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 Post subject: Hoffman info
PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 10:53 pm 
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clipped from another site, so I am unsure of where it ran--

Steve Hoffman strolls off the practice field, a video camera in one hand and a young kicker hanging on his every word. They're chatting about the subtlest of techniques. They're discussing the mental challenges of handling a solitary job in a team sport. They're talking about what it's going to take to be Hoffman's next star pupil. You see, if you're a no-name kicker trying to make it in the NFL, Hoffman is the guru. "Teams don't want to spend a lot of money on kickers," said Hoffman, the Falcons' new assistant special teams coach. "But they want a good guy at that position."

Hoffman's background is as varied as the kickers he brings in. He has a bachelor's degree in economics and a masters in sports administration. He punted for the long-forgotten Washington Generals in the USFL. He spent one season as a high school coach. He even went to Italy for a couple of years to work with fledgling teams. Over the past year, Hoffman worked as a consultant for NFL teams and gave private lessons to college kids and high school wannabes. But he wanted to get back in the game. He jumped at the chance to work with Falcons special teams coordinator Joe DeCamillis, a friend since the 1990s when both coached in the NFC East. "Steve doesn't want to just be a kicking coach," Mora said. "He wants to be a special teams coordinator someday."

During practice, Hoffman hovers around the kickers with his own video camera. He makes his own tapes so can analyze the smallest details without burdening the team's regular film crew. "I've got stop and go. I've got split screen. I can superimpose one kick on top of another kick," Hoffman said. "I burn the tapes onto DVDs and take them home with me."

Hoffman's solitary style is passed on to his kickers, who must learn to cope with the fact that they're not like everyone else on the team. "Kickers are good athletes in their own way, but they're nothing like these other guys," Hoffman said. "I always tell them, 'You're lucky that when they made the rules for this game, they put in a kicker. Keep your mouth shut. You're only as good as your next kick.'"

Hoffman starts out slowly with his kickers, feeling that too many teams make the mistake of throwing a youngster into tough situations right away. Hey kid, can you make this 47-yarder into the wind? If not, you're outta here. "I just want them to get their foot on the ball," Hoffman said. "Then, once they're feeling comfortable and confident, I want to put them under a little duress. You've got to develop a kicker like you do any other position." As time goes along, he baits them, he challenges them, he puts them in tougher and tougher scenarios. "It's not just the kicks," Hoffman said. "It's the way they carry themselves. A lot of times, they don't even know I'm looking at them." And what is he looking for? "I want to see the look in their eyes during pressure situations," Hoffman said. "That is the telltale sign of how they will hold up."

There's more to kicking than the kicker. Hoffman also spends a lot of time working with the snapper and holder, knowing the chance of success increases when those two jobs are handled flawlessly. "If you really look at field goal kickers, the difference between the good ones and the bad ones is usually only three or four kicks a year," Hoffman said. "I try to find a way to make sure they don't miss those three or four kicks."

The Falcons already have punter Michael Koenen to handle the kickoffs, so all they're looking for is someone to make field goals and extra points. And, if neither Derr nor Yelk works out, they can always sign one of those veterans who surely will be available in the waning days of the preseason. "I was kicking with Eddie Murray not long ago. He's 48 years old, and he made 36 of 38 all the way out to 53 yards," Hoffman said. "There's always a guy out there."

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PostPosted: Sat Jun 03, 2006 10:55 pm 
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some more, from the AJC I think..


The Falcons defense has been retooled. The offense has added highly respected quarterbacks coach Bill Musgrave. In the flurry of offseason moves, little attention has been paid to one of the most important positions - place-kicker. "When you have as much money committed as we have offensively and defensively you're not going to be able to sign everybody that you want," Falcons special teams coach Joe DeCamillis said. "Adam Vinatieri got a $2 million signing bonus. I think (Mike) Vanderjagt got $1.8 or something like that. Yeah, you feel comfortable with those guys, but as I remember Vanderjagt's last kick, he missed."

The master plan
In games decided by three points or less, the Falcons were 1-3 on their way to an 8-8 mark last season. During their march to the NFC championship game in 2004 and a 12-6 record, they were 5-1 in those games. After deciding not to re-sign Todd Peterson, the Falcons are planning to enter the season with an untested kicker. They released kickers Seth Marler and Ryan Rossner on May 19th setting up a training camp battle between Zac Derr and Tony Yelk. "We'll let those two compete, fight it out and if we feel like we need to sign a veteran going into training camp or after training camp we will," DeCamillis said. "But we want a young kicker to be able to make it just like we had with (punter) Michael Koenen last year." Peterson's averaged made field goal last season was 31.6 yards. Also, the Falcons used Koenen on some longer field goal attempts. The hope is that either Derr or Yelk can handle all of the field goal chores with Koenen doing the punting and kickoffs.

The guru
One Falcon move that went nearly unnoticed was the addition of assistant special teams coach Steve Hoffman, a noted punter/kicking guru. After going to Dallas with Jimmy Johnson from the University of Miami, Hoffman developed kickers from 1989 to 2004. He's likely one the reasons the Falcons are comfortable with trying to go with an untested kicker. At Dallas, Hoffman had seven rookie or first-year free-agent kickers, five of which kicked 18 field goals in their first season. "He's a guy that I followed," DeCamillis said. "When I first came in the league I was with the Giants and Coach Hoffman was there with Dallas. Every couple of years they kept bringing in young guys and they always got the same kind of production." Hoffman spent last season working as a consultant. He tutored Koenen and Green Bay punter B.J. Sanders. He punted in the USFL for the Washington Federals and he failed to catch on in the NFL with Washington, Seattle and New Orleans. "It just kind of evolved just from being around it as a punter myself, just from instructing at youth camps and seeing all of the things that the good ones do and all of the things the bad ones do," Hoffman said.

Veteran corner
If Derr or Yelk falter, there are a few veterans - including Peterson - ready to come to the rescue. "If you just bail out, it would be easy to say 'Aw let's go get a guy who's done it a while,' " Hoffman said. "Some of the guys that have done it for a little while, haven't done it really great." Paul Edinger, who's played six seasons with the Chicago and Minnesota, is the top unsigned veteran kicker. "We're getting calls from other guys, too," Hoffman said. "Heck, Morten Andersen still wants a shot." Andersen, the former Falcon kicker, turns 46 in August and last kicked in 2004 for Minnesota. In addition to the veterans, the Falcons will keep an eye on the waiver wires for possible kickers. Dallas figures to cut Shaun Suisham after signing Vanderjagt as a free agent. "By the end of August there is going to be somebody out there that's kicking pretty good," Hoffman said. "Hopefully, it's one of these two kickers for us."

THE CANDIDATES
Patience will be key for the Falcons in selecting a new kicker. "The thing is, if you want a young kicker you have to see it through to the end," Hoffman said. With no rush, both kickers appear to have lively legs. Both were stroking 50-yarders with ease last Tuesday and Wednesday at the team's organized training activities. "Right now these two look like they have very similar range to what Michael had last year," DeCamillis said.

ZAC DERR
• College: Akron
• Height, Weight: 5-7, 155
• Age: 27
• Pro experience: None. Signed by Falcons on April 10. Spent some time in camp with the Dallas Cowboys.
• The skinny: "Zac Derr has some tremendous potential in the way he hits the ball," Hoffman said. "He gets the ball up better than anybody that I've ever had as far as height and trajectory. He gets the ball up quick. He has more power than you would ever expect out of a guy his size. Now he just has to get more consistent."

TONY YELK
• College: Iowa State
• Height, Weight: 6-1, 205
• Age: 24
• Pro experience: None. Signed as rookie free agent on May 1.
• The skinny: Booted a 51-yarder last season for the Cyclones. "Tony has impressed us with just the way that he handles it all," Hoffman said. "He's got that innate calmness. He just hits the ball straight. He doesn't worry about how far it goes. He doesn't worry about how far Zac's ball goes on the kick before him. For his age, he's way ahead of guys that I've ever had."

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PostPosted: Sun Jun 04, 2006 1:10 pm 
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Well it makes me feel somewhat better that if Derr/Yelk don't cut it,the team isn't going to go after another young guy named Rosco Jenkins, whose never kicked in the NFL before to try and fill the slot.

But I'm still weary that one of these 2 players is going to be our opening day kicker. I would say its probably a 60-70% chance either one of these guys is our guy.

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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2006 4:27 am 
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When the upcoming season is all said and done, the lack of a solid kicker will stand out as the #1 flaw in the team, it will bite us, leaving an ugly scar.


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PostPosted: Mon Jun 05, 2006 12:00 pm 
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Hoffman starts out slowly with his kickers, feeling that too many teams make the mistake of throwing a youngster into tough situations right away.

- I thought this line was pretty telling. Makes sense to me, b/c normally they do get thrown right into the fire.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 3:05 am 
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I hate how the media is having a lovefest with this Hoffman guy. His results are not all that great.

Yes, for much of his career he managed to turn s*** into dung or guano, but only a handful of seasons did the Cowboys ever have what would qualify as a good kicker during his 16-year run. You can see some of these results pointed out here:

http://www.falcfans.com/forum/viewtopic.php?t=1709

Based on the figures in that post, if he's worked with 20 different kickers but only 3 of them reached a benchmark where you could say, this guy better than "effective" he was actually "pretty good" then this guys results suck.

I want to see this guy turning guys into kickers that really make it in the NFL. But none have. I want to see this guy have a track record like Mike Martz, where he's taking other team's 3rd string QBs, plugging them into his offensive system and getting multiple Pro Bowls, Super Bowls, League MVPs, etc.

Now obviously, kickers aren't going to be winning those awards, but I want someone that can look back on the guys he worked with 5, 10, and 15 years later, and say hey, I was the guy that gave this guy that's been kicking in the league for 8, 9 years his start. I don't need him to be saying I made Morten Andersen or Adam Vinatieri HOF kickers, but at least give me an Olindo Mare or John Hall! He's got nothing. He was never able to get more than 3 productive years out of any of his guys and none of them lasted more than 6 years in the NFL.

This Hoffman guy is a joke if you ask me. When we first hired him, I was thinking, okay this is a good move because it allows DeCamillis to focus on improving our return game and coverage units. But now I realize that if Hoffman is such a kicking guru, how come he hasn't found hardly any success with improving veterans? Are rookies the only ones that are impressionable enough that can improve from his teaching techniques? And if he's such a good coach why are all these young guys falling apart in 2nd and 3rd years?

This guy has managed to make a career out of slapping a new paint of on a lemon, and duping people into thinking its a beamer, and then it may run for a year, and it might be good enough to get you to and from work, but it's not going to come through when you need it to get to the hospital to see your dying mother or to drive that extra 15 minutes in distance for that new job interview.

And when the results don't come, I'm not going to blame Hoffman. I'm going to blame McKay and Mora, because this truly an issue of poor management, not coaching. Hoffman is going to keep doing what he's going to do and take nobodies and make them into mediocre kickers for the most part. It's the people in charge like Mora & McKay that are the ones that believe he's going to perform miracles.

Fact is, DeCamillis had a pretty good eye for unseen talent. He did scope out Jay Feely and David Akers didn't he? Jake Arians and Matt Allen are 2 other Falcon camp bodies that managed to do alright for 1 year in the NFL.

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 11:27 am 
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other Falcon camp bodies that managed to do alright for 1 year in the NFL.

Well you may have answered your own question with the above. It's very feasible to expect that none of these guys will last past this year. Thats why they said in the aritcle that it wasn't out of the question to still bring in an Anderson or Edinger during camp. Basically it seems like we've decided to go the cheap route this year, which is really a roll of the dice. I hope it doesn't blow up in our face. The part that does worry me is that the cowboys just signed Vanderjagt this offseason, which could indicate how happy they were with the round robin kicker theory.


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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 2:24 pm 
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Well Jerry Jones or whomever seemed to like him because he got decent results at the lowest possible price. Parcells didn't like him, because he thought he coddled kickers too much.

The media is talking up this guy a storm, and his track record sucks. It's why in a bunch of the articles they never list the numbers on the kickers he's worked with over the years because for the most part they all sucked.

And it's not like it's that hard to find a rookie/1st year kicker that is halfway decent, so all this "diamonds in the rough" talk is completely exaggerated. Jay Feely, Lawrence Tynes, Rian Lindell, Rob Bironas, Robbie Gould, Matt Bryant, Jeff Reed, Jay Taylor, and Aaron Elling are all examples of undrafted guys that have come into the league in recent years and performed relatively well as rookies. There are a billion kicking camps around the country year-round that you can go to get decent kickers (Feely is a good example of one). You have other leagues: CFL, NFL EUrope, and AFL that always providing you a steady supply of developmental types.

I care nothing about "developing kickers," which is complete joke coming from this guy because he hasn't developed anybody. Get me a guy that gives me results. I take a Parcells-like approach, if a guy misses 4 straight kicks, cut his butt. And you being the "kicking guru" go out and find someone better. You got a dozen kickers in Europe, 30 more in the Arena leagues, another dozen in Canada, and probably another 1-2 dozen that get cut from NFL training camps every summer that you can find. You're telling me out of a crop of about 60-80 players, you can't find me someone that can hit 3 out of 4 field goals?

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PostPosted: Tue Jun 06, 2006 8:31 pm 
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I'm still upset that we didn't get Nugent last draft. That would have saved soo much aggrevation this offseason.


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PostPosted: Wed Jun 07, 2006 11:53 am 
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The day we draft a kicker on the first day of the draft is when i slit my purdy throat.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 12:48 pm 
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- They're talking about NE here, but it may as well be us.

Craig (Norwich, CT): When all is said and done, who will be the kicker in New England?

Gary Horton: To be honest, one of my biggest surprises this offseason is that very question. I know that the salary cap situation is always a problem and it probably didn't make financial sense to keep Vinatieri. But I don't know if I've ever seen a kicker that can change a game like he did. It seems to me that he should have stayed in New England, whatever it cost. I think he's the difference in Indianapolis in winning 2-3 games. I don't think the Patriots have their regular season kicker on the roster right now. I think that will be a huge story in training camp as they watch the waiver wire and they go through several candidates before they find a guy they're comfortable with. The thing that bothers me about this situation is that New England is no longer a dominant team that blow people out. For a good team that will play in close games, I think the kicking situation will absolutely be a huge problem. As smart as this front office is, this is a situation that I just don't understand.


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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 3:55 pm 
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I looked up the Colts, Falcons, and Pats records over the past 4 years when it came to games decided by 3 points or less:

Colts - 10-4
Falcons - 9-9-1
Patriots - 12-3

Frankly, Vinatieri's impact in Indianapolis probably will only be felt in the playoffs. The Pats were 3-0 in the playoffs when it came down to winning by 3 points or less (including 2 Super Bowl wins in that span).

A player like Vinatieri would have a much greater impact on this team because besides the 2004 in which we were 5-1 in close games, we haven't had a positive record in these close games in any of the other years. This past year, we were 1-4. Which again, doesn't bode well for having a green kicker in the game.

I'm not sure Vinatieri is going to mean the difference between 2-3 games in Indianapolis, probably just 1, but it may come when they need him most.

That 5-yr./$11.5 million contract with a $3.5 million bonus that Indy gave Vinatieri is looking awfully cheap in retrospect considering our current kicking situation.

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 4:04 pm 
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that writer's estimate of 2-3 games for Vinny is very optimistic. Vandy was very accurate there. It was just that his last kick was very important, and very bad. It is not like the Colts have been in a ton of 13-10 games.

I agree with Pudge that Vinny's difference will come down to being clutch which is where the team had likely lost confidence in Vandy.

I think part of the reason the Falcons' record in games under 3 points isn't so great is because Peterson's lack of range forced our hand on numerous occassions. The only time Mora would attempt a kick of 44+ yards was at the end of the half or regulation. We had several games where a 44-54 yard FG could have provided a big lift instead of having to punt. I had a topic on this over at the Roost, and I can't recall the specific games where the Falcons had to punt because of Peterson, but by my calcs we could have won another 2-3 games with a kicker with better range (Seattle and Chicago come to mind).

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PostPosted: Thu Jun 08, 2006 5:31 pm 
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I always wondered last year how many reps Koenen got in practice on FGs. It just seemed to me that the Falcons weren't giving him a lot of time in practice, although I have no evidence to proove that. BUt it seemed pretty apparent early in the year, that any kick beyond 50 yards certainly, and many kicks beyond 45 yards were going to be attempted by Koenen. It would only make sense that the coaching staff let Koenen practice field goals as much as possible during the week prior to games.

If you ask me, the act of punting a football probably deserves the least practice time out of all the things involved in football.

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