Jacoby Jones was electric on special teams in 2009, leading the Texans with 10.9 yards per punt return.
The Texans special teamers entered 2009 with a wealth of experience coming back. Kicker Kris Brown and punter Matt Turk both had more than a decade's worth of experience under their belts, return men Jacoby Jones and André Davis were consistently productive over their careers in being explosive as returners, and special teams captain Kevin Bentley spearheaded a fine performance by the coverage teams on punts and kicks.
SEASON IN REVIEW: Special Teams
Position coach: Joe Marciano (24th NFL season, 8th with Texans)
Week 1 starters: Brown (kicker), Turk (punter), Joel Dreessen (long snapper), Davis (kickoff returns), Jones (punt returns)
Week 17 starters: Brown (kicker), Turk (punter), Bryan Pittman (long snapper), Davis (kickoff returns), Jones (punt returns)
Key injuries: Davis (concussion, Week 1-3), Dreessen (shoulder, Week 15-17)
By the numbers (top statistical performers): Brown (FG: 21-32, XP: 33-34, PTS: 106), Turk (42.8 yds/punt, long of 62), Jones (10.9 yds/punt return), Davis (783 kickoff return yards)
Season overview: Marciano's punt coverage unit excelled, allowing just 24 of Turk's 67 punts to be returned, and giving up an average of merely 4.3 yards on those returns. Compare that to Jones returning 39 of the 55 punts boomed his way, and him picking up 10.9 yards per return, and the Texans won that field position swing by nearly seven yards.
"Our coverage team has been excellent," Turk said. "They've been as good as anyone in the league. Our guys are getting downfield and protecting. They're covering well."
On the flip side, Jones' longest punt return of the year was a 62-yarder, and his heroics in that area earned him a Pro Bowl alternate nod as a special teamer.
Brown struggled to make field goals in 2009, and wound up connecting on 65.6 percent of his attempts. He was frustrated with his performance, and said after the season that he would make a change in mechanics. Head coach Gary Kubiak was frustrated as well, and said so after the 2009 campaign wrapped up.
"Obviously, we didn't kick well enough to win and play at the level we need to play at to be a champion," Kubiak said. "Kris knows that. I'm not saying anything that I wouldn't say to him. We've got to get better."
2010 Outlook: Both Pittman and Turk will be unrestricted free agents this offseason. As for change at the kicker position, Kubiak expects an improvement there, but hopes the improvement comes from Brown himself.
"That's a phase that has to get better," Kubiak said. "How do we go about getting better? That doesn't mean it doesn't end up being Kris getting better. We've got to look at every phase and what we're doing and see where we have to improve to go win a few more football games."