams. It’s why these sit-downs with Smith are so enlightening and it’s a credit to Smith for being so transparent about his knowledge and willingness to share his stories.
Cam Heyward’s block last Sunday was the first time the Steelers blocked a field goal since 2011, when Heyward was also on the blocking end. For what it’s worth, Sebastian Janikowski has had one kick blocked this season.