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Special Teams Analysis: Saints vs. Falcons

With special teams being an emphasis for the Saints this year, let’s take a look at how they performed in Week 12.

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Week 12 of the NFL season has concluded, and for the New Orleans Saints, it ended with a 24-15 loss against the Atlanta Falcons. The Saints were very poor 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 12 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 - 5/6 on field goals, 0 PAT attempts

Last time out for the Saints the roles were reversed, Blake Grupe only had one field goal attempt with 0 PAT attempts, and Lou Hedley had 6 punts for 279 yards. Now, Grupe had 6 field goal attempts and Lou only had 1 punt. This was largely due to the fact that the Saints offense was moving in terms of yards gained but had a complete inability to get the ball into the endzone. Grupe looked good considering he was dealing with a groin injury, which has now led the Saints to sign kicker Austin Siebert to the practice squad.

The worst part is Grupe was having a pretty effective day as well, as he scored the only points for New Orleans over the course of the game. The only miss Grupe had was from 54 yards out, however, he did leave it short and just wide, which could be indicative of the injury or just a slightly off-canter kick. The snap was clean on this kick, so that was not a clear issue to worry about. His makes were from 25, 52, 41, 45, and 39, which was impressive to see as he could hit from effectively every range aside from his last kick. We will see how this injury impacts him/if at all in the coming few weeks, as that will be the most crucial aspect of his play for now.

Lou Hedley - 1 punt for 46 yards

Lou Hedley had a pretty tame day, as he only had one punt and it was on the first drive of the game. This was after the Saints went 3 and out on a run-run-pass scheme that ended in only 3 yards gained total. The punt in itself was somewhat rushed, as Hedley was under pretty immense pressure off the edges of the line. The hang-time on it was extremely poor due to this, by my count it was roughly 3.47 seconds using a stopwatch timer. The optimal range is 4+ seconds, or even 4.5 seconds, which he did not meet. The punt went from the NO 28 to the ATL 26, however, due to the short hangtime it was returned to the ATL 35 for 9 yards. It is hard to gauge his performance on this single punt, as the distance was there but the hangtime was not. Seeing how much of that was him and how much was the pressure is difficult without another punt to watch in this game.