With everyone more than joyous over the news of special teams coordinator Tom Quinn staying put, there is still someone that can deliver every single day: New York Giants’ third-year punter, Steve Weatherford. While the man, the myth and the legend remains 99% positive on the daily, he does speak the truth — especially when speaking about the 2013 in retrospect.
“It’s disappointing because we had high hopes, especially with the Super Bowl being here and as much talent as we had on this team at the beginning of the year,” Weatherford exclusively told Giants.com. “But I’m proud of this team because with all the injuries we’ve gone through, starting the season 0-6 and finishing the season with winning seven of our last 10 games is encouraging.”
Weatherford also doesn’t feel as adverse to Quinn’s return as most. It’s easy to make one person a scapegoat for an entire unit.
“We didn’t take care of the ball as well as we wanted to earlier in the season, and special teams definitely hurt us with punt returns,” Weatherford said. “We had three of them this year, and that’s something I take pride in — in the previous seven years in the NFL, I gave up one. To give up three this year was really frustrating because Tom Quinn does such a great job in coaching us up. We fought, and there’s a lot of pride on this team. I think starting 0-6 and finishing the way we did says a lot about our locker room, a lot about the leaders.”
Weatherford is, in part, correct. Injuries played a huge part in the special teams’ downfall, but not all. Human error played the remaining role. Fumbles, botches, mental mistakes and multiple turnovers were almost comical at times — if you weren’t about to break something. Coaching should take part of the blame as well. The ever-struggling Giants offense didn’t assist the third unit as the 31-year-old punted 91 times this past season. The closest he came to that was in 2010 when he punted 84 times. That was when he was still with the New York Jets.
In 2013, he averaged 46.9 yards/punt (68 yards was the longest) with 25 of those 91 going inside the 20, and nine inside the 10 (seven were touchbacks and 17 were fair-caught). Aside from a couple of bad games, the punter wasn’t the problem. Unfortunately, the stat that rings out will be those returns for touchdowns. They were game- changers. While Weatherford himself did improve after his few poor games, he, much like quarterback Eli Manning, looks at himself for need to improve. He even called the season “mentally taxing.”
For this entire unit to improve, Weatherford needs help. At this moment, his kicking counterpart is unknown. Kicker Josh Brown is a pending unrestricted free agent and the team has brought in kicker Brandon McManus on a Reserve/Future contract so far. The other 10 (well, nine if you count Zak DeOssie in already) that will rotate in on the field at the same time is yet to be determined. For now, Steve Weatherford has his own plans.
“I’ll spend a lot of time with my family. They’ve missed me over the last six months, and I haven’t been the most pleasant guy to be around,” he said. “It’s been a very mentally taxing season for me. So I’m just daddy day care. I’m looking forward to it.”
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