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Better Know a Jaguars Coach: Special Teams Coordinator Joe DeCamillis


    Although regularly overlooked by the common fan, special teams consistently has been a hallmark of quality football teams, and can literally make or break a game. DeCamillis has been nothing short of a godsend for the Jags. He started his career at Denver, and moved to coach special teams under his now father-in-law Dan Reeves in NY. Afterwards, he jumped to Atlanta where he presided over a special teams monster for the better part of a decade. This man can flat out coach, and he’s got a reputation for doing so. 

So back to the special teams part. First, when I did a big feature a few years ago on coverage and return units, breaking down all the aspects of special teams that go overlooked, even I was overwhelmed at how much there was to know. And of the six or seven coordinators I talked to, the two who impressed me the most were Harbaugh and Joe DeCamillis, who is now with the Jaguars. Both guys sounded like head coaches. They know how to organize a disparate group of people, put them all together, motivate and establish order in chaos.

 This is from an article about Harbaugh and the Ravens written this year, and DeCamillis had enough of an impact on Ed Edholm that he puts Joe into the same category as the Coach he’s evaluating.  That speaks volumes about Joe’s ability to both communicate and coach. He's another coach who may leave for greener pastures in the future should the opportunity present itself.

 Let’s look at the playoff power rankings from 2006 when the Falcons were in the playoffs and Joe was the special teams coach. His unit was a major part of their campaign that entire season and had been solid for years by that point. 

1.      Falcons — Ranked No. 1 in both punt-return average and coverage. Nobody makes as big of a special teams commitment as special teams coach Joe DeCamillis. It can be the forgotten part of the team, but has been a real key to helping the Falcons to 11 wins.

 Here we see more praise heaped upon a DeCamillis coached group. This guy is a special teams coach , but he gets credit like he’s leading an all star offense. Talk about impact coaching! 

RETURN MAN : Of the five assistants Mora retained, special teams coach Joe DeCamillis was the most important for the new staff. DeCamillis is exceptional at finding flaws in opponents' schemes and formations. Last year's 14.3-yard average return, a team record, was as much due to DeCamillis' design as KR/PR Allen Rossum's effort. 

Here again, we hear about Mora’s pleas to keep him around. He knew his value. Here again there special teams is praised. The whole article is close to two pages, but here’s the best excerpt from the NY Times  piece. All these articles point to the same fact, this guy's a freakin' guru!

The Falcons special teams have become their trump card in the playoffs while special teams have become a ball-and-chain for other teams.

The Falcons led the N.F.L. in punt coverage (4.1 yards) and were sixth in kickoff coverage (19.9). Rossum was second in the N.F.L. in punt return average (12.4).

DeCamillis, a former Giants assistant under Reeves, had offers from numerous teams because he is regarded as one of the top special teams coaches in the N.F.L. The Falcons punt coverage team has allowed only 5.3 yards a return, which leads the N.F.L. in an eight-year span from 1997 to 2004.

There is one more article I dug up from the NY Times from back in 1994 , which is again very positive in its review of the coach. That is one thing I've noticed, no negative pieces on Joe anywhere. All the stories I've seen have been glowing in their overviews of Coach DeCamillis and he seems to have an uncanny ability to dissect and breakdown special teams. Everywhere he's gone, success has followed. The Jags are lucky to have him and he's the reason we don't have to sweat the Titans new KR who runs a 4.24.

...there is no question that DeCamillis's hard work in the off season has paid off. Perhaps no Giants coach has grown as fast as DeCamillis, the youngest coach on the staff at 29.

Who doesn’t remember the onside kick against the Texans during the fist half of our sixth game last season. It turned the whole game around and apparently; the call was all Joe’s. I like to see a coach who's gutsy, and it sure is comforting to know his unit was prepared enough to successfully run the play at the drop of a hat. Preparation is the key to superiority.

Obviously, Del Rio and his special teams coach, Joe DeCamillis saw as much because they decided the time was right to pull a surprise onside kick. Carney executed a run-alongside dribbler on which Carney dropped the moment it had gone 10 yards. There wasn’t a Texan within 10 yards when Carney dropped on the ball.

“We talked about playing to win; being in attack mode. We thought we had a shot to make a play there. ‘Joe D’ called for it and I OKed it,” Del Rio said of the onside kick.

The result of the Coleman reversal and the DeCamillis brainstorm was a two-play turn of events that turned a 6-0 Texans lead into a 10-6 Jaguars lead at halftime.

 Joe will be entering his second season with Jacksonville and we should continue to see improvement in his group. It isn't to much to expect a top 5 special teams unit this year as Joe typically demands more time be spent on them in practice than is commonplace. This work ethic is a large part of his success and it rubs off on his players.

 There were players who said last season that DeCamillis was too rigid and that he didn't have a true feel for the game. Some players thought they spent too much time on special teams in practice. No one is complaining now and many players say they have respect for DeCamillis because, they say, it's evident he worked hard in the off season.



Now, that's how you earn respect.