New Pittsburgh Steelers special teams coach Amos Jones will be getting some special assistance from head coach Mike Tomlin this week as the team looks to improve both their punt and kickoff units before the team faces the Denver Broncos in the season opener.
Through the first three preseason games the Steelers are averaging 3.2 yards per punt return and 18.6 yards per kickoff return. Those numbers have them ranked 28th and 31st in the league respectively thus far in the games that don\’t count. The other side of the ball is not much better as they have allowed 10.2 yards per punt return and 26.9 yards per kickoff return thus far in the preseason.
Tomlin fired former special teams coordinator Al Everest late last week in a move that reportedly wasn\’t related to performance of the special teams units. Regardless of the reason, there is one more preseason game left for the Steelers to figure things out, and Tomlin said after the Saturday night game against the Buffalo Bills that he intends to help Jones fix it.
Tomlin first said that he looked forward to accepting that challenge and moving forward with others in assisting Jones with special teams, but when asked if the help for Jones would come from assistants Jerry Olsavsky and Ray Jackson, Tomlin said, “No. It’s his show. Those guys have jobs to do. I am going to help a little bit more and I look forward to doing that.”
Jones was hand picked by Tomlin to be the special teams assistant when he was hired to be the head coach back in 2007 and Jones has several years experience coaching special teams at the college level dating back to 1990.
In the final preseason game against the Carolina Panthers this coming Thursday, Jones will have had over a full week to tinker with his units. It figures to be a good dress rehearsal prior to the opener in Denver and all eyes will be fixed on that phase of the Steelers game specifically as the dress rehearsal for the offense and defense took place in Buffalo.
Tomlin will surely be asked about the play of his special teams following this week\’s game and hopefully he be able to say that they truly were special.