Prior to Brad Seely's arrival as the Texans' Special Team coordinator, the Texans special teams struggled, for lack of a better word. Whenever I was out and about or taking calls on the Texans in the 2018 offseason, fans/followers wanted to know when the Texans special teams were going to improve. They weren't looking for a top five unit, just a capable group of special teams. Well, they ended up getting that top five special teams unit courtesy of Seely and assistant Tracy Smith
The two arrived in January 2018 after working together in Oakland for the three years prior. There was an instant change in the performance for the Texans special teams upon their arrival. In 2019, the Texans were fifth in the league in punt return average, just a scant 0.2 yards per return from being number three in the league. The cover units were brilliant as well such that the Texans were ranked fifth in the league in Football Outsiders Special Teams DVOA. Now, I can't tell you what DVOA means but I know it matches what we saw from Seely/Smith's units in 2019. Those numbers were similar in 2018, as well, as special teams were 5th in the league in the same measurement. Furthermore, the Texans were assessed as the number one kick coverage unit in the league.
I remember going to face the Jets in 2018 and the league's best returner Andre Roberts. Seely's crew shut him down as the Texans held him to under 24 yards per kickoff return. I didn't think they would kick to him but Seely didn't shy away that day or any day, honestly. He coached his guys to go down and dominate coverage every single time. Just in his two years as special teams coordinator, I can think of so many instances where special teams kept the Texans in games or in the lead. Kaimi Fairbairn leading the league in field goals made in 2018. His two game winners in 2018 and then against Buffalo in 2019. The Buffalo game in 2018 with a blocked punt, a recovered fumble that led to the only touchdown of the day. Blocked field goals against Tennessee and Tampa Bay in back-to-back weeks in 2019. The number of games in which the starting field position was a major Texans' advantage due to exemplary special teams play.
Special teams discussions don't regularly move the needle for fans/followers, etc for the most part, but I could've sat and talked to Coach Seely for hours when he came into our radio studio. Last year when the NFL instituted sweeping changes in the kickoff rules, Marc and I peppered him with questions about how teams would adjust, how HE would adjust. I could just see a sly smile on his face "well, John, we'll just have to see how it goes." He already knew, then went out every day to prove it. He did his job better than many. Best of luck in retirement, Coach, we'll miss you for sure.
Check out the best shots of Texans specialists from the 2019 season.