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2012 Review: Special Teams

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    NEWSLETTERS

    We're taking a look back at the 2012 season by analyzing the work done by all of the Cowboys position groups by themselves. The special teams units are the final group.

    The Players: Dwayne Harris was the punt returner and one of three guys who got a look on kick returns. Lance Dunbar and Felix Jones were the others. Dan Bailey did the kicking and Chris Jones handled the punting until he got hurt. Brian Moorman stepped in from there.

    2012 Performance: After all the time spent talking about whether or not to use Dez Bryant on punt returns, it turned out that the Cowboys didn't really need him at all. Harris broke several big returns and one touchdown, allowing the Cowboys to keep Bryant from injuring himself any more than he managed on offense. 

    That didn't carry over to kickoffs, where the Cowboys got nothing of note from any of the guys who took a spin with the job. Jones had a fumble, so at least the Seahawks got something out of it. 

    Bailey made every kick inside 50 yards and only missed two from beyond that distance. Jones and Moorman were underwhelming, as were the coverage units. There was a blocked punt to go with punt and kickoff returns for touchdowns.

    Room for Improvement: Getting consistently strong kickoff returns would be a big boost to the offense. Dunbar is serviceable, but Jones' almost-certain departure opens up possibilities. Finding a player who could both complement DeMarco Murray in the backfield and return kicks well won't be a snap, but there should be some options in the draft. 

    Call in every punter under the sun and find someone better than Jones and Moorman. 

    Chances of Improvement: Switching coordinators from Joe DeCamillis to Rich Bisaccia should lead to changes. Improvement on coverage units should come with improvement to the team's overall depth, although one can't assume that the Cowboys will actually wind up significantly different in that department. 

    Long-Term Outlook: New coaches make big predictions spotty at best and the makeup of special teams units are contingent on bigger roster issues. Bailey isn't going anywhere, which isn't a bad place to start on either front. 

    Conclusion: Bailey's consistency erases one potential trouble spot while Harris gives the Cowboys a chance to flip the field at the very least. Everything else needs work.