Joe Marciano (David J. Phillip/AP)
The most often overlooked unit in the game of football is special teams. Each game begins with a special teams play, and although solid special teams may not win games on a week-to-week basis, bad special teams can certainly lose games.
Texans special teams coordinator Joe Marciano has been with the club since 2002, and is a 30+ year football veteran. Marciano, like most special teams coordinators, expresses himself vocally.
"I've had my moments, you know,” Marciano said of his coaching style. “I've had my moments where I go back to the old school.”
Marciano has learned in recent years that yelling is not always the best way to get through to his young men.
“I'm still old school mentality, but there's enough guys out here yelling,” Marciano said. “I yell in a meeting every now and then. It's going to take a lot for me to yell, it's going to test my patience to really curse a guy. I'm not into that. I used to be into that, I used to throw tapes at guys, shoot it at them toward the wall above their heads."
Marciano will have a big say in which players round out the bottom of the Texans 53-man roster.
“Right now the safety position, for me, all six guys are good enough to go play special teams,” Marciano said. “There's no doubt. We've got some good safeties. Some of these safeties may not get to play on defense at all during a game; same thing with the linebackers.”
Although Marciano recognizes the talent that the 2009 Houston Texans possess, he feels that his group is behind schedule.
"I've got a long way to go – a long way to go,” Marciano said of his team’s progress on special teams. “Rookie mistakes, veterans making mistakes, you know.”
“The rookies aren't further along as they should be. They didn't retain from the OTAs. We come out and do the same drills competitively and combatively, the same drills we did in teach mode, and they have no retention. Some of the veterans don't have any retention, sometimes."
The Texans will also have a challenge as they will likely go with a rookie long snapper in former Rice tight end/quarterback James Casey.
"(TE James) Casey was a quarterback, so that helps,” Marciano stated. “He can throw. You show him the motion. I did it. I snapped a perfect spiral back to him. So he did it, and did the perfect spiral. So if he can do that, he can put two hands on the ball and do it.”
Although the coverage units are a concern as the new special teams rules involving just a two-man wedge are now into effect, Joe Marciano has a pair of very talented legs on his unit in kicker Kris Brown and punter Matt Turk.
“The only good thing is Kris (Brown) is hitting the ball really well and (P) Matt's (Turk) hitting the ball really well,” the Texans special teams coordinator stated. “Geez, man, those guys are good.”
So much is made of the Texans offensive and defensive units, but special teams may have a big hand in the team winning more close games, something they haven’t been able to do consistently.