Cued by a comment on a recent episode of Deep Look, I began to think about the importance of pulls; whether it was worth it to spend real effort cultivating pullers this year. The more I thought, the more I became convinced that it wasn’t just a good idea, but something quite important and that I should be working at it more in my own game.
The Football Outsiders place the importance of special teams in football at about 13% of total performance, or roughly one-quarter that of O and one-third of D, not an insignificant percentage. Moreover, they’ve always emphasized the importance of kickoffs, particularly before the recent kicking rule changes, as an underrated aspect of evaluating a kicker and special teams unit’s performance. Essentially, a kicker who goes 20/25 on field goals but consistently pins the other team deep could be significantly more valuable than one who goes 24/25 but is lousy at kickoffs. The connection to pulling is obvious.
But is it worth working on something that, while important, is far less important than O or D, particularly on a developmental squad which has such stark deficiencies everywhere? The answer is yes, and it’s precisely because of those deficiencies. B-Team offenses are really bad. An extra 10, 15 yards or trapping the disc on the sideline might increase the chances of a turnover by 50%, if not more. Moreover, pulling is an inefficiency. There simply aren’t that many good pullers. Part, the main part, of my job is to make my players better and more valuable to higher-level teams, and players who are good at things that no one else is good at are valuable. Finally, pulling isn’t particularly conceptual or difficult to practice. It’s one of the easiest things to practice alone, and I imagine getting a few players to hang back and work on pulls after practice won’t be too tough.
Thus, Team Goal: develop at least 2-3 designated pullers by the time Regionals roles around. Individual Goal: Consistent (8/10? is that realistic? too conservative) inbounds/in-the-endzone pulls by Summer League.