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Former Jets’ coach Ben Kotwica highlights improving onside kick rate

Mike Westhoff, Ben Kotwica, New York Jets
Mike Westhoff, Ben Kotwica, New York Jets, Getty Images

Former New York Jets special teams coordinator Ben Kotwica recently highlighted the NFL’s increasing onside kick percentage.

In football, special teams represent an area of the game that everybody knows and acknowledges is critically important, yet it still receives little-to-no attention from fans and the media.

Former New York Jets general manager Mike Tannenbaum and his media outlet, The 33rd Team, are looking to change that.

On Friday morning, a special teams-focused article went up on the site, written by Ben Kotwica, whose name some Jets fans may or may not recognize. Kotwica was on the Jets special teams coaching staff from 2007 to 2014, serving as special teams coordinator for the 2013 season.

The article, titled, “Ben Kotwica’s Special Teams Report: Onside Kicks Are Officially Back,” is the latest of Kotwica’s special teams-centric articles, which are a weekly staple of The 33rd Team. Each week, Kotwica examines the most impactful moments from around the league from the kicking, punting and return game.

This past week saw four onside kicks successfully recovered (New York Giants, Baltimore Ravens, Arizona Cardinals and Chicago Bears), which naturally seizes the focus of Kotwica’s article.

Since the NFL focused on eliminating injuries by way of the kickoff—especially that of head-specific injuries—onside kicks have suffered greatly. Not allowing the players the opportunity to run prior to the kick, along with the balanced-on-each-side rule, tanked the end-of-game drama when an onside kick recovery was essential.

In 2017, the league saw 21 percent of its onside kicks successfully recovered, which is a nice and balanced number. In 2018 and 2019 combined, that number dropped all the way to six percent. The 2021 NFL campaign saw the rate bomb to just 4.5 percent.

However, teams are starting to figure it out a bit, as the 2021 season currently showcases a promising 18.6 percent through Week 14.

The staff of Tannenbaum’s outlet is composed almost entirely of former NFL coaches and executives, giving a unique perspective on the game we all know and love.

It’s refreshing to see special teams getting some media love, particularly from a source who understands it better than most.

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