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Special Teams Analysis: Saints vs. Vikings

With special teams being an emphasis for the Saints this year, let’s take a look at how they performed in Week 10.

New Orleans Saints v Minnesota Vikings Photo by Adam Bettcher/Getty Images

Week 10 of the NFL season has concluded, and for the New Orleans Saints, it ended with a 27-19 loss against the Minnesota Vikings. The Saints were very inconsistent offensively, but their special teams unit actually had a pretty solid day given the circumstances. Considering both their kicker and punter are rookies in their NFL debut season, this makes special teams even more intriguing. In this article, we will analyze the Week 10 game, taking a look at both Lou Hedley and Blake Grupe and how they did in this performance on punts and field goals respectively. So, without further ado, we go to Blake Grupe.

Blake Grupe - 1/1 on field goals, 0 PAT attempts

Blake Grupe did not get a lot of running time in this game, as he only had one field goal, and did not attempt any PATs as the Saints went for the two-point conversion each time. Regardless, the one attempt of the day for Grupe was a good test, as he lined up from 48 yards out. The whole process leading up to the kick was out-of-whack as well, as the snap from Zach Wood was slow, which caused a slow process for Lou Hedley to get the ball in position with the laces facing away. This led to Grupe ever so slightly delaying his kicking motion, which led to the kick going pretty far left near the end and just squeaking in by the left upright. Regardless, Blake did a good job of adjusting to this snap, and drained a kick that was absolutely not a “gimme”.

Lou Hedley - 6 punts for 279 yards

There was some good and some bad with Lou Hedley this past week, as he had a few very good punts and a few less-than-optimal ones. In the first half, Hedley’s first kick was from the MIN 47, and in all fairness was a very good punt as it bounced vertically at the 1-yard line before going into the endzone for a touchback. Isaac Yiadom got trapped against a blocker on the goal-line which prevented this from being a beautiful play all around. Regardless, a quality punt just with a tough outcome. His second punt of the day was not too bad either, as he started from the NO 34 and punted it all the way down to the MIN 18 before it was fair caught with no chance for return. While this is “only” a 48-yard punt, it got down the field with a slower hang time than we have seen lately from Hedley, which prevented a return. His third punt was nearly identical, lining up from the NO 28, and punting it 48 yards to the MIN 24. Both of these punts to end the first half were good to see, as he nearly hit 50 yards on both and landed them inside the 25 despite being halfway into his own territory.

Lou’s first punt of the second half was not as impressive, as it went only 44 yards from the NO 30 to the MIN 26. Zach Wood was also called for holding on this play after the fair catch, which took another 10 yards back. It was a not-so-great punt comparatively to the others for sure, and it certainly did not help the comeback chances. The fifth punt was also very similar, going 46 yards from the NO 16 to the MIN 38, and then a return for 9 yards to the MIN 47. Not creating enough hang time on an already relatively short punt was not great to see no doubt. The final punt of the day was somewhere in between the good and bad, as it traveled 46 yards from the NO 10 to the MIN 44, with a 3-yard return attached to it. On one hand, he did not break 50 yards on one punt this game factoring in this one, and only had one inside the 20. But on the other hand, punting from your own 10 under pressure also creates the difficulty of getting more hang time and power. Overall, a pretty mid-level performance from Lou that was neither here nor there.

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