Bruce Read never made it to 2009 as Dallas' special teams coach. He was fired on New Year's Eve 2008 and replaced less than a week later by Joe DeCamillis, who had spent the previous two seasons with Jacksonville.
DeCamillis has 16 years under his belt as an NFL
special teams coach, and represents a wild departure from the tacit style of Read. Change is good. Dallas' special teams got visibly worse in the two years Read was at the helm.
The new look unit should be helped by a healthy Mat McBriar; the former Pro Bowler (2006) was shelved for the year in the deplorable October loss to Arizona.
Another positive is that the Pacman Jones experiment is over. Jones averaged just 4.5 yards a return in 2008, 5 yards less than Patrick Crayton
, who also showed a greater capacity for the breakaway than the departed rain man.
As always, the return game will be addressed in camp. The field seems fairly open at this point, with Crayton, Felix Jones (who had a 98 yard return for a touchdown last year against Philly) and maybe, just maybe, "4th and Long" winner Jesse Holley vying for return chances.
returns a year removed from his first season in the league (and first Pro Bowl appearance). He hit 20 of 22 field goals in 2008, and has shown no signs of slowing since bursting on the scene in 2007, when he beat out Martin Gramatica for the position.
Dallas drafted David Beuhler in the fifth round out of USC, and will likely be used as a kickoff specialist, an area in which Folk has shown a weakness.
Improving on 2008 shouldn't be all that hard to do; Dallas was between average and bad in every facet of special teams, and have not had a good year in that respect, really, since Bill Parcells left for Miami.