New Cleveland Browns special teams coordinator Amos Jones had his introductory press conference Wednesday afternoon in Berea. You can watch the entire conference here; below, we have provided our own reader’s digest of what was said. But first, let’s highlight the money parody quote that DBN user Al Timax made earlier:
Amos Jones: “First of all, I’d like to thank Chris Tabor for leaving behind that nice stack of photos. I’m sure they will come in handy as the season progresses.”
1. Talking About the Cardinals: There’s probably not much interesting things that Jones can say at this point about the Browns. But, that means that his insight on reflecting on the Cardinals’ special teams from a year ago, as well as other years, can offer some perspective:
“Each place is different. We changed both kickers and punters last year and brought in experience in that respect. That was a growing pangs that we had to go through there. We never were able to get the return game going because one, we were still having to use (Cardinals DB) Patrick (Peterson). Luckily for us, we had Patrick, but the (Cardinals RB T.J.) Logan kid we had drafted last year gets hurt in the Hall of Fame Game, and he had a great kickoff return and a great punt return in that game. We were excited about that. Then through the years there in the return game, when I was south of here, we had (Steelers WR) Antonio (Brown) and (former Steelers and Broncos WR) Emmanuel Sanders and guys like that. In the return game out there, we were in a situation where we were kind of using multiple players. Sometimes you don’t get that guy that has all the reps and all of that stuff. From the standpoint of my previous, I’m proud of those guys. They played their butts off for me, but the rankings are what they are. They are what they were here. We can’t do anything about either one of those so we just have to move forward, coach from there and teach. Teaching, teaching, teaching is a big part of who we are.”
2. Familiarity with Zane Gonzalez: Whereas Todd Haley was mum on his personnel because he’s still evaluating them, Jones was an open book when talking about second-year kicker Zane Gonzalez. Gonzalez played college at Arizona State, so Jones was at his Pro Day. Jones also talked about some of Gonzalez’ struggles last year, and how kicking from the left hash was an issue and that you don’t see a lot rookie kickers because of all the elements involved:
“I will be a little facetious: I did come from Arizona, right? I was at Zane’s Pro Day. I worked out another player there because we were not in the mindset [for a kicker]. We had already signed, pretty much thought about signing (Cardinals K) Phil (Dawson) at that point in time or going after him at least. I knew his career in Arizona. Obviously, the weather is a lot different. You do get the wind. You don’t get the snow, but I’m very familiar with Zane. I thought he was a good player coming out. Excited about working with him here.
From his standpoint, you look at what he did last year, obviously, areas that he can improve on but he showed a little consistency there. He showed a little bit of 0-for-2 versus the Jets, but I think he missed one extra point. That is a big thing for a rookie to come into this league is being able to line up on that hash mark or on the middle of the field and make extra points. He missed that one against Minnesota, but from that standpoint, I see a lot of growth that he can do. Kickoff situations, things where we have to help him. Studying him, left hash was an issue. Missed the ball by a little bit so those are three misses right there. Those are things and just the overall mindset that guys have to go through to be prepared.
That is why you don’t see a lot of rookies play at the position. I was blessed to have one that set a franchise record out there. Hopefully, we can get this guy to go into that way. I know he will work hard because (Head) Coach (Hue Jackson) has already told me about that. I feel good about that part of it. If you have a guy that is going to work hard and is willing to learn, shoot, we can go.”
3. Setting Goals on Special Teams: Jones was surprisingly very clear when asked about his coaching philosophies on special teams. Some of these are obvious, but it’s still good to hear (but also an entirely other thing to get your players to actually do it):
- Secure the football via kickoff or punt return.
- Get a first down on punt return, which is 10 yards.
- Get the ball to the 25-yard line if we are going to bring it out on the kickoff return because those yards matter.
- In terms of kickoff and punt, obviously, punt you want to win the net; kickoff, you want to win inside the 20-yard line.
- You want to make tackles inside the 20 -- and wanting to lead the league in sky punt situations.
- Obviously, never give up a touchdown. We don’t want to give up touchdowns and we don’t want to give up first downs by jumping offside and things like that. We want to block kicks and we want to block punts and score.
4. Talking to Phil Dawson: Last year, Jones’ kicker in Arizona was Browns legend Phil Dawson. Jones was asked if he talked to Dawson after taking the job with Cleveland, and here’s what he said:
“Phil was excited because I’m going to put a picture of him in my office (laughter). I did. I had a conversation with Phil. It was mostly about deer hunting. We did talk, and he was excited for me. Obviously, he has great admiration for this city and for this organization. He is a Brown for life. He has played, obviously, at two other places, but the biggest thing on Phil was just, ‘Hey, go and enjoy it. It is a great fan base, and it is a great organization to be a part of.’ I wished him well and same on his part to me, as again with Andy as well, and Dave.”
5. Trying to Get Peppers on Track: It doesn’t sound like the usage of Jabrill Peppers as a return man will end. Jones says he actually worked with Peppers at his Pro Day last year, and that he thinks Peppers has a chance “to be a really special returner.”
“I had the pleasure, like I did with Zane, to go to his Pro Day. I went up there for that specific purpose. I ran the return part of the Pro Day – unbelievable day. He worked his butt off for me that day. I saw a lot of potential. I coached him from the front so I could see his eyes. I think he can improve on a lot of things. The biggest thing with him, no different than Zane, is taking that first year and the lessons you learned – he had a lot of reps last year like Zane did so there are things there – the film is going to teach him to take those lessons to the next phase in his life, which is his second year. All rookies are going to learn things, just like every day we all learn something. I think he has a chance to be a really special returner. I thought he did when I worked him out that day. His college tape was obviously good. The other thing is he is a downhill runner. If you get the ball in his hands, he can be elusive enough to make people miss. I look forward to working with him because that little bit of relationship I had with him last year at that Pro Day was really a special moment for me because he is a great kid. I look forward to that part of it.”